I read an article on ABC news yesterday about America becoming less religious and Christian. When I first saw the article title I was a little disheartened. It is hard to see evidence that the church and Christian religion are losing ground in America.
The article states that in the last 18 years, the percentage of Americans who claim to be Christian went from 86 percent to 76 percent. Much of the ground lost was in mainstream Protestant denominations like Methodists and Baptists. Along with the loss, the percentage of people claiming to have no religion have doubled.
On the one hand, I am sad to hear these statistics. In spite of some of my reservations, I am happy to live in a country where Christians have the freedom to worship and form community. On the other hand, I am encouraged to think how God will work in the midst of religion’s slow decline.
I believe one of the biggest hindrances of the gospel in America is the myth that most Americans are already Christians. Maybe the recent decline in religiousness is really just a step towards honesty about the true spiritual state in America. The article talks about people claiming a belief in God or a relationship with Jesus, but not associating with religion.
Whenever I hear things like this, I have to remember that God’s plan and ambition doesn’t worry about statistics, and that He is still fervently pursuing His lost sheep wandering through lonely fields. America is certainly growing less religious, but God is not growing less adamant about His purposes.
So don’t fear the stats and decline. Success is not measured by the amount of people claiming to belong to a church or a religious sect. Our success already happened on the cross, and we just have to continue to further the kingdom of grace.