The Decline of Christianity In America

The Decline of Christianity In America

Posted on 09. Apr, 2009 by in Tradition

Just Might Be The Best Thing That Could Happen To The Church!

The cover story for the current issue of Newsweek (April 9, 2009) magazine is entitled “The Decline of Christian America,” and presents a bleak picture of the church’s future of impacting society.

Based on the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, the article quotes the following statistics:

  • The “number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent.”
  • The number of individuals claiming to be agnostic or atheist “has increased about fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million.”
  • The number of individuals claiming to be Christians has fallen by 10 percent since 1990.

Agreeably, these stats can give us a reason to be concerned for the future of traditional Christianity here in the US.

But is this truly a bad thing? In fact, could this be the best thing that could happen for the church?

One of the key concepts of the free enterprise system is that if a business, product or service does not sufficiently meet the needs of the consumer it will suffer losses. This being the case, the savvy businessperson is always looking for a way to be relevant to their market. It is a matter of survival. Unfortunately, much of Christianity does not understand this and has become irrelevant and obsolete to many, or if you use the research, now the majority.

The general picture of modern North American Christianity today is a segregated, organizational hierarchy, much of which is built on man’s traditions; the results are a passive laity governed by a select clergy. Subsequently, this church has a lost or diminished capacity to manifest the power of the kingdom. Jesus stated to the Pharisees, that they  “made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matt 15:6). [for more insights on traditions click here] The teaching of man has resulted in the typical church we see today.

In contrast, the original church was very different and powerful. Yes it had a basic structure of leadership, but it was not about the structure: It was the King and His kingdom. It was this focus that resulted in a revealing of the nature and characteristics of Jesus in the lives of those who were born again. The structure that existed was about empowering the believers, allowing them to make a difference in the communities they lived in.

The culture of this church was Kingdom focused: it was an authentic, transparent, transformational community. It was a place where individuals shared, took responsibility and were accountable to each other. It was in this environment that the members (not professional clergy) would minister the grace of God, restoring the broken and empty lives of the hurting around them. This was accomplished by the manifestation of the supernatural power of the indwelling Spirit.

In short, this church was demonstrating to the world something different than religion: and it turned their world upside down.

So….. IMHO, the decline of this traditional church is setting the stage for the genuine, authentic church to rise to the occasion! It is up to you and I to choose if we will be a part of it!

PS – I know at times I may come across hard on church. Let me clarify: I do not like religion or man’s tradition. Jesus chastised the pharisee’s regarding their man made traditions that were making the commandments of God powerless.

Also, my views are based on a biblical study of the word tradition and it’s origin. The greek word for tradition is used 13x in the NT, 11 of which are in a negative connotation. It’s basic meaning is “a handing over or surrender.” The greek word it is derived from means “to take into captivity. ” It is used 121x in the NT, 101 of which are used in a negative connotation. So with this view in mind, I have a problem with religion and man’s tradition.

I do believe that there is to be a powerful assembly of people who are manifesting the nature and image of Jesus Christ. It is this group of people who He has called out and empowered that are the true church.

Just thought I should let you know.


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10 Responses to “The Decline of Christianity In America”

  1. Tracie Hunt

    09. Apr, 2009

    Here, Here. Could not have said it better!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Cindy Leavitt

    10. Apr, 2009

    WOW! Martin! I am impressed. I don’t remember writing this but you wrote my heart in these few paragraphs! Very well written Brother. You bless me.

    Reply to this comment
  3. will-of-IAM

    10. Apr, 2009

    as it is written: do NOT root up the tares from the wheat; let them GROW together until the End of the Age and then the Angels will do the harvesting (para-phrased)… God is shaking ALL that can be shaken and JUDGMENT comes to the house of God FIRST, then the World, per the Word… this is GOOD; eliminates church members from DISCIPLES, per Matthew 28! – whooo hoooo Father and our Lord JESUS, the Anointed One… only by the Spirit (Zach 4:6)

    Reply to this comment
  4. Brandon Steinke

    10. Apr, 2009

    Martin, I would agree with your synopsis. This decline in ‘Christianity’ is not really a decline in Christianity at all, for most of these people were not really Christian to begin with. What this really marks is a decline in the embracement of common religiosity. Which, as you’ve stated, may be a step in the right direction. So many people adamantly defend their ‘religion’ and ‘religious association’ out of stubborness and fear, living in various stages of denial…denial of the emptiness, falsity, and confusion of the traditions to which they adhere. Now, the question is: Have these individuals traded their denial/defense of an empty and false religion for a denial in a belief that there is a God. While I believe some of these individuals may verbally profess an open questioning of the existance of a Creator/God, I also believe, for the majority, this decline in religious affiliation is due in greater part to a general disenchantment with baseless doctrines and empty practices that have grossly distorted and eaten away at the foundation of their view and belief in a loving God. To quote Leonard Ravenhill from the Revival Hymn, “That world outside there is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity, it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.” And therein lies our conviction. We’ve pointed at them enough, now it’s time to point at us.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Schmaltz

      10. Apr, 2009

      Thanks for the insightful words. By my experience and reading, I believe most of these individuals have not “left God,” but man’s religion. I agree, we must now look at ourselves: are we presenting to them an authentic, transparent and transformational relationship with Jesus?

      This demise of religion, will be a wonderful opportunity for the true church to step up. I am steadily coming into contact with those believers that are doing just this.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Donnie Gillum

    10. Apr, 2009

    Quote: The general picture of modern North American Christianity today is a segregated, organizational hierarchy, much of which is built on man’s traditions; the results are a passive laity governed by a select clergy.

    This is true! Too true!

    Regarding your P.S.: While it is a good statement, we all speak with more passion about something we believe in than the average bear subject. Ya hazunt dun enie hurtin, (septin mabee ta dem onry tradishuns) Brother.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Alan Hosch

    10. Apr, 2009

    I liked the post script. Only I have a serious problem with the larger movement of anti-Christianity hacks who are firing loosely founded statements in all directions without qualification. There are serious problems with organized religion, one of them is a power/political/money focus evident in all organizations. However, I believe the Apostles, if alive today, would rail just as distinctly against “emergent” theology as they would orthodoxy. There is a middle ground between the two, but I think they’d preach against the moderate view, as well. The answer, I think, is based in the Word and the Spirit. Something that is woefully missing from both emergent movements and traditional religions. The Apostles meditated on, preached without apology, and duplicated an atmosphere of constant study of the whole Word of God. In addition, they would have rather sailed into a storm (literally) than to go or do (or not go or not do) ANYTHING that the Holy Spirit didn’t specifically tell them. The Spirit and the Word reigned supreme. Organized Apostolics, as a movement have lost a certain sensitivity to the ebb and flow of the Holy Ghost. We’d rather take up pledges than teach true giving and let a series of prayer meetings and elders with a burden change the giving paradigm of the congregation. And I don’t see or feel any Spirit or hear anything but relationship teaching in the emergent or charasmatic churches that I’ve attended. The Apostles founded both a social gospel – a counterculture – and a well-grounded Word-based theology. They didn’t apologize to their generation for being followers of Jesus. They weren’t afraid of Jewish orthodoxy, and regularly adjusted Church teachings to rid themselves of it. They never tried to hide doctrine or innovate new methods of spinning the Gospel to a hedonistic Greek culture. They realized that trusting Jesus and following His Gospel meant reaching some, and being rejected by many. Persecution was considered a normal result of a non-compromising way of life. And they did not love their lives “unto death”. I don’t mind the decline of traditional Christianity, which has utterly failed to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world. I just don’t want anything to do with any church or organization that would have the temerity to water down God’s One Precious Truth, the all-encompassing power of His Name, Jesus.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Joy(KingdomWarrior)

    10. Apr, 2009

    I couldn’t agree more. I have been “preaching” this for years now. True Christianity is my hearts cry.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Edine Harkins

    10. Apr, 2009

    I agree Brother Schmaltz…it is heartbreaking to see self conƒessing christians so self seeking and not allowing God to be FIRST. As His Word says,” it is better to please God than to please man.” I believe this is a wake up call ƒor the true church to be a true witness and let His light shine and ƒor HIs power to be made manifest før the unbelievers to see that God is real, the same yesterday, today and ƒorever…there is ALL POWER IN JESUS’ NAME…It is all in Him…

    Reply to this comment
  9. Jennifer Johnson

    10. Apr, 2009

    Awesome post and great comments as well. I have said often, the church that I read about in the New Testament is so different from what I grew up with in some regards. In other regards, it closely parallels it. In Lake Saint Louis, we are doing our best to preach/teach the truth of God’s Word with true love..(John 13:35) while creating a strong, church body with healthy roots. (Psalm 92:13) We are putting aside traditions (that others in our organization cling to so strongly) and focusinng on what scripture says. T.F. Tenney’s words still ring true to me..”Keep the main thing the main thing.” I am grateful that we have men in your generation who are not afraid to change methods to better present THE MESSAGE. Huge props to you!

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