Christianity On The Decline in America

This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, that day in history when God poured out his Holy Sprit and Jesus Christ was preached as the crucified but resurrected and exalted Lord and Messiah.  According to Acts 2:41, three thousand people joined the small group of disciples.

The Jesus movement was off and running.  Fueled by the Holy Spirit, these disciples lived out the life of Jesus Christ whom they fearlessly proclaimed as their King and Savior.  This was a singular focus, their mission, which earned these disciples the name “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

Today…this is no longer so.  Here in America it’s common to hear “God, country, and family” touted by many Christians.  But where did we get this idea from?  Certainly not the Bible!  But is it such a bad thing?  Well, judge for yourselves.

Is it really by coincidence that Christianity is on the decline in America?  The gospel of Jesus Christ now shares the spotlight with civil religion (with the later increasingly getting the majority of airtime).  Where in Acts, followers of Jesus were called Christians because they were living as disciples, today people can be Christians without necessarily being disciples.

Maybe it’s time to stop trying to juggle “God, Country, and Family” and live exclusively for the mission of God!

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6 responses to “Christianity On The Decline in America

  1. Yes. Behold how blessed it is for brethren to dwell together in unity….for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. The power of the holy people, mentioned in Daniel was broken when the visible unity of those same people were broken, a process that began with the overweaning papacy and accelerated with the atomization that came through Martin Luther, despite the well-intentioned emphasis on Scripture. Unbelief in the visible Church and no relationship to it is a tragic failure to believe in the bodily resurrection, for the Church as the Body of Christ, is indomitable for It is the Body of Christ, resurrected, incapable of corruption. The Christians that remain will join the Lord in a sort of corporate crucifixion, and their blood crying out will be the harbinger of the return of Christ.

  2. I won’t pretend as if the Roman Papacy or any of the Reformers as well as the Restoration pioneers of my own heritage are innocent of stirring division in Christianity. But neither will I act as though the Eastern Church is innocent. The split between the East and West, Constantinople and Rome, was as much about political power (who had the authority over the church) as it was theological. Both sides bear the blame for division.

  3. Rex, it seems that we can always point a finger for why the church is in decline. Because of what I see and my experience I usually point to worship practices and low expectations for the decline. They are probably connected. I asked my fellowship on Sunday what they thought we should look like if Paul challenges the people to be filled with the Spirit instead of drunk on wine.

    • While I don’t think we are called to be bashers of America, being filled with the Spirit would seem to lead us to stop speaking so much national praise and instead speak more about what God has done in Christ. At least that was the results of being filled with the Spirit in the first-century.

  4. My church this Sunday sang “God bless America” to begin worship, and mentioned nothing about the significance of Pentecost (date, not Jewish festival) to the “beginning” of the church or the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit, or the handing down of Acts 2:38. (I’m not upset about that as it’s not an issue we’ve discussed here.)

    But why should I ask God to bless this country? Is it more important than any other country? Shouldn’t I ask God to bless the world and for the Gospel to spread to every corner? What gives this country priority? Do you think the first church sang “God bless the Empire?” Should they have?
    After all, it had a higher level of culture and freedom, and technology and blessings compared to the barbarians outside the Empire.

    Why do I hear so many parents proud of the children serving their country, yet cringe at the thought that they might serve as missionaries in a “dangerous” place? (Maybe that’s not your experience, but I’ve heard it repeatedly.) Shouldn’t the church have twice as many people willing to risk all for the kingdom, than for the country? I tend to agree that love for country takes an unconscious priority over kingdom more often than we care to admit.

    I wish I had the confidence many express that all of our servicemen and women are “fighting for freedom”. I respect that’s the intent of many of them. I just suspect that often they’re fighting for baser causes known only to a hierarchy that doesn’t allow the rank and file to select which battles to engage.

    Let’s make sure we thank God for the freedom we have, recognise it as a blessing, but also confess that we would meet to worship him with or without that freedom!

    • Personally, I would be really upset to hear “God bless America” sang in a Christian worship service, given its attachment to nationalistic sentiments (that includes singing other patriotic hymns in worship too). I would not make as big of a deal about this if the gospel was just overflowing out of the lives of American Christian but when national sentiments and concerns seem to be more important than the gospel and Christianity appears to be in decline…well, I think I have a reason for making a big deal.

      Also, I share your concern about Christians who are proud of their children serving in the military but discourage their children from pursuing foreign mission work. I have heard the same sentiments expressed by Christian parents too and every time I hear such expressions, “gospel-fail” comes to mind.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

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