I’ve been seeing a number of posts recently in various forums lamenting the future of Christianity in the USA. The recent ruling on same sex marriage being the most recent catalyst for this angst. This has been a topic on my mind the last few years and I’ve come to a few understandings:
- A big part on the perceived drop in US Christianity has much to do with a peeling back of the veneer of Christianity as a universal tenant of US society.
- Christianity in the USA has to get over not being the default in US culture, it wasn’t always this way in US history, we just got used to it.
- Years ago people said they were Christian often to differentiate that they were not Jewish.
- Many baby boomers experienced the biggest peak of church attendance in US history. I’d surmise much of this was due to a drive to get back to “basic family values” after the difficulty of the Great Depression, fighting “Godless Communism”, and especially the horrors WWII.
- A number of people went to Church because it was socially important in the community, not for religion itself.
- Church attendance is now about what is was in many parts of the 1800s.
- People (especially rural) in the 1800s held non-Christian superstitions and alternative beliefs in proportion to the people today who are “non-religious”, “spiritual”, and so on.
- The Founding Fathers were not the most religious people.
And there are a few thing needed to move forward:
- Christianity needs to find ways to make itself reverent in this current culture, not the one you remember or wish for.
- Pick you battles. Things like abortion involve human life and merit higher priory (abortion is down due to evolving views on the topic). LBGT issues are basically a losing battle socially for churches opposed to them. If you are against such issues, compassion will get you further than anything.
- Be known for the good the church does, not a few topics it opposes or frets about.
- Invigorate what you do have. People want to join organization that are going somewhere and have a sense of direction.
- Move on from things that are no longer relevant.
- You church cannot be a closed social club for it to last.
- Church is not about a beautiful building, it is about doing God’s work out in the world.