In a 2015 USA Today article titled, Survey Fail – Christianity Isn’t Dying, Ed Stetzer makes a number of “amen” worthy statements. You can read the article here but allow me to share a few highlights.
Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church , Missions, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, argues, Christianity isn’t collapsing; it’s being clarified. Churches aren’t emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.
He provides research which shows that Evangelical Christianity in America is growing and evangelicals are attending church more than ever. These results are contrary to “the sky is falling” reports often trumpeted by newscasters and preachers alike. Feel free to read the article and dig through the numbers. You can also check out a book by Glenn Stanton titled, The Myth of the Dying Church, that shares much more data.
Here’s the takeaway that Stetzer provides:
If evangelical Christianity is growing, or at the very least remaining steady, why is Christianity as a whole shrinking and why are those who claim no religious affiliation increasing at such a rapid rate? In short, nominals — people whose religious affiliation is in name only — are becoming nones — people who check “none of the above” box on a survey.
Those who value their faith enough to wake up on Sunday morning and head to their local church are mostly still going. What I have described as “convictional Christianity” will continue. Those who say their faith is very important to their lives are not suddenly jettisoning those beliefs to become atheists.
Nominal Christians are becoming the nones and convictional Christians remain committed. It is fair to say we are now experiencing a collapse, but it’s not of Christianity. Instead, the free fall we find is within nominalism.
I think Jesus said it best …
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23