Christianity is growing in parts of Africa and Asia. That’s the good news for Christians. The bad news is that Christianity is in steady decline in North America and Europe. Here are recent statistics from the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Church in the United States and the flagship of Christian evangelicalism:
For the year 2013:
—one-quarter of Southern Baptist churches reported “0 baptisms”
—60 percent said they had baptized no youth (ages 12-17)
—80 percent reported one or fewer young adult baptisms (ages 18-29)
Gary: 80% of Southern Baptist churches baptized one or zero young adults under the age of 30 during an entire 12 month period! There are 46,000 churches in the SBC. That means that almost 37,000 Southern Baptist Churches had one or zero baptisms of a person under the age of 30 in an entire year!
What do SBC leaders blame for the decline? (I will intersperse comments in red.)
Excerpts from ReligionNews.com: The Rev. Fred Luter, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, thinks old-time methods to spread the gospel have met a culture that’s younger, more diverse and doesn’t necessarily see the pew — or even sin — as a priority.
“Our society is just not what it used to be,” said Luter, who admitted he’s discouraged by the reports. “When I grew up there was a challenge by parents in the home that our sons and daughters would be in church. It was a given. … That day and time is gone.” Blame: bad parenting.
Though some have said the 15.7 million-member denomination needs to be more racially and ethnically inclusive, Luter, its first African-American president, thinks the main reason for decline is that all congregations need to take a role in evangelism.
“We have just not been very active in doing what we can to reach the lost and the unchurched in our nation,” said the 57-year-old New Orleans pastor. Blame: Christians need to get out and beat the bushes more.
–The Rev. Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Ky., is not convinced that a special method or a new way of training is the answer.
“It’s not something that any president or any individual can reverse,” he said of the trends that show seven straight years of declining membership. “It’s something that God must bring about.” Blame: Its not our fault, its God’s.
He added that “it takes a lot more time, a lot more conversations than it did 50 years ago” to succeed in evangelism when some people don’t consider themselves sinners. I think we’ve got to stay the course, continue preaching the gospel, even when the ears of our community is closed,” said Moore. Blame: The old sales pitch isn’t working any more. The sales pitch needs to be more intense and repititious.
–“When about 1,000 churches close their doors every year, I believe that the need of the hour is an evangelistic tool that is simple enough to train all church members, effective enough to ignite believers’ passion for evangelism, and engaging enough to captivate the hearts of the present generation,” said Kim, 64, pastor of a predominantly Korean-American megachurch in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md. Blame: We need a new sales pitch. The Holy Ghost needs some help.
–The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a former SBC Executive Committee chairman who is considered to be a front-runner for the presidency, said there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America. He said Baptists have determined that the Great Commission — a phrase about the biblical command to convert believers across the world — is the path they are committed to follow. Blame: We aren’t instilling enough fear. We need to threaten people with hellfire and damnation again to get people back to church. That’s what worked in the Great Awakenings of the past.
“Our problem is the pace,” said Floyd, 58, pastor of a multisite megachurch in northwest Arkansas. “We need to return to a commitment of personal evangelism.” Blame: If Christians were more committed in doing their job (evangelism), membership and baptisms would skyrocket.
—David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, said Southern Baptists are facing challenges, both theological — some people don’t see themselves in need of a conversion — and sociological — waning agreement with traditional conservative worldviews.
“It’s a tough world out there at this particular time and there’s not a lot of easy answers,” said Roozen, who said the Southern Baptists are joining mainline Protestants in the hand-wringing about declines. “There’s little fixes but they probably don’t address the root challenges.”
Gary: If you are a long time follower of this blog, you know that I believe that the Internet is the doom of Conservative/orthodox Christianity. I am living proof. If I had not had a computer, if I had not “surfed” the internet one boring day in February of last year, I would still be a devout, every-Sunday-go-to-church, conservative Christian. But on that fateful day, I decided to do a google search on “ex-fundamentalist Christians turned atheists” and came upon the blog of Bruce Gerencser, a former fundamentalist Baptist pastor.
Four months later I was an agnostic.
Without the internet, how would I have come upon the mountains and mountains of evidence that prove the supernatural and historical claims of Christianity false? Would I have put out the effort to go to the public library to look up these issues? Would I have gone to a book store to read books on this issue? I don’t think so. I wasn’t looking to deconvert! I loved my Faith! I was perfectly content with my conservative Christian belief system. I had no doubts about the complete truthfulness of my Faith.
But I lost my faith because of a one second click on my computer mouse. And that, my friends, is why conservative Christianity is doomed.
Now I have scientific evidence that backs up my claim that the internet is a major factor in the rapid decline of Christianity in America. Check out this excerpt from a scientific study. You can read the entire article: here.
This is the headline of the article: Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That’s the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use.
Back in 1990, about 8 percent of the U.S. population had no religious preference. By 2010, this percentage had more than doubled to 18 percent. That’s a difference of about 25 million people, all of whom have somehow lost their religion.
That raises an obvious question: how come? Why are Americans losing their faith?
Today, we get a possible answer thanks to the work of Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, who has analyzed the data in detail. He says that the demise is the result of several factors but the most controversial of these is the rise of the Internet. He concludes that the increase in Internet use in the last two decades has caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.