Summary: Christinaity is no longer the valued, prestigious, privileged, powerful, influential institution it used to be in our country. Could it be the church in the U.S. is no different than Judaism and the religious people of Jesus' day? Do we want the benefits
Message: Exile and Return (Jesus Wants to Save America; Jesus Wants to Save the Church; or Jesus Wants to Save “Christians”)
Date: August 28, 2011
Pastor: David McBeath
As Jason’s song suggests—God’s Love is all we’ll ever need. And Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrated his love toward us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God came to us and saved us!
With my message this morning, we go from Good News Jason sang about to Bad News! This bad news comes in the form of statistics about the church in the United States. These statistics are depressing and sometimes they are hard for Christians to hear.
According to The America’s Research Group survey, 95% of 20-29 year old evangelicals attended church regularly during elementary and middle school. That sounds pretty good. But really it’s not. Here’s why: Only 55% of them attended church when they got into High School. Worse still, only 11% still attend church today! Young Americans are deserting the church in droves. Sobering isn’t it!
This survey goes on to say that the number of Americans who call themselves Christians has dropped 11% since 1990. (The survey is a few year’s old—so the percentage is likely greater than this.)
Lifeway research (an entity of the Southern Baptist Church) predicts that membership in Southern Baptist Churches will drop 50% by the year 2050 if current trends continue. Dave Olson, the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church has done research that suggests that only 18.7% of Americans regularly attend church today! Only 18%! And he suggests this number will drop to 9% by 2050.
According to the Barna Group, 15% of Americans now say they have “no religion.” Only 8% said this in 1990. But the news gets worse. 46% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have no religion. None! With all the different religions in the US, imagine how low the Christianity number must be!
With these statists we see a clear trend: The percentage of Christians in the US has been declining more and more with each successive generation.
Here’s the bad news. With these statistics, we can honestly say that we DO NOT live in a Christian nation. In fact, most-people say we live in the Post-Christian West. Western Europe and The United States were once Great Bastions of Christianity. 50 years ago Christianity in Europe became a mere shadow of its former existence. And, Christianity in the United States has and is quickly moving the same direction.
The result is this: Christianity is no longer the valued, prestigious, privileged, powerful, influential institution it used to be in our country! Our high school students don’t understand what I just said. They have not experienced a United States culture that has valued Christianity, or appreciated its influence. They have not experienced Christianity as a powerful, influential, prestigious, and valued institution in the US. Same goes for our 20 year olds.
Our 60 and 70 year olds have experienced this. They lived in a Christian Nation. Those were the good old days in the church. People went to church because you should. You joined a church because you wouldn’t be respected in society if you didn’t. But beginning in the late 60’s and picking up speed in the 70’s and 80’s the church lost its privileged, prestigious, powerful position in America. And most of us here this morning have experienced this loss.
Is it any wonder many Christians feel persecuted? Is it any wonder we feel isolated? Is it any wonder we feel pushed to the side? Is it any wonder our opinions don’t seem to matter? Is it any wonder we don’t enjoy the same privileges we had? Is it any wonder we don’t have the same political clout we once had? Is it any wonder morality is changing around us? Is it any wonder Christianity isn’t respected? Is it any wonder Christians now feel like outsiders?
Have you ever felt this way as a Christian? Do you feel “exiled” from your country or what you thought your country should be about and used to be about—because you are different than the majority of people around you? Have you ever felt like our country is being occupied by people who don’t value the Christian principles our nation was supposedly founded on?
What can you do about it? What can we do about it? The original title for my message this morning was Exile and Return. Indeed, American Christians are exiled in their own country! ...How do we return Christianity to its place of prominence in America? How do we make this a Christian land once again? Jesus has the answer. Jesus wants to save America! That’s my new title! Jesus’ answer is found in his parable of The Prodigal Son from Luke 15. Let me explain.