Alarms Keep Flashing and Sounding

warningA few weeks ago, a light came on the dashboard of my car.  It was a warning light that my coolant levels were low.  I put some coolant in, and it went off. But within a week or so, it came on again.  That process happened a few times, and it got harder and harder to keep it under control.  When I went to my mechanic for an oil change, he looked at it and found a crack in  my coolant reservoir that was about to burst through completely. If that had happened, my car would have stopped immediately and permanent damage could have been done to the engine.

In our evangelical and Baptist worlds, the alarms keep flashing and sounding.  The last week has been sobering as the reports and commentary kept coming, matching a growing chorus since last fall.  Let me urge you to prayerfully read (and listen) to the following.  Let the weight of it sink in… and hear Chuck Kelley’s prophetic call at the end.

 

+ Christians are declining as a percentage of American population and the fastest growing spiritual identification are those who claim “no faith”.  Here is another take on the same info and one more here.  The author of this study says, “religion has become more like a fashion statement, not a deep personal commitment for many” and a commentator notes “When it comes to religion, the USA is now land of the freelancers.

            This is the world in which we are called to spread the gospel.

 

+ The evangelical movement is headed for a massive collapse and restructuring that will leave it looking nothing like it does today.  Here is one observers statistical analysis of the conclusions.

 

+ What is happening with evangelicals in the US is simply following what has been happening in Canada, where evangelicals may be as few as 8% of the population.

 

+ Baptists are a “graying” denomination.

 

+ Southern Baptists are declining and scrambling—from both the Washington Post and Nashville Tennessean.

This is the current reality of the effectiveness of our ministry to spread the gospel in our world.

 

+ Are Southern Baptists the new Methodists? – a passionate and prophetic message from Dr. Chuck Kelley, president of my alma mater, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  It’s from the perspective of a life-long Southern Baptist and worth listening to the whole thing.  Near the end, Kelley says…

 

“I am a man of immense hope over the future for Southern Baptists…but I am very deeply moved over how serious are the realities that we are facing, if we are not willing to name them, face them and respond to them…”

He’s right.

 

            Doing church the same way is no longer an option for our church — or anybody else’s.  Our gospel calling is too big (heaven-sized!), too crucial (hell is real), too precious (Jesus is worth it all) for anything less.

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2 responses

  1. Hi ponderanew,

    Thanks for referencing my recent posts. I did want to clarify one fact though, Evangelicals in Canada are somewhere between 8% and 19% depending upon how you define the term. Still, it it is only 1/3 to 1/2 of Americans which is a significant difference.

    Mike Bell

  2. Thanks, Mike. I’ve adjusted the post. My 4% came from my memory of what a church planter friend in BC said about evangelical presence in CA. But as you said, the numbers as compared to population are still astonishingly low.

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