The Barna Research Company just released the results of an ongoing study regarding American attendance to the Christian church. Please remember that their definition of the "Christian church" includes many non Christians by Bible standards. Barna's Christian church includes Catholics, Protestants and other religions.
Barna's research revealed that 156 million U.S. residents are not engaged with a Christian church. To put that number into context, that is roughly one half of the U.S. population. In the last decade the number of adults who are unchurched has increased by more than 30% or 38 million people, more than live in Canada or Australia.
At interested statistic is that very few Americans are what we would call purely unchurched. Most of them are dechurched. That means they once attended church and quit! George Kinnaman who served as general editor with George Barna, said in his recent book, Churchless, "…more Americans than ever are not attending church. Most of them did at some point and, for one reason or another, decided not to continue."
This is the most interesting result of the research. It is not so much that people are not starting to church, but that they are quitting! Think about this. With all of our "new and improved" bibles, people are quitting. The problem was supposed to be an "antiquated Bible." It was the archaic language that was the problem. Let's modernize "the Book" and people will come. What happened? You don't suppose the problem was the reader instead of the Book, do you?
Another problem was the antiquated methods of evangelism. House to house visitation and knocking on doors was just too old fashioned. We live in a hi-tech world with more sophisticated people than ever before, so we must improve on God's program.
Another improvement was in the gospel presentation. Preaching is old fashioned; power point is the state of the art. Man's superior knowledge has taught him that man learns more through the "eye" than through the "ear." Visual aids are superior. No one seems to recall that Satan has always used the eye to tempt man.
"And when the woman SAW that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the EYES, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Genesis 3:6 (caps mine)
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the EYES, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." 1 John 2:15-16 (caps mine)
Notice what God says about His word.
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not HEARD? and how shall they HEAR without a preacher?...So then faith cometh by HEARING, and HEARING by the word of God." Romans 10:14,17 (caps mine)
Instead of obeying Paul's last words to Timothy,
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,"
we have improvised new methods of reaching the people and done away with doctrine. We have substituted the second commandment for the second one.
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matthew 22:37-39
For some reason, the 21st century preacher seems to think that dressing tacky invokes God's presence.
Psychology has replaced evangelism in our mega churches. Sermons are filled with "loving yourself." develop good self esteem," "think positive," "discover your inner self," "you're an OK person," etc.
Would you like to hear God's take on that psychology trash:
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…" Isaiah 64:6
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9
Now, let me ask the question. How is our "new and improved" Bible and church working out? It seems the new message and methods are driving people away, not bringing them in. When the church began to "merchandise" instead of evangelize, we went down the tube. When we decided to give the public what they wanted in a church, it failed. Sinful man doesn't know what he wants or what he needs. God knows, and God's people know, but sinful man doesn't know what to fix because he doesn't know what the problem is.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Romans 5:12
God's program or Book didn't stop working; man stopped working it. You wouldn't understand the daily paper if you didn't read it and your car wouldn't drive if you didn't start it.
Keep Looking Up!