Eric Tonjes looks at the various studies and statistics that have been gathered concerning the current state, and future of, Christianity in America, and finds that the picture isn’t rosy, but neither is it as dire as some might think.
So much for a survey of the stats. There are certainly things that American evangelicals need to work on. However, there is also great cause to be encouraged. Contrary to the pessimistic predictions of 30-40 years ago, America has not become Europe, nor does it look to be doing so any time soon. Evangelicalism in America isn’t doing perfectly, but it is doing fine.
I realize “doing fine” isn’t a ringing endorsement, and I don’t mean it to be. There are plenty of areas where the church needs to grow. However, there is a huge difference between needing to grow and the alarmism I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The problem with catastrophic stats is that, while they are usually meant to motivate people, they end up doing the opposite. If 96% of my generation or the one after me is leaving the faith, it doesn’t make me want to reach out to the world. Instead, it makes me want to move somewhere friendlier to Christianity – like communist China. The last hundred years of alarmism in American evangelicalism has done at least as much to hinder the faith as it has to help it. We don’t need to encourage a bunker mentality in evangelicals; rather, we need to tell them to come out of their fallout shelters.