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Switch to Forum Live View Why is Christianity declining in America?
6 years ago  ::  May 27, 2009 - 11:40PM #1
DeweyCMH
Posts: 64

Are our churches shrinking because:


a.) We're teaching a watered down gospel, being unfaithful to our call, and the declining numbers are a sign of God's dissatisfaction with us?


b.) We've not watered down the gospel, but we've insisted on consistently teaching it from such a conservative origin point of interpretation that our version of the gospel message is (unnecessarily) distasteful to those who need to hear it?


c.) We've not watered down the gospel, but we've insisted on consistently teaching it from such a liberal origin point of interpretation that our version of the gospel message is (unnecessarily) distasteful to those who need to hear it?


d.) We've not watered down the gospel, but whether we lean liberal or conservative in our theological understanding of the gospel, we're trying to share the gospel message in a way that is increasingly out of phase, and therefore unintelligible, to those who need to hear it?


e.) God is punishing our society in general, because as a people we have turned away from God.


f.) Other (please elaborate)


...

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6 years ago  ::  May 30, 2009 - 12:30AM #2
greenponder
Posts: 1,395

a and f mostly a
The Episcopal Church, locked in a conflict over interpretations of the Bible and homosexuality, suffered the steepest decline, reporting a more than 4 percent drop to slightly fewer than 2.2 million members. Another mainline Protestant group, the 3 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), facing similar divisions, suffered a 2.4 percent membership decrease.
Biblically conservative nondenominational Christian fellowships, for example, are among the fastest growing, and their typical location is not in rural Appalachia but in major metropolitan centers.
Here are a few quotes from an interesting study:
www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9303/articles...
In our study, the single best predictor of church participation turned out to be belief-orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ. Virtually all our baby boomers who believe this are active members of a church.
Orthodox Christian belief of one variety or other, which the fundamentalists and other conservatives in our sample espouse, seems to impel people to commit their time and other resources to a distinctively Christian regimen of witness and obedience in the company of other believers.
In the distant past, good Presbyterians held regular devotions at home and instructed their children in the Shorter Catechism. Judging from our interviews, however, in many Presbyterian families today religion is not a common topic of conversation.
William B. Hutchison has shown that evangelical and fundamentalist bodies have been growing faster than the more liberal denominations for at least seventy years.

My observations:
The means of grace are the pure preaching of the gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, the exercise of discipline and prayer. If your church is shrinking it is because grace is not active and grace cannot be active unless the means of grace are being properly employed. When is the last time your church exercised discipline? Do the people in your church know that they are eating and drinking judgement if they partake of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner? Does any self examination take place before the Lord's Supper? Do you examine a parents commitment to bring up a child in the fear of the Lord when they want them to be baptized or is it just a ceremony?
Most of the public prayers I've heard lately are long on supplication and have some thanksgiving but are light on adoration and confession.
I would give the most credit for shrinking churches to preaching. If someone does not know how great their sin and misery are, what do they need to be saved from? My observation is that most people in the church don't have much of a commitment because they don't know squat about the Bible. If they had any idea of who God is and how much he detests sin, they would be in church twice on Sunday (if the Gospel was being preached there) and they would probably be in Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study as well. They might even open their Bibles at home or invite someone they know to church with them. From most of the preaching I've heard lately it's not surprising that most people who attend church don't have a clue what Christianity is all about.

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5 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2009 - 8:32PM #3
Roodog
Posts: 10,168

May 30, 2009 -- 12:30AM, greenponder wrote:


a and f mostly a
The Episcopal Church, locked in a conflict over interpretations of the Bible and homosexuality, suffered the steepest decline, reporting a more than 4 percent drop to slightly fewer than 2.2 million members. Another mainline Protestant group, the 3 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), facing similar divisions, suffered a 2.4 percent membership decrease.
Biblically conservative nondenominational Christian fellowships, for example, are among the fastest growing, and their typical location is not in rural Appalachia but in major metropolitan centers.
Here are a few quotes from an interesting study:
www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9303/articles...
In our study, the single best predictor of church participation turned out to be belief-orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ. Virtually all our baby boomers who believe this are active members of a church.
Orthodox Christian belief of one variety or other, which the fundamentalists and other conservatives in our sample espouse, seems to impel people to commit their time and other resources to a distinctively Christian regimen of witness and obedience in the company of other believers.
In the distant past, good Presbyterians held regular devotions at home and instructed their children in the Shorter Catechism. Judging from our interviews, however, in many Presbyterian families today religion is not a common topic of conversation.
William B. Hutchison has shown that evangelical and fundamentalist bodies have been growing faster than the more liberal denominations for at least seventy years.

My observations:
The means of grace are the pure preaching of the gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, the exercise of discipline and prayer. If your church is shrinking it is because grace is not active and grace cannot be active unless the means of grace are being properly employed. When is the last time your church exercised discipline? Do the people in your church know that they are eating and drinking judgement if they partake of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner? Does any self examination take place before the Lord's Supper? Do you examine a parents commitment to bring up a child in the fear of the Lord when they want them to be baptized or is it just a ceremony?
Most of the public prayers I've heard lately are long on supplication and have some thanksgiving but are light on adoration and confession.
I would give the most credit for shrinking churches to preaching. If someone does not know how great their sin and misery are, what do they need to be saved from? My observation is that most people in the church don't have much of a commitment because they don't know squat about the Bible. If they had any idea of who God is and how much he detests sin, they would be in church twice on Sunday (if the Gospel was being preached there) and they would probably be in Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study as well. They might even open their Bibles at home or invite someone they know to church with them. From most of the preaching I've heard lately it's not surprising that most people who attend church don't have a clue what Christianity is all about.





I don't know about everyone else, but here are some the things I struggle with:


>I struggle against my own sinfulness and spiritual sloth in going the way of least resistance.


>I struggle against what is going on in my own denomination in the confusion between Biblical Conversion and the decisionism that was dumped into our theology by Charles Finney. This is a gross violation of the Gospel of Grace:


1)It violates the Sovereignty of God.


2)It denies the Total depravity of mankind.


3)It adds works to the Gospel of Grace. 


4)It makes us, not Christ our savior.


5)It makes the Altar Call a sacrament in a non sacramental church.


 6)It allows  for the unregenerate to recieve baptism, church membership and even pastoral ministry and church offices.


7)It undermines the Perseverence of the Saints, if you can decide for Christ, you can decide to forsake him and go back on the road to perdition.


>I struggle against the fluffy worship with praise songs instead of the old hymns. The hymns are as important as the preaching in teaching the people doctrine. Besides the hymns aren't sung repetatively for several minutes like praise songs. What did Jesus say about repetative prayer? 


>I struggle to discern the difference between truth and bull$*** coming down from the pulpit as truth. Health and wealth and sloppy agape, holy laughter and so forth. Christans need meat, not candy to feed their souls. Christians lack the knowledge of their Churches' doctrine and a desire to learn the basic truths of their faith.


>I struggle with the trend to make the church look less like a church in order to make it "less offensive" or "more comfortable" to non Christians. Let the Church be the Church.


I think I had covered my pet peeves and concerns.

For those who have faith, no explanation is neccessary.
For those who have no faith, no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

If one turns his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 10, 2009 - 2:15PM #4
ToujoursDan
Posts: 1,065

Most of mainline Christianity's decline is because mainline Christians aren't having kids like they used to. The average birthrate for Presbyterians and Episcopalians is 1.3 children per couple. In order to maintain a stable membership population, that number would have to be 2.1 per couple. So we are nowhere close to that.


 


Even if the church did everything you said, the decline would continue.


 


The popular notion that conservative churches are growing because mainline churches are too liberal is being challenged by new research that offers a simpler cause for much of the mainline decline--the use of birth control. Differences in fertility rates account for 70 percent of the decline of mainline Protestant church membership from 1900 to 1975 and the simultaneous rise in conservative church membership, the sociologists said.


"For most of the 20th century, conservative women had more children than mainline women did," three sociologists--Michael Hout of the University of California-Berkley, Andrew Greeley of the University of Arizona and Melissa Wilde of Indiana University--wrote in Christian Century.


"It took most of the 20th century for conservative women to adopt family-planning practices that have become dominant in American society," the writers said. "Or to put the matter differently, the so-called decline of the mainline may ultimately be attributable to its earlier approval of contraception."


While mainline churches could claim 60 percent of the total Protestant congregants in 1900, their share fell to 40 percent in 1960. Many religious observers and some sociologists attributed the drop--and simultaneous growth of conservative churches--to the lethargy of liberalism and the appeal of biblical certainty.


But simple demographics can account for almost three fourths of the mainline decline, the trio of sociologists said. "In the years after the baby boom, the mainline (fertility) rate declined earlier than did the rate of conservatives. Only in recent decades have the fertility rates of the two groups become similar."


The researchers studied shifts in church membership from 1900 to 1975 and the accompanying differences in fertility rates between women in conservative churches--Baptist, Assembly of God, Pentecostal and the like--and mainline ones such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran.


They also created a demographic model that projected what would have happened to mainline and conservative memberships if the difference in fertility rates was the only factor influencing membership during the same period. "The answer is that it would look remarkably like it does in real life," they concluded.



From the Baptist Standard: Fertility not Theology cause of Decline

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