Is the U.S. in a post-Christian era?
That’s the assessment of some as they look at signs of religiosity.
In its report “The Most Post-Christian Cities in America: 2017,” Barna looked at 16 criteria to assess the country’s religious landscape. Included in this assessment were factors such as church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, belief in God, and numerous other criteria.
The answers helped Barna determine the most post-Christian cities across the country. The results show that most of the post-Christian cities are centered on the East and West coasts.
The report says: “Rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have all been dropping for decades. By consequence, the role of religion in public life has been slowly diminishing …. These are unique days for the church in America as it learns what it means to flourish in a new ‘Post-Christian’ era.”
While these reports tend to leave us with a feeling of dismay, they should also leave us with a sense of opportunity and hope.
The decline of religious influence gives us many opportunities to demonstrate and communicate the gospel in new, unique and compelling ways. While we lament that fewer people understand Bible stories, don’t pray very often or don’t attend church—and these are disappointing developments to be sure—we can use this as motivation to multiply our efforts.
Church planters should see this as an opportunity to develop a congregation in a city that has very little exposure to the Gospel.
Established churches should see this as a challenge to reach into their communities with the message of love, hope and forgiveness—messages that are too rare these days.
And individual Christians should understand that their neighbor, co-worker or fellow school parent may not have much knowledge of Jesus. This opens the door wide for Gospel communication and demonstration.
It might be an entire new world today regarding Christianity in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean it must be dismaying. It can be exciting, challenging and awe-inspiring. Because we can only imagine what Jesus will do!
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