Good News for the Church in America

A new survey is about religion in America is out and here’s the summary from a CNN article:

America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.

 there has been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation.

it is now more socially acceptable than it once was to admit having no religion.

“You’re not declaring yourself a total pariah. The culture has changed in a way that makes it easier to say, ‘No, I don’t have a religion. Even in the past year, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama feel obliged to talk about ‘those of no faith,’ ” he pointed out. Obama mentioned people without faith in his inaugural address in January, making him the first president to do so.

Church attendance is dropping and more and more people feel comfortable in our culture having no religious affiliation…why is that good news for the church?  I believe it is good news.  I believe this is a time of great potential growth for the church.  I believe this could be a time when the church could be the radically counter-cultural witness that it’s meant to be.  

Whenever you are expected to be a Christian in the culture, the meaning of what a Christian is becomes lost.  When everyone is a Christian no one is.  Or maybe not ‘no one’, but being a Christian ceases to mean much.  I hope people go to church and call themselves Christians because they love Jesus not because it’s what the neighbors are doing.

Additionally, Christianity is best observed in contrast to culture–when Christians are willing to take stands against the abusive and oppressive systems that inevitably arise in our world.  If everyone goes to church, then there is no clear distinction between the church and the world around it.  The church becomes complicit in these systems of sin.  The result is a tepid and un-compelling corporate witness that fails to be the prophetic, future-oriented, hope-filled community the church is meant to be.

So the fact that people no longer feel like ‘pariahs’ if they don’t go to church is a good thing.  Now, people are free to embrace God and Christianity if they want to, not because they are supposed to.