4 Responses to Declining Christianity

I recently read two different articles that revealed some shocking numbers about the state of Christianity, especially in America. Christianity Today recently reported that “Around two-thirds of people who usually attend church at least monthly said they were back in the pews in March (67%), roughly the same as in September 2021 (64%)” (source). That means that a third of church-goers who attended before Covid had not yet come back last September and this hasn’t changed up through last month either.

In addition, the American Bible Society recently shared that people are reading their Bible significantly less than before. “In 2022, Bible users in the U.S. accounted for just 39% of the adult population, the lowest in more than a decade” (source). They refer to this as an “unprecedented drop.” The numbers show that people are attending church less and reading their Bible less.

I have a few thoughts as to why.

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2022 Reading List – 1/4

2022 Reading List – 1/4

We’re a fourth of the way through 2022 which means it’s time to check in on my reading list for the year. So far I’m slightly behind schedule. Here are the books I’ve read since January with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher.

Click on any of the titles below to get to a link to buy it. (Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com).

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Perfectionism is the Voice of the Oppressor

In her book on writing, author Anne Lamott says that “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft” (Bird by Bird).

I think this applies to far more than early drafts of things we write.

We’re all tempted to appear as if we’ve arrived at some perfected version of ourselves. This is the version we project of ourselves on social media and online. This is the version of ourselves we usually show professionally. This is the version of us that people who don’t really know us believe.

The problem with playing this game is that it leaves you no room for growth.

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Where is Jesus Headed?

I was having a conversation with my kids this week when one of them asked me to explain Judaism. Essentially I told them it represented the Old Testament part of their Bible without a belief in Jesus. To which they asked, “Don’t we believe in the Old Testament?” I replied that we did, but then I casually said the phrase: “Christians are Jews who kept going.”

By that I mean our faith is built upon a similar foundation to that of Judaism, but we found what the Old Testament was pointing to in the person of Jesus and that launched us into an entirely new journey of focusing on Him. But did that journey end with the New Testament? Or said differently, if the Old Testament is pointing to Jesus, what is Jesus in the New Testament pointing to?

Admittedly, there is much in Christianity in America that I consider falls far short of the person of Jesus. Just because we’ve generally accepted an idea or it’s been around for a while does not necessarily make it true.

One of the most underrated things Jesus ever said is found in John 16.

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Holding the Church Accountable

I’ve been watching an incredibly sad story play out in a church community I love. There’s a church called The Meeting House in Canada that I’ve been connected with for a bit now. It recently came out that Bruxy Cavey (the Lead Pastor) was being accused of sexual abuse from a member in their community.

Not only have I been a big fan of The Meeting House, I’ve been a big fan of Bruxy. He’s helped me work through theological nuances on a number of topics. He endorsed my last book. He and I even talked briefly about the possibility of starting the first U.S. campus for the Meeting House after I left my last church. It’s a devastating feeling to learn that someone you have immense respect for has abused his power in such a profound way.

Yet my heart primarily breaks for this woman and the hurt and shame she has had to carry. When I was a Lead Pastor I resigned my position in our church after I fundamentally disagreed with the direction our eldership was going. That caused me to feel more isolated and alone in our community than I ever could have imagined. I cannot even fathom the depths of trauma this woman has gone through and continues to go through as she brings this to light. Especially as her voice has not been fully listened to in this process.

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The Reality of Two Churches

“The task of prophetic ministry is to hold together criticism and energizing, for I should urge that either by itself is not faithful to our best tradition.”

Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

The quote above comes from one of my favorite books. I just finished my sixth read-through since I discovered the book in 2017. I love the two words he’s picked here and the way in which our faith is best expressed through both of them. We must be critical of what needs to change and energetic in offering something new.

But here’s the catch, there aren’t many expressions of Christianity today that do a great job highlighting both energizing and criticizing. In fact, it seems more clear than ever we’re witnessing a modern schism in the church between the institutional church and the deconstruction community.

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