There is currently in America a MASSIVE exodus from the church. The Pinetops Foundation recently commissioned a study in order to get a sense of just how big this exodus might be by the year 2050. They did their analysis using three different scenarios:
- Assuming present trends get worse
- Assuming present trends continue
- Assuming present trends improve
None of the scenarios are encouraging.
Assuming present trends get worse than they are now, as many as 42 million people raised in Christian homes will disaffiliate from Christianity by 2050.
Assuming present trends continue in line with how they are currently trending, 35 million people raised in Christian homes will disaffiliate from Christianity by 2050.
Assuming present trends improve to Generation X levels of decline, we would only see 26 million people raised in Christian homes disaffiliating from Christianity by 2050.
The figures are staggering, even assuming a best case scenario. As a Christian community, we have a choice to make. Are we going to continue business as usual, or are we going to reimagine our approach to dealing with the religious reorientation of American society? If we continue down our current path, the results mentioned above are the outcome we will see.
Personally, I am not willing to accept that, and have committed myself to do everything I can to help turn this trend around.
But I am not naive about what it will require, and am fully aware that I, as a single individual, have virtually no power to make it happen. In fact, there is no single person, no matter how well connected or popular they are in Christian circles, who is able to make a difference on their own. To pull off something this massive will require the efforts of the entire body of Christ working together.
But there is something I and other Christian leaders can do – we can “equip the body of Christ for the work of ministry.” And that model from Ephesians 4:11-13 is the ultimate key. God designed the body of Christ to work under His headship, so it is His will and purpose that must become central in any effort to move forward.
- He revealed that the primary purpose of church leaders is to equip the body of Christ for the work of ministry in the world.
- He revealed that it is the masses of Christians who comprise the body of Christ who are the primary the ones called to go out into the world and share the gospel in order to massively transform it.
But it is also essential that the content of the equipping be such that believers are able to actually accomplish God’s purpose. Studying and focusing on things like the return of Christ, how to help the down and out, denominational distinctives, the makeup of contemporary culture, how to become physically fit, and the like are all well and good as elements of one’s personal spiritual development. But none of those emphases will put a believer in a position to make an impact on the problem that is causing millions to leave the faith and our churches – NONE OF THEM!
To get at that problem will require that we get back to the basics – the most foundational elements that actually address the problem. Those basics are found in an understanding of worldview concepts. This is where we are able to profoundly grasp the essential core of our own Christian faith. This is where we are able to come to an understanding of the false beliefs that those who are walking away are listening to. This is where we are able to develop ways of expressing the gospel message in terms that are understandable to those who need to receive the message. This is where we are able to develop a foundation for defending our faith against the onslaughts of those coming against us.
But until we, as churches – as individual local expressions of the body of Christ – are willing to reimagine our discipleship training efforts, nothing will happen. If we continue the way we are going, we will continue to get the results we are getting. There is no time to waste. We need to begin that transformation NOW!
(If you are interested in exploring ways to help your church begin moving down that path, we welcome you to contact MarketFaith Ministries at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out our website at www.marketfaith.org.)
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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