Those of us who deeply love the Church, can take great solace in the fact that this is not – as they say in Texas – our first Rodeo. There have been many times throughout history where all hope seemed lost. Gnosticism, the Nicolaitans, the political takeover of the church by the Romans, the crusades, the inquisitions, the indulgences of the middle ages, church splits and the list goes on.
Despite many challenges, the Church has always had a remnant of faithful led by principled leaders such as Paul, Jerome, Ignatius, John Knox, John and Charles Wesley, Billy Graham and others. Like Elijah of old, we do not stand alone. God has reserved untold thousands who will not bend their knees to the World system.
We have more large churches than perhaps ever before in history. There appears to be a church or para-church organization on every corner and Christian websites abound. Despite all of this, studies and surveys consistently show the falling levels of church attendance and Biblical literacy. Here are a few examples from George Gallup, Jim Castelli, LifeWay Research and George Barna
- Less than half of American adults can name the four gospels.
- 8 in 10 Americans believe that “God helps those who help themselves” is a quote from the Bible.
- Less than 40% of Americans can name five of the ten commandments
- Many Christians can not name three of the twelve disciples.
- Less than half of weekly church attenders read their Bible more than once a week. (What about the others?)
- About 20% of church attenders say they never read the Bible.
It seems to me that if the level of impact was anywhere near the level of effort, our culture would be very different. So, is the Church prospering, or is it falling apart? The answer is, “yes.” There always remains that faithful that God will use for His glory, however, there is also much work to be done.