When was the last time the Christian church was mainstream in the U.S.?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly, but hard evidence might conclude around 1955. What is the evidence?
- Church attendance was high.
- Billy Graham was filling stadiums.
- Christian radio was growing.
- New Bible translations were coming out.
- Seminaries were full of young aspiring students becoming pastors.
Consider how different the faith is today.
- Many traditional churches are in steep decline and have been for decades.
- Christian bookstores are folding.
- Christian radio hangs on, even on Sirius.
- Few Christian leaders gain media attention (Franklin Graham when there is a disaster, and Joel Osteen, when he writes a new book).
- Nondenominational churches are growing.
- Christian book sales are fairly strong, distributed through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com.
- Contemporary Christian music is growing.
- Churches are multiplying themselves through other network churches.
The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is one of the most significant recent events, last October 31st. From the perspective of the new media, it was a NON-EVENT.
There are a few historical markers that might be noteworthy.
- When most churches decline to a level where Christians recognize the losses, it seems to provide a wake-up call.
- When non-Christians are discouraged by the state of the country, they become hopeless…and begin to search for answers. This is a sign of receptivity.
- When seminaries wane in enrollment, they begin to ask hard questions about the curriculum. They are also reminded that the world has changed, even though the Bible hasn’t.
- When large numbers of Boomer pastors retire, church leadership reverts back to the members.
- With a decline in attendance, church leaders begin to look for answers.
Could a new chapter in the history of Christianity be nearby? American Christianity parallels the Christian movement in England, about 20 years later. When we take groups of twenty or less to England each year to see the churches leading the recovery movement there, American Christians experience the living classroom for the renewal of their churches in the years to come.
Where do you think Christianity is going next?