The movement of Christianity often goes through cycles.
Stage #1: Christianity is strong.
- Churches are growing.
- Christian influence impacts the society.
- Adult Christians are assimilating their children in the faith.
- Christians are respected, even by those who are not believers.
- Life, though never perfect, is considered “good” throughout the land.
Stage #2: Over time, Christians experience subtle but significant drift from the spiritual center of Christianity.
- Having been blessed by God, Christians prosper.
- The results of prosperity are more toys, better living.
- This prosperity masks the level of the importance of faith—slowly, incrementally.
- Worship attendance declines in two ways:
- Some drift away from church, but consider themselves to be “religious.”
- Others continue to worship but the frequency moves from “every Sunday” to “maybe twice a month,” which seems fine to them.
- Personal Bible reading and group Bible study begins to decline.
- Corruption grows in the land.
- People get discouraged.
- Those without personal faith lose hope.
- The church begins to drift from spiritual distinctive to activities that are not unique to Christianity.
Stage #3: God sends prophets.
- Spiritual leaders call out those waning in spirituality.
- At first, the prophets are ignored.
- Life becomes more challenging, disruptive, troubled.
- The prophets are mostly ignored.
Stage# 4: Churches fall into decline.
- The faith is ignored among many people.
- The tensions rise among competing ideologies in the land.
- Some churches begin to regroup around biblical priorities.
- Many pastors are discouraged.
- Growing numbers of pastors leave the ministry, and seek other employment.
- An atmosphere of discouragement begins to penetrate many of those who are still in the church and active.
Stage #5: Some committed Christians in every church begin to experience “holy discontent.”
- They feel the church does many things well, yet it doesn’t seem to be growing and impacting the community around them.
- These Christians with holy discontent recognize the lack of spiritual fruit.
- They begin to look for solutions.
- They are the “early adopters,” of efforts for spiritual renewal.
Nothing is exact, but where do you think Christianity in America lands today?