South Atlantic District

“The Evangelical Witness to the Gospel in America. . .in a time of growing disillusionment”

Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Having just endured the political convention of both major parties within the last couple of weeks and observed the moral bankruptcy all around, we who are congregational leaders must provide an alternative focus for tired Christ-followers who may need some encouragement. Rather than become cynical and totally disillusioned by the obvious failings of politics and politicians, we have a focus available to us that can provide good foundation for an optimistic view of our world.  This optimism is available, not as a product of the “political platforms” but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s revelation of Himself in the Son, the Holy Spirit and the written word, the Bible.

The Gospel of Jesus is a message of hope. . .hope for today and hope for eternity. It is a credible, coherent and compelling message that promises true freedom, guaranteed by the saving work of Jesus, to those who will receive it. Faith in His ability to overcome sin and the impact of sin on our world gives us renewable courage and strength to live our faith.

Christ-followers may not be the majority voice in America. Indeed, there are days when the dominant voices of the governing elite, the university academics and the purveyors of popular culture scream out a message of defiance against the world view portrayed by the Scriptures. But we believe that the God of the Bible, as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer and Lover of mankind has spoken and we can embrace His word as our guidance for living. . .and hope!

And let us not believe the false narrative that Christianity is collapsing in America. My “go-to” researcher for reliable data on the church in the U.S.A. context for twenty years has been Ed Stetzer.  In a recent series of four articles Stetzer gives us some needed perspective.

Admittedly, some churches that no longer embrace the Bible as authoritative, are experiencing serious decline.

“While Christianity overall is not dying in America, Mainline Protestantism is getting closer. According to the GSS (the General Social Survey), 28% of Americans identified with a mainline church in 1972. By 2014, that number had dropped to 12.2%.”

In contrast, Evangelical churches, including The Alliance, continue to embrace the Gospel revealed by the Bible and witnessed to by the Spirit. The Gospel we offer is a message of hope, forgiveness, repentance, and transformational impact as we embrace Jesus Christ’s works, words, and ways. Stetzer’s research summarizes the state of the Evangelical church in America.

“The fact is that more than one-third of Americans are evangelical by self-identification. Furthermore, evangelicals attend church now more than ever. The 2014 GSS reported that in the last two years of the study, a greater percentage of evangelicals were attending church than any other time in the last four decades. Fifty-five percent of evangelicals attend church nearly every week. According to the Pew data, about half of American Christians claim to be evangelical or born again. According to Greg Smith of Pew Research:

Evangelical Protestantism constitutes the largest single religious tradition in the United States. Currently, one-quarter of U.S. adults identify with evangelical Protestant denominations. The share of Americans who identify with evangelicalism has ticked downward slightly in recent years (from 26% in 2007 to 25% as of 2014), but the number of evangelicals in the U.S. grew over this period.

Today, about 62 million U.S. adults identify with evangelical Protestant denominations, up from 60 million in 2007.” [The State of the American Church - Ed Stetzer, July 6, 2016, Christianity Today blog - “The Exchange”]

So let us encourage one another to re-center ourselves and focus on the Gospel of Jesus. Let us not only take solace in our apprehension of it, but find new ways to give it away to others. Witnessing to the truth of the Gospel is our mission and inviting others to join us in following Jesus is our privilege!

Be encouraged!

Mick