A friend and adviser to this newsletter returned last week
from a visit to the Ukraine where he was engaged in the
development of an expanded program of evangelism. His
comment upon his return, "The Christians in the Ukraine
put American Christians to shame." He was speaking of
Christians who live in a small country, located next to, and
in the shadow of, Russia where religious freedom has long
And he is right. Last week, in the issue of this newsletter for
October 10, we cited the report that North America is the only
continent on earth where the Christian church is not showing
growth. That is a startling fact, and some of the reasons for it
are alarming to Christians committed to the Evangelical cause.
Among all the surveys and the reports generated by them,
two recent reports from the Barna Group of Ventura, California,
stand out as particularly significant. One report, dated October
8, 2007, relates directly to teenagers, who are perceived to be
among the most religiously active Americans. Among their
religious practices, 72% say they pray in a typical week, 48%
attend worship services, 35% attend Sunday School, and 31%
read the Bible.
Encouraging as those figures would appear to be, they do
represent quite a sharp decline from a similar survey 10 years
ago – from 81% t0 72% as to prayer; from 53% to 48% as to
worship services, and from 37% to 31% as to Bible reading.
With respect to church attendance, the most important
reason for doing so was "to worship or make a connection with
God" at 45%. To choose between a church which teaches tradition
and background of their faith, and one that teaches how their faith
should influence everyday decisions and life styles, they chose the
latter by 39% to 16%. However, overall, 45% of teenagers said
they didn’t prefer either type of church. An earlier report from
the Barna Group, dated September 24, 2007, was focused on the
young adult portion of the population, those in the 16 - 29 age
bracket.There the declining reputation of Christianity was most
In the 10 years since the last such survey, when a strong majority
of non-Christians felt favorably toward the role of Christianity in
society, the current figure reflects a sharp decline to 16% of non-
Christians in this age bracket who have a good impression
It is particularly disturbing to note that Evangelicals are hit
most hard in this evaluation, and only 3% of the 16-29 age young
people express favorable views of Evangelicals. The overall
opinion expressed as to present day Christianity was that it is
"judgmental" 87%; "hypocritical" 85% and "old fashioned" 78%.
The perception of Christianity that is now the most common
one is that it is "anti-homosexual." 91% of non-Christians and
80% of church-goers have that impression. Among the most
frequently voiced opinions of Christianity were: "It has changed
from what it used to be," and"In today’s society it no longer looks
Many reasons are offered for these unfavorable trends in the
opinions of young people as to the Christian faith. A demographic
reason would reveal that the percentage of non-believers increases
with each generation. Among adults over the age of 40, they
number about 25%. Among the 16-29 age bracket, they number
about 40%. Following this trend, in the next generation they will
represent an even greater percentage of the population.
This is not an in-depth analysis or study. We have briefly presented
a summary of the results of some surveys conducted in a
thoroughlyprofessional manner by a respected research group.
This must be faced, that today Evangelicals and their churches
have failed and are failing, and are not withstanding the attacks on
our faith by liberals, atheists, agnostics and those who represent
another religion. It may well be asked, "What ever happened to the
much touted success of some of the ‘Mega’ or ‘Giga’ churches, and
some of their much publicized televangelists?" "Revival" may not
be a New Testament word or a New Testament concept, but using
some acceptable terminology we need a "revival" or a "spiritual
awakening" in America ... and soon.
A familiar, much needed Scriptural prayer: "O Lord, I have
heard thy speech and was afraid. O Lord revive thy work in the
midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath
remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2)
Afterthoughts . . .
A new survey – on Bible verses! This has almost become the
Age of Polls or Surveys, ranking everything from the approval of
the public on the performance of the president to the opinion on
the Iraq war or the advantage of cars which run on fuels other
than gasoline. But here is a survey based on 37 million Bible
references, which discloses the most cited, most familiar or the
favorite Bible verses. Not surprising, the most familiar verse is
John 3:16. The most quoted book is Ephesians . . . but check on
your "Favorites" folder . . . you will want to refer to it frequently.
Even Nancy Pelosi knows when to flip-flop. When an
Eagle Scout arranged for a flag which had flown over the US
Capitol to be presented to his grandfather, he asked for the
wording on the certificate to mention the devotion of his
grandfather to God, country and family. The flag procedure
is done hundreds of times each year by Members of Congress
for their constituents. But this time the Architect of the Capitol
deleted the word God. During the adverse reaction to his
decision, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at first defended
the elimination of the word God. However, so many people
across America disagreed with her and expressed their objection
to the decision, that the Architect changed his self-developed
rule, and agreed to permit the word God to appear when
requested in such certificates. Nancy quickly got on board,
reversed her previous anti-God stance and agreed that it was
OK to mention God, even in our nation’s capitol. It proves that
John Kerry did not fail as a flip-flopping role model.
Jimmy Carter is at it again. Last May, when the former
president was busy promoting the marketing of his audio book
series of Bible stories for children, he lashed out at President
Bush, calling this administration "the worst in history." Now
he has turned his wrath, or his righteous (?) indignation on
Vice President Cheney, calling him "a disaster for our country."
Mr. Carter, who previously seemed to have the Worst President
title locked up, seems to forget that at the end of his term as
president he left us with inflation at 12%, unemployment at 7.5%,
interest rates at 18.1%, and he also left 52 American hostages
imprisoned in Iran. But perhaps he may be excused as having
a short memory.
In line with the theme of the main essay in this issue,
a new survey by Kelton Research has disclosed that Americans
know more about the ingredients in a McDonald "Big Mac"
than they do about the Ten Commandments. The respondees
named the ingredients as two all-beef patties, 80%; lettuce,
76%; sesame seed bun, 75%; special sauce, 66% and cheese,
60%. By contrast, "Thou shalt not kill" was known to less than
60%; "Honor thy father and mother" was known to only 45%.
However, 70% recalled "Thou shalt not kill" and 69% knew
about "Thou shalt not steal." One conclusion might be drawn
that Americans spend more time eating Big Macs than reading
the Bible. This could be considered as humorous, or very serious.
Could this be a sign of the times? National Churchwatch, a
British church safety group, has advised Catholic and Anglican
clergy to remove their clerical collars when off duty to avoid
being singled out for attack. While no official figures for acts
of violence against clergy are available, a study done by the
University of London in 2001 found that seven in ten clergy
(70%) had experienced some degree of violent attacks in the
period 1997-1999. It may be that the unfavorable opinion of
Christianity is finding its expression in a realistic way.
An interesting thought, with religious and national security
overtones: "Do you support the mosques in America preaching
jihad and recruiting jihadists? If a pastor or rabbi endorses a
candidate, the church or synagogue can lose its tax exemption,
Mosques can regularly host terrorists and preach jihad with
no penalty." – Jerusalem Prayer Team, October 10.
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