I read in the Presbyterian Outlook a fascinating statistic:
“1750-1790 was the only time of great evangelical decline in our history. In 1776, only 17 percent of Americans were religiously observant by 1850 that had risen to 34% and has been mostly on the rise ever since to a total of 62% from 1980 to 2000.”
As we search to sell religion so that it is more appetizing to the masses; are we seeking a greater market share at the expense of a quality product?
Should the Christian faith, with its core emphasis being upon a Sacrificial God who calls his followers to take their cross and follow him, experience this sort of growth?
Does our theology permit us to expect a 100% participation?*
Could the recent break down of blue-chip companies be a prophetic message for the established church as an institution? Granted the church will never die–if we believe that the church is Christ’s body and that Jesus Christ is alive–but may an ever increasing market share be problematic?
In Durham I heard a minister describe one of the interesting things occuring in the American Church is that the Evangelical church movement has and is built around zeal, creativity, and energy (you can see this start-up creativity in every Charlotte movie theater or bowling alley on Sunday mornings). Historically the Mainline church has been gifted with sustainability and longevity, though we have recently faltered. The two could learn a great deal from each other since both need creativity and longevity.
*Do notice that it is “religiously observant” not specifically Christian.