Here’s something to think about: one doesn’t have to look closely at Western Christianity to tell it is in jeopardy. With over 85% of our churches simultaneously declining and aging, the number of Christians in the West will drop by 50% within the next 25 years.
However, that’s not the whole picture. Visit many parts of the world, and you’ll see Christianity exploding with new converts – Korea, China, Fiji, South Africa, India, Nigeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, Latin America, etc. Just consider Latin America. In 1900, there were only 50,000 Protestants in Latin America. In the 1980s, they had grown to 50,000,000, and by the year 2000, they had reached 137,000,000. The same thing is happening in other parts of the world. The Great Commission is being fulfilled throughout the world – just not here. Ever wonder why? Let me list the reasons I see:
- Western Christians do not live and breathe salvation. We are content to sit and soak and leave the salvation of our networks to church staff. Even then, many church staffs are in it to maintain, not transform. Just ask your congregation, “When was the last time you had a conversation with a lost person about Jesus?” and see their reaction.
- Western Christians have become too sophisticated to truly believe in miracles. If you don’t believe in miracles, you can’t believe in Jesus because he IS a miracle. We are too smart to truly believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that he now sits at the right hand of God. If that isn’t believable, nothing else in the story is believable from that day forward.
- Western Christians have become too affluent to risk all for Jesus. When you are poor, it is easy to be sold out for Jesus. But when you have 90% of the world’s riches, it’s hard.
- Western Christians are saddled with pastors who focus more on their next promotion than on how to reach the least, the last, and the lost. I know, I’ve gone to meddling now, but you know it’s true with many of us. Pastor, which do you think about the most – an increase in salary or new converts?
- Western Christianity has misunderstood what is meant by the word “church.” Most of us think about a building when we hear the word church. Or we think of an institution to which we belong. We talk about “going to church” when in reality we ARE the church everywhere we go. Because we confuse church with buildings and institutions, we fail to see the importance of how we live our lives after we leave the building. We don’t see a disconnect between how we live and what we say we believe.
I know there are many other reasons why Western Christianity is dying while Christianity is exploding over much of the world. But these are the ones that stand out the most for me as I look into the mirror and see too much of them in my life.
Question: What other reasons do you see for the decline of Western Christianity? Share your observations in the Comments section below.