While most folks can buy into the notion of an intelligent being floating about in the cosmos, the idea of creation and a God very much alive and active in our daily lives is a bigger stretch. It is this step of faith that causes many to fall into the "agnostic" or "non-affiliated Christian" categories. Polls tells us that 80-90% of Americans proclaim a belief in God. Preachers proclaim a 70-80% absence from the pews.
Let's start with a typical scenario found after the Sunday morning services of any church of any major denomination. The congregants file out, shake hands with the Pastor, head downstairs for cookies and coffee, visit with one another for maybe twenty minutes or so, and chat.
Know what they chat about? The weather. The economy. Football. Kids. TV shows.
Notice something missing? That's right. Rarely will the conversations turn to Jesus, salvation, the bible, or even the sermon they just heard.
It's a comfort thing. Even church-attending Christians feel uncomfortable talking to each other about their faith. So, if we the followers of Christ can't even get over our embarrassment to speak His name in the church, why are we surprised when most Americans see no reason to attend church or speak openly about their faith?
Taking it a step further, if most Americans are unwilling to publicly proclaim their faith (unless, ironically, running for public office), why should the children of those quiet Christians grow up believing in anything at all? They shouldn't. And since this slip into a "personal religious viewpoint" has been going on for over forty years, it's no surprise that the pews are emptying.
This leaves us with two problems: how to start speaking openly about our faith, thus reversing the trend, and how to convince an entire generation of agnostics that God is real, God is alive, and God wants a relationship with them.
I don't believe this is simply a matter of packing people back into the church. I honestly believe that our country's survival depends on it.
More to come...