Everywhere there is a growing consensus that Christianity in America is on the wane. Is that a true picture of things?
The answer, of course, is that no one knows.
The reason I say this is because of how the data are gathered–and then reported. Increasingly, all who profess to be Christians, are lumped together. Even some cultists—let alone weird and liberal groups who pretend to be Christians—are labeled and then counted as such. If these are diminishing, then supposedly true Christianity is too. Even if it isn’t.
But if they are not—and there is little reason to believe that they are—then are true Christian churches on the way down?
The fact is, although the groups counted as Christian, groups which are of all colors and stripes, that sort of grouping has been true to some extent for quite some time—at least for a century, so that faulty criteria for determining who is a believer can’t really be the reason for this seeming situation.
What is, then? Nothing. As I said, we have no idea how many genuine Christians there are in America. For that matter, you can’t even be sure about the Christianity of all of those in your solid, Bible-believing church! Only God really knows.
Then why even discuss the matter?
Good question. Because we ought not even be trying to count (how about it Barna!). There is no way you can get a DNA sample of a person, put it into a test tube together with the right substance, shake it four times. and have it turn out true BLUE (if the person being examined is genuine).
Besides, were we able to count, it wouldn’t really matter. Jesus Christ is conducting the course of His church throughout history, and we don’t know what He is planning for the future. There could be another dark age ahead. If so, Christians are the light of the world—i.e., people with lives designed to shine so as to lead the way. If it means He will bring about glorious revival, then we can all sing His praises with greater intensity since there will be more of us to do so!
So, there is a reason why it doesn’t really matter whether we can know if the church ls growing or not, even though it is our task to attempt by evangelization to help increase its numbers. That is what we should concentrate on.