Friday, June 26, 2009

Some Daunting Numbers: 75, and 9

Here are a couple of statistics that serve to buttress the case for Michael Spencer's The Coming Evangelical Collapse ...

... is the percentage of young adults who, after they leave high school and the comparative safety of their parents home to go off to college or into the workforce, also leave the church.

NINE ...
... is the percentage of self-proclaimed born-again, evangelical Christians who actually hold to what can be considered a Biblical Worldview.

It doesn't take much of an imagination to see where those kinds of trends will take us. But, it seems to me, it does take quite a high level of denial in the face of these statistics, to disagree with the "internet monk." How does the church sustain itself when less than 10% of its members can defend their own alleged view of the world? Obviously they can't -- which is why their kids are all walking away from the faith. Other surveys show that the percentage of self-identified Christians has dropped from 86% to 76% since 1990. At the same time, those who report no religious affiliation has more than doubled, from 8% to 15% (USA Today, April 27, 2009, p. 11A).

That same report shows some more positive news within the negative. For instance, almost the entire jump in "no affiliation" came by 2001, where it reached 14.1%. In other words, there has only been a 0.9% increase in the "no affiliation" crowd over the last 8 years -- basically a flatline. It also shows that much of the exodus from mainline Christian churches has been toward non-denominational churches.

OK but this, I think, is wishful thinking. While those who are attempting to spin the results to be less daunting, it seems to be a stretch. Once again, look at Europe. Mainline Christian churches on the Continent have either disappeared or been gutted. That is nothing new. And while those non-denominational churches in America may have grown over the last few years, what have they grown into? These are the spiritualized dens of a "Christless Christianity" that have brought us the 75% and 9% statistics discussed above.

I don't see how we can avoid some form of a collapse. Maybe Spencer has exaggerated the size of it but it seems to me his prognostication can't be all that far off.

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