What’s Happening in the American Church? By Bruce Ingram with Doug Nichols

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Global Challenge
At a recent mission consultation, TOPIC Director, Paul Landry passionately
painted a global perspective of the explosive church growth in the majority
world. Consequently there is a crisis of church leadership. Everyday there
are 175,000 new Christians. 30,000 are in China alone. 80-95% of today's
pastoral leaders lack basic information and tools to effectively equip their
people. Agencies like TOPIC and ACTION equipped 44,014 Master Builders in
2006. Still, in 2005 there were 3.2 million untrained Christian workers,
estimated to increase to 4.2 million by the year 2025. However the USA
church seems to be in decline.

American Reality

Christianity Today magazine reprinted a story from Outreach magazine last
year titled "Special Report: The American Church in Crisis." New research
reveals sobering statistics on church attendance; but which statistics?
Gallup and Barna's report that church attendance grew from 37% in 1996 to
47% in 2006. This is great news if it were true.

But in reality the churches and denominations report a trend of significant
· Between 2000 and 2004 the mainline denominational churches dropped 10%,
while Evangelicals experienced an overall 1% drop in worship attendance.
· But during this same time, 2000 - 2004 the population of the U.S. grew by
18.1% -- more than 48 million people. So even though attendance in
evangelical churches is nearly the same they are not keeping up with
population growth.
· At present trends, by 2050, the percentage of U.S. population attending
church will be almost half of what it was in 1990 a drop from 20.4% to 11.7%
(an estimate drop to 16.6% by 2010, and 15.4% in 2020).

What We Can Do
The church in America is in decline. The status quo is not acceptable.
Several movements are responding to the current situation. But there are
many truth and doctrinal issues in these movements. What can the average
evangelical church member do? Here are a few simple Biblical directives we
can all embrace.
· Pray. When the nation of Israel found themselves in decline the Lord
directed them saying, "if My people, who are called by My name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then
will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their
land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV). When we are faced with problems beyond
ourselves can we do anything less than starting with humble prayer and
examination of our own hearts before God?
· Guard Your Heart. Consider how our American affluence and materialism gets
in the way of seeing our need for God and biblical truth and holiness. Be
generous with your life and resources as you seek to trust and pursue God
with all your heart and worship Him alone (Luke 12:15-21; Matthew 6:19-24).
· Jump Into Christ's Mission. With the love of Christ constraining our
hearts let each Christian reach one person with the Gospel. Each pastor and
elder disciple one person for leadership and ministry multiplication during
the year. Each evangelical church send out one missionary every two years.
If each of us would do this then one major denomination would go from 16
million to 32 million! Church attendance and ministries would double, and
there would be 400,000 missionaries by 2010 instead of the less than 50,000
now sent from the U.S.

Why Not Do Something?
It starts with us. Whatever the cost, let's and our church move forward in
faith and trust God with the gospel and compassionate care for His glory!