If you follow any news concerning religion in America, you will have heard that Christianity isn’t growing in our nation. The Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Protestant denomination, is in decline. Some have said that as much as 85% of churches in America are plateaued or declining. America, any way you look at her, is not the Christian stronghold it once was.
What’s going on?
So why is this happening? Why is Christianity struggling? What’s hindering the proclamation of the gospel? Some will say it’s our current moral climate within the nation. People have become openly antagonistic to Christians and their message. The media industry is against Christians. Hollywood is against Christians. Political parties are against Christians. The Supreme Court is against Christians.
Some will say it’s the rise of Calvinism with its accompanying belief in predestination that is killing Christianity and hindering the gospel’s proclamation. Some will say it’s the rise of seeker friendly megachurches who promote an easy believism. Some will say it’s the rise of prosperity gospel churches which proclaim no gospel at all.
One reason for our decline
I think there is one, and only one, hindrance to the spread of the gospel. It’s the silence of Christians. Christians are not engaging their lost neighbors, coworkers, family members, classmates, or really anyone with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord can overcome poor gospel presentations. He can overcome gospel sharers whose lifestyle doesn’t match the message. He can overcome shy Christians, loud Christians, nervous Christians, and even obnoxious Christians. But He can’t overcome silent Christians.
Why? The message we’ve been given is meant to be proclaimed. It’s good news. If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, Christians must tell others the gospel so they can hear and be saved. No sharing the gospel, no hearing the gospel. No hearing the gospel, no faith in the message of the gospel. No faith in the message of the gospel, no one being saved.
The problem is me!
Is it really that simple? Is the key to turning back the decline in the growth of Christianity really for Christians to begin sharing the gospel? I think so. I love what J. D. Greear says, “The strange thing is, the more people I share Christ with, the more people seem to keep getting elected!” I can pray all I want that God will save the lost. But if I’m not willing to be His instrument proclaiming the gospel to the lost, I’m in rebellion against Him.
Listen, we can have all kinds of gospel meetings where we talk about the gospel. But if all I do is talk with other Christians about the gospel, but I never talk to the lost about the gospel, I’m just a clanging symbol. It’s not the well who need the doctor, it’s the sick. If I’m more excited about a conference or a book than I am broken over the lostness of my city, I have a heart problem. If conferences and books and how-to seminars about the gospel don’t fuel a passion to make the gospel known to the lost, the problem isn’t our nation’s moral climate or a Christian’s particular theological persuasion. The problem is me!
God has ordained the means
God has ordained one means by which people will be saved and that’s Christians telling people the good news of the gospel. Christians keep praying for an awakening within our nation. I pray for that to happen as well. But the awakening will happen when Christians love Jesus so much, and they love lost people so much, that they will do everything so that they will meet.
The biggest hindrance to the spread of the gospel isn’t outside of us, it’s us! May our Lord empower us with His love so that, with Peter and John, we will say, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)