It’s About Love, Not Survival

The trend is hardly even news any more — despite the growth in population in the United States, the number of Christians in America continues to decline. According to the Pew Research Center’s newest report, the United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.
The Pew survey shows dramatic shifts as large numbers of people leave major denominations, including the United Methodist Church.
In a similar study, the General Social Survey (GSS), reports that while about 30 percent of Americans identified themselves as “Protestant” in 1972, that number is only 15 percent today. In other words, based on the GSS, main-line Protestant churches lost half their people over the last 40 years.
The Pew report reveals that, “Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.” This is even more disturbing when you realize that younger Americans are giving up on faith in large numbers. While only 17% of Baby Boomers indicate that they have “no religion,” 36% of Younger Millennials report that they have “no religion” (see accompanying chart).
Many people within the church today see this as a warning that the church will not exist much longer. Indeed, if the church has lost half of its members in 40 years, it cannot survive much longer. But, to me, this is not an issue about keeping the institution alive. It is about loving people.
I’m a Christian because I believe that Jesus makes a powerful difference in my life. I believe that I am a better person by following Jesus. I believe that there is a power available to me through Christ that helps me navigate through the storms of life. I am a better person, a better husband, and a better father because of my commitment to Christ. I believe that there is in store for me an eternity of joy and peace waiting for me beyond the shadows of this life.
Because I believe there is a great benefit to being a follower of Jesus Christ, I want others to experience that same benefit. I believe the most loving thing one person can do for another person is to share Jesus with them.
If you believe that Jesus makes a difference in your life, wouldn’t you want others to know that their life could be better by following Jesus?
The growing number of people who identify as having “no religion” is a concern to me because I believe that life is better with Jesus than without him. It is not about keeping the institution alive. It is about loving those around me.
As followers of Jesus, we have an opportunity to make an eternal difference in the lives of those around us. Be the neighbor. Share the love of Jesus.
– – Jay