Monday, April 5, 2010

Changing Times in Evangelical World

Huge changes in the evangelical world are shaking that world to its foundations.

For some 40 years, mainline churches have looked with grudging envy at the megachurches and evangelical growth. It became a truism in the church - mainliners are in decline and evangelical churches are growing.

Statistics now prove otherwise. American Christians have always been highly mobile, and the "growth" of the evangelical churches represented more a shift in population than actual conversions, though they reached a younger generation missed by the mainline groups. But many of them and their children are having second thoughts and casting an eye outward.

It seems that the vaunted power of the evangelical movement is grinding to a halt, as do all movements.

Which is to say, mainliners are being given a fresh opportunity. We can't set back, but we can sit up, and pay attention. We have gifts for the world, and God's Holy Spirit, never content to rest anywhere, may be moving people in some new directions - and it may mean new life for the older denominations.

I saw some of that Easter Sunday as I watched the children and youth process with the lilies, to build the lily cross that graces the pulpit on Easter Sunday.

Something like this wouldn't pass muster for the megachurch and its high-end productions ... but it's precisely what makes Christianity so vital - thousands of smaller congregations faithful to Christ, knowing one another and working together. It's not about polish, we're finding, but purpose. Smaller, more intimate congregations may offer exactly what Americans need these days - closeness and purpose, and something a bit more relaxed. Folks get to know the pastor, and the pastor gets to know them.

There will always be large congregations, but the world is shifting ... again. Churches faithful to Christ and loving of people, with wide open doors and wide open hearts, will find the Spirit of God paying them a visit regularly!

To check out what an evangelical has recently written about all of this, click HERE to read.