In theory - Jon T. Karn

CNN recently reported that America is a “less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago.” There has also been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation at all, according to the report. What do you believe is the reason or reasons some people are stepping away from the church? And what can do to encourage those people to come back?

Observant pastors did not need the CNN report to alert them to the religious decline in America. Some of us have been fighting it every step of the way. When the builder generation passes away, church life in America will be drastically different — less faithful, less attended, less funded. But then, as the boomers continue to age and slip away, America will be as devout as secular Europe. I’d like to be optimistic, but the truth is, if current trends continue, America’s religious future is bleak. The church culture is dying in America, not the church (it will never die) but the church culture in America is dying. There are reasons for this:

1) An increasing amount of Americans see no link between spirituality and organized religion, a God-centered community seeking to learn spirituality together.

2) Godliness is giving way to worldliness as power, money and immorality become the new gods of American culture. Secular fundamentalists bully us incessantly, promoting godless values.

3) Too many Christians have bought the lie that “faith is a personal thing.” The religious distinctives of our country’s founding have been forgotten. Jesus has been largely removed from the public square. In an effort to get along, too many Christians keep Jesus a secret, forgetting that the gospel was meant for proclamation to the whole world.

4) Jesus said this would happen. In Matthew we read: “…Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”.

But all is not lost. I love America and I’m old-fashioned enough to think that Jesus does too. He can revive us again. In a world looking for answers, there remains no substitute for a life radically transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. This is the answer — authentic Christianity regularly displayed before an arrogant, unbelieving world. It is my prayer that a holy virus sweeps across America again. It’s happened before. Why not again?

JON T. KARN is pastor of Light on the Corner Church in Montrose. Reach him at (818) 249-4806.

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