Trends (and Predictions) for American Churches

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I recently came across a list of eight trends in American churches for the upcoming year. This list was put together by Thom S. Rainer, the CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. Part of what Lifeway does is to provide research regarding churches, pastors, and other religious topics.

The Church

Rainer believes that “church security” will become “the fastest growing ministry.” Sadly, this is probably already a major trend. Due to the sinful nature of fallen man, security is needed more than ever in our churches because of previous incidents and an increasing animosity towards the church (and a growing general lawlessness within the culture). As our society turns farther away from the morality grounded in God’s Word, security, even in churches, will become more important. Indeed, Christians are being increasingly looked on as the enemy in the Western world.

Rainer also notes that the need for “training in classical disciplines and doctrine” remains among pastors and other church leaders. Unfortunately, many pastors are weak on their knowledge of Scripture and important classical doctrines. And if they are weak in these areas then their congregations probably are, too. We hope the next year will see a revival of the teaching of solid, Bible-based doctrine. Likely, as more churches compromise with the world, churches that are dedicated to God’s Word will recognize the importance of teaching solid doctrine in the church so their parishioners can know what they believe and why they believe it. It’s also vital that churches teach people how to defend the Christian faith.

Rainer’s final prediction is that in 2016 we’d see “fewer segregated churches.” I certainly hope this is the case. As the coauthor of One Race One Blood, I know the Bible is clear that every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that we’re all descended from Adam and Eve and are therefore “one blood” (Acts 17:26). In a biblical view, there is no basis for racist attitudes or segregation.

Well, I thought I’d also put together a list of the top five trends I personally see growing over the next year here in America.

  1. More watering down of the Word to accommodate our culture’s lies. We’re consistently seeing more and more churches compromising on God’s Word in order to preach what is perceived by our culture as a loving and tolerant message (e.g., supporting gay “marriage”). But it’s really a message that’s loving and tolerant of sin but contrary to the Word of God, which should be our standard for morality (2 Timothy 3:16). Over the next year and beyond, I anticipate we will see more of 2 Timothy 4:3–4 coming true as many churches become places to satisfy “itching ears” rather than places to satisfy a thirst for truth.
  2. Similarly, we may see increasing pressure on the church to conform to the culture’s thinking on marriage, gender, and sexuality. We’re already seeing Christian individuals, organizations, and churches being punished by the government and mocked by the culture for standing on God’s Word and refusing to compromise. The punishments will only get more frequent and more severe as time goes on. The issues of marriage, gender, and sexuality will continue to be a battleground, and the church must know what God’s Word teaches and stand by it regardless of the civil consequences.
  3. Increasing pressure on the church in regards to the sanctity of life. Just like with marriage, gender, and sexuality, the church is being penalized for having a high view of the sanctity of life. We’ve seen increasing measures to force Christians and Christian organizations to violate their consciences and pay for abortions and abortifacient birth control through their health care plans. As the value put on human life continues to decline here in America, attempts to force those who value human life to violate their beliefs and consciences will only continue.
  4. Even larger numbers of young people leaving the church as they embrace the culture and reject God’s Word. Sadly, by college age, two-thirds of young people are leaving our churches and often the Christian faith. Much of this trend has to do with the fact that these young adults think more like the culture than like God’s Word, and they’ve never been taught to stand on the Bible or to defend their faith. As theologically liberal teaching continues to infiltrate the church, the numbers of young people leaving will likely only increase.
  5. Increasing number of liberal pastors. In my coauthored book Already Compromised, we highlighted how many of the Christian colleges across this nation have compromised on God’s Word. Instead of building up young people and encouraging them to start their thinking with God’s infallible Word, these colleges exalt man’s ideas over the Bible. The result is liberal theology that honors man over God. Sadly, this trend in Christian colleges appears to be continuing, and the result will be more liberal teaching from the pulpit as pastors are trained to think this way.

The trends we see in American churches shouldn’t discourage us, however. They should ignite a fire inside every Christian to be even bolder on standing on the authority of the Word of God. Parents, I encourage you to be intentional about teaching your kids to think with a biblical worldview. And pray for the upcoming generation. Pray that God will raise up godly men and women who will stand for His Word and truth in a culture that has rejected it.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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