As I sat down to write this article to you, I had just read a very disturbing (though sadly not surprising) report. It was from the group Association for Christian Retail, summarizing research by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The report stated:
As many as 200,000 churches of approximately 350,000 in the U.S. are in stagnation or decline and more than 4,000 close every year . . . . [W]hile 40% of Americans say they attend church weekly, only 20% do, based on actual attendance. Only some small churches (with less than 200 attendance) and some mega churches report growth.
The article continued:
Churches in the middle are either stagnant or declining, research shows. Most mega church growth is from absorbing attendance of closed churches. It’s not caused by growth of the Christian faith.
Now at AiG, we have been sounding the “alarm bells” for years now in regard to sad trends in the church. Back in 2009, we published the book Already Gone, detailing a survey we commissioned from America’s Research Group (ARG) into why two-thirds of young people are leaving the church by college age.
In essence, what ARG and AiG found is that the undermining of the authority of God’s Word beginning in Genesis (including through rampant compromise with evolution/millions of years) has greatly contributed to generations of young people in the church doubting God’s Word—and then who walk away in unbelief.
The Mission of Answers in Genesis
Let me remind you of the mission statement of Answers in Genesis:
To support the church in fulfilling its commission
Answers in Genesis is a catalyst to bring reformation by reclaiming the foundations of our faith which are found in the Bible, from the very first verse.
- We proclaim the absolute truth and authority of the Bible with boldness.
- We relate the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world today with creativity.
- We obey God’s call to deliver the message of the gospel, individually and collectively.
- We resourcefully equip believers to defend their faith with excellence.
- We willingly engage society's challenges with uncompromising integrity.
- We sacrificially serve the AiG family and others.
- We generously give Christian love.
I was reminded of our mission statement when we officially launched the Ark Encounter project May 1. (You can watch a video of the wonderful “Hammer and Peg” ceremony at ArkEncounter.com.) The Ark Encounter’s full-size Noah’s Ark with all of its exhibits is another big step in presenting the gospel message to the culture, and to help bring reformation to the church that is so needed.
In my next Answers Update for June, I stated the following about the “Hammer and Peg” ceremony as we officially launched the Ark Encounter project:
Fifty-five years after the book The Genesis Flood (that really started the modern biblical creation movement) was published, a life-size Noah’s Ark is scheduled to open (projected summer 2016) . . . . In a very real way, the publication of The Genesis Flood laid the foundation for a new reformation—to call church (and culture) back to the authority of the Word of God . . . .
To me, when the AiG staff, board, and local officials used wooden mallets to hammer wooden pegs into big wooden beams (that were cut from the very property the life-size Noah’s Ark is to be built upon)—it reminded me of when Martin Luther nailed his theses onto the wooden door of that church in Germany, starting the Reformation.
I personally believe, when the wooden pegs were hammered into the beams on May 1, this was all part of continuing the reformation that Luther launched in 1517. A Reformation that is so needed today, as so much of the church has compromised God’s Word in Genesis—undermining the authority of His Word.
As a result of this loss of biblical authority, generations have been leaving the church—and the church in our Western world is no longer affecting the culture as it once did, because the culture has infected the church.
If you were to ask me to sum up the ministry of Answers in Genesis (and all of its outreaches, including the Creation Museum and coming Ark Encounter) in just five words, I would say it this way: Biblical authority and the gospel.
We are an evangelistic, biblical authority ministry, teaching people to understand the times we live in, so we can equip Christians to defend the Christian faith against secular attacks of our day—and to challenge non-Christians concerning the truth of God’s Word and its saving gospel message.
Some Enormous Challenges
At the beginning of July, AiG begins its new fiscal year. As we reflect on the current fiscal year we have seen that the culture and church are facing some enormous challenges. There is an increasing:
- acceptance of homosexual behavior and “gay marriage” in the culture
- push to allow “gay marriage” in the church
- a polarization of biblical Christians in the culture
- an intolerance of Christian morality in the culture
- removal of biblical authority from the church (e.g., denial of a literal Hell; acceptance of evolution and millions of years; denial of a literal Adam and Eve; shallow presentations of the gospel, etc.)
- exodus of young people from the church
- secular worldview being witnessed among the current generation inside the church
The list could be much longer. We can all see these shifts happening. We know they are happening. And when you think about it, when generations of young people are brought up in a church that tells them they can reinterpret Genesis in order to fit in evolution and/or millions of years—then should we be surprised when they use man’s ideas outside of Scripture to reinterpret marriage and defend abortion?
The massive challenges in the culture and the church are why I believe God has raised up ministries like Answers in Genesis.
The massive challenges in the culture and the church are why I believe God has raised up ministries like Answers in Genesis—to stand uncompromisingly and boldly on the authority of the Word and challenge Christians to take a stand. We are equipping Christians to defend the Christian faith against the onslaughts of secular attacks in our day that are aimed at undermining the authority of the Word, from which we get the gospel.
And as you can imagine (and many of you have witnessed), when we take such a stand, we are attacked from the culture (and from within the church)!
As we soon begin our new fiscal year, we are more emboldened than ever to help bring reformation to the church and to challenge the culture concerning the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. I urge you to pray for us—and to support us in any way you can so that together we can carry out the enormous task the Lord has laid on our hearts to proclaim the vital creation/gospel message for these challenging days.
Yes, it’s sad that a ministry like AiG is even needed to help bring reformation to the church! But the reality is that much of the church needs reformation so that it will return to the authority of the Word of God.