My (biased, uneducated, and hasty) perspective on why Christianity is dwindling in the west.
1. Christians are terrible representatives of Christianity. Take myself for example. I have a bad attitude, a foul mouth, and when things don’t go my way, I’m like any 2-year-old throwing a tantrum. I’m also opinionated and bossy, and sometimes I’d rather be right than loving. Okay, I’d always rather be right than loving.
But Christians as a whole are even worse, and most Christians are Circumstantial Christians, which means their personal lives and their faith don’t actually intersect. So an atheist is more likely to live a life of morality than a Circumstantial Christian, because an atheist had to actually think about it.
In other words, it’s hard to put a good spin on Christianity with a world full of “Christians” doing terrible things.
2. The Church hasn’t kept with the paces. They got stuck in the feel-good, gooey alter calls of the 80’s and 90’s and haven’t changed fashion since. They neglected to disciple their followers. They threw tradition out the window and opted for contemporary and easy-going and forgot about substance, sacrifice, and sacredness.
The sacred act of worshiping God can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, possibly a little sobering, or maybe even a little boring. But when the Body of Christ is fed more than just baby food delivered with flashing lights and big happy sounds, the Body receives actual nourishment. It isn’t flabby and weak, like those Christians who have lost their ability to digest anything of substance.
The rest of us are going hungry.
3. Churches failed to recognize a growing demographic within their pews: Single people without children. Churches have a place for babies, children, teenagers, and college kids in between. They have a place for families and married couples, marriage retreats, you name it. But virtually nothing for single men and women. And since being unmarried and childless is becoming almost as commonplace as being married, an entire group of people has been lost to the church.
It’s not all their fault. Some of us single people, facing the pain of being in a place filled with families, husbands, and wives, have quietly slipped away. In a sense, we failed them as much as they failed us.
4. They didn’t tackle the issue of homosexuality the way it should have been tackled. No, I don’t think the church and Christians should open their arms and declare homosexuality a God-ordained practice, as some churches have. Clearly, it’s not. The Bible is explicit about condemning the acts, in the same vein that it condemns other sexually immoral practices–such as incest and bestiality.
However, the church should have had the foresight to welcome sinners, all sinners, including those who struggle with the sin of homosexuality. While the church was focused on making a home for single mothers, divorced couples, alcoholics, and pornography addicts, it forgot to make room for gay people, struggling with a unique set of sins no better or worse than anyone else’s.
5. Last of all, churches have failed to be places where members of a Christian community come to serve others. Instead, churches are places where Christians come to be served. The pastor, youth director, and music leader are all there to serve us, to meet our needs, to keep us happily entertained and comfortable for 60 minutes a week.
This makes being a Christian easy. I don’t have to commit to anything except those 60 minutes. In fact, the Church has made Christianity so easy and so comfortable, it hardly seems worth it.