Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Have you seen "Battle at Kruger"? If not, take a moment to watch the YouTube video—you'll be one of 75 million who have seen the astonishing footage. In it, a pack of lions attacks a Cape buffalo calf, dragging it to the water. Two crocodiles then attack the calf as well, pulling it further into the water. The lions eventually pull the calf from the crocodiles and continue attacking it. Just then, the Cape buffalo herd returns. Together they do what none could do alone—they chase off the lions and rescue their calf.
Scripture pictures Satan as "a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). When I watched the video, it seemed to me that the church is the calf. Here's why.
Over the holidays, I read John Dickerson's The Great Evangelical Recession and agree with Cal Thomas: it is "an important book that every believer should not only read but heed." Gabe Lyons calls it "a must read for any Christian hoping to see their faith regain traction in a changing world." I've written a longer response to Dickerson's work which you can read here, and want to consider some of its findings with you in today's Cultural Commentary.
Dickerson focuses on evangelicals, a group defined as those who consider the Bible to be God's authoritative word and believe Jesus is the only way to the Father. According to his research, we comprise only seven to nine percent of the American population. If current trends continue, we will drop to four percent, one out of every 25 Americans, within the next 30 years. Three-fourths of church growth is made up of transfers from other churches; total attendance at all evangelical churches is declining in nearly every state.
Making matters worse, we are losing young members in record numbers. Two in three evangelical 20-year-olds abandon the faith by age 30; two-thirds never return to the church. Among Millennials (18-to-29-year-olds), there are four to six times as many secularists (atheists, agnostics, and other non-religious people) as evangelicals.
Meanwhile, our oldest members are dying at the rate of a thousand a day. This generation contributes 46 percent of the financial support to churches and ministries. In the next 10 years we will see contributions decline by half, and by 70 percent over the next 30 years.
As our spiritual enemy attacks the body of Christ, what can you do? Resist self-sufficiency by turning to Jesus, knowing that you are in his hand and nothing can come to you without going through him (John 10:29). Love him personally and passionately (Matthew 22:37). Ask his Spirit to empower and direct your life each morning and through each day (Ephesians 5:18).
And practice the presence of Jesus with his family. We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), a vine with many branches (John 15). A coal by itself goes out—together with the other coals, it stays ablaze.
I invite you to read my thoughts on The Great Evangelical Recession for more on this vital subject. And remember, wherever your enemy is tempting and attacking you: "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Why do you need this assurance today?
Publication date: January 6, 2015
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