In the parable of the sower, Jesus illustrated how the seed of God’s Word flourishes or perishes depending on the kind of ground it falls on. Some seeds fell on a path, and birds ate them. Some fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings. “Other seeds,” said Jesus, “fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.”
That rocky soil group aptly describes the rapid rise and decline of evangelicals in America in recent decades. Recently, political scientist Ryan Burge, co-author of The Great Dechurching, explained how, between 1983 and 1993, the share of Americans who identified as evangelicals exploded. In fact, at their height in the early ’90s, nearly a third of Americans called themselves evangelical.