Tag: church

The World’s View of Christianity

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…. but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19).

A 2008 poll* of unchurched in America revealed that

  • 72% thought the Christian church was full of hypocrites
  • 79% thought Christianity is more about organized religion than loving God and loving people
  • 86% believed they could have a good relationship with God outside of the church
  • 44% said Christians “get on their nerves”

The only encouraging finding was that 78% said they were willing to listen to some one about their Christian beliefs.

I can’t imagine this has gotten better in the intervening years. In the spring of 2014, there was an American Bible Society study conducted by the Barna group conducted on peoples’ (churched and unchurched) views about the Bible as God’s word**. The ABS had conducted a similar study in 2011.

  • “Engaged” Bible readers (those who read it almost daily and see it as sacred) are now matched by skeptics who just see it as a book of stories and advice with both groups at 19%. In 2011, the engaged were 19% but the skeptics were 9% – an increase of 10% in 3 years.
  • “Bible friendly” people (those who read it occasionally and see it as God inspired) went from 45% in 2011 to 37% in 2014.
  • In 2011, 86% viewed the Bible as sacred compared to 79% in 2014.

The percentages get even worse when you look at the 18-29 age category indicating that percentages on the positive side were among older adults.

In 2012, other statistics and surveys were addressed in an article on the decline of Christianity in America***. The author quotes from a book written by David Kinnaman, the president of the Barna group. Kinnaman states that the 18-29 age group (frequently referred to as millenials) have fallen down a “‘black hole’ of church attendance” with a 43% drop in church attendance.

Michael Snyder, the author of the article, says,

But it is not just young adults that are rejecting the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Even large numbers of “evangelical Christians” are rejecting the fundamental principles of the Christian faith. For example, one survey found that 52 percent of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. Another survey found that 29 percent of all American Christians claim to have been in contact with the dead, 23 percent believe in astrology and 22 percent believe in reincarnation. Without a doubt, the religious landscape of America is changing.

These surveys were conducted among Americans. Since I travel internationally, I also know that the general perception among unbelievers of Christians is mostly a negative one.

I believe the findings of these surveys are valid. I have experienced this attitude – in America and abroad.

I have encountered people who think that Christians are comprised of a bunch of negative people – those that “don’t drink, don’t smoke and don’t go with girls who do”. They believe that church is going to be loaded with people who are going to judge their appearance, their speech and ask for their money. Who would ever want to be a part of a group like that?

That’s exactly what the Pharisees in Jesus’ day did. They were so full of rules and regulations that they couldn’t recognize Love and Freedom when He stared them in the face.

What is clear is that Christians (or those claiming to be Christian) can get in the way of people seeing Christ for who He is. It is easy to have the wrong perspective if your focus is on a faulty church and non-committed Christians.

The apostle Paul addressed this issue in the Corinthian church. The contentions in the church were damaging their Christian testimony. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment… For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe… but we preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:10, 18, 21, 23).

We must introduce people to Christ Himself. God asked His children to represent Christ, but we are obviously not doing a good job. The old saying, “You are the only Bible some people are ever going to read” should make each Christian stop short before speaking or acting.

The trend toward antagonism toward Christians, the church and the Bible is depressing, but what people believe about Christ is a matter of life and death. Even with a general negative perception about Christianity, the fact that most people are willing to hear what someone else has to say about their Christian beliefs is promising. It gives room for a personal Christian testimony. It provides an opportunity for someone to talk about Christ and the difference between a personal relationship with Him and the perceived “Christian religion.”

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1 Peter 4:16).

* http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-do-unchurched-americans-view-christianity-30793/

** http://www.religionnews.com/2014/04/09/bible-study-people-say-good-book-isnt-god-book/

*** http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/how-will-the-shocking-decline-of-christianity-in-america-affect-the-future-of-this-nation

© Stephanie B. Blake

September 2014

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The Christian Day of Worship

No matter where I am on a given Sunday, I go to church. As I do, I am struck with the reminder that we are joining other Christians around the world. We are all part of one family. That family has a special bond on Sunday. Our spirits join together in praise to God.

Since my husband and I travel internationally, I might worship in America one Sunday, Cuba the next, France the next or Poland, Germany, Africa or Austria after that. Wherever we go, I have a sense of belonging. Even when I can’t speak the language or totally understand the sermon, I feel the Spirit.

If you have ever traveled internationally, you know there are differences in the way countries mark their dates and times. If you observe local calendars or need to date a local document, you must check to see what standard is used. The International Organization for Standardization would use 2011-08-01 for the first day of August 2011. Europeans would write 01-08-2011 while 08-01-2011 is the American usage.

There are many other differences in noting time. While many countries use a 24 hour clock, several use a 12 hour clock. Among the countries that use a 12 hour clock, the military, aviation and some other industries in those same countries use a 24 hour clock to avoid confusion.

Many European countries do not count Sunday as the first day of the week. They follow ISO 8601, set in 1988 by the International Organization for Standardization, which marks Monday as the first day of the week.

Most Christians observe the day of worship on Sunday and regard it as the first day of the week. They will often tell you if they are unable to worship on Sunday, their week does not start off right. We should worship Jesus all during the week but there is something about corporate worship that energizes the soul.

No matter how one tells time or marks their calendar, across the time zones of the world, there are gatherings to worship God and thank Him for the wonderful gift of HIs salvation. His Spirit joins us together. I have been privileged to worship Him with people from many nations. It gives me a little taste of what eternity will be like when every knee will bow before Him.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb (Matthew 28:1).  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week. . . Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul. . . spoke to them and continued his message until midnight (Acts 20:7).