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fire-298105_640Have you noticed how the U.S.—and our world—is struggling with issues that abound with spiritual convictions?

  • Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk, who went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Pope Francis, technically a “political figure” representing the Vatican, was invited to address a joint session of Congress. As he did, some were no doubt scratching their heads about the so-called “separation of church and state,” twisted from what Thomas Jefferson intended. As the camera drew back from the Pope in the chamber, the words on the wall, above Joe Biden and John Boehner, spoke a message loud and clear: “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
  • Shots rang out in early October from a community college in Oregon. Eyewitnesses reported, the gunman asked: “If any of you are Christians, stand up.” They stood and he killed them, after saying, “You will meet your God in a few seconds.”
  • Shock and horror ran through the citizens of Cleveland as police reported a drive-by shooting that took the life of a baby.
  • The news continues to report the filmed investigations by David Daleiden as he infiltrated Planned Parenthood and captured leaders negotiating for aborted fetal body parts.
  • Reports continue about large numbers of Americans who live in a fog, addicted to prescription pain killers, meth, or heroin.
  • A respected auto manufacturer, Volkswagen, gets caught falsifying emissions testing, lying to millions of customers.
  • ISIS has parts of Europe in lockdown.
  • The Pew Research Foundation reports 22.8 percent of U.S. adults say they have no religious affiliation—up from 16.1 percent in 2007. These so-called “nones” now outnumber Catholics (20.8%) and mainline Protestants (14.7%), highlighting the continuing drop in adults who identify as Christian.
  • Nominal Christians are dropping away. Some churches in the same county are growing, thriving

Reaching Unchurched People Today

For the most part, life is good for many in the U.S. Yet, it seems that, among so many, there is a sense of hopelessness. In fact, researchers have called this “The Era of Pessimism.”

Long before news outlets described this as the most pessimistic time in recent history, those of us at Church Doctor Ministries were conducting research ourselves. We expanded the research to include an easy but profound learning experience for Christians.

We challenged church members to identify those in their social networks who are functionally unchurched.  (They show no interest or involvement in worshipping God.) We directed them: “Ask the person, ‘What do you think it’s going to be like for your grandchildren?’” (For older people, we insert “great-grandchildren.”) It is really a question about hope for the future.

The vast majority of unbelievers say something like “not very good.” Then they begin talking about government gridlock, civil disobedience, national debt, potential future extinction of Social Security, Wall Street corruption, murder in our streets, moral decay…the list goes on. Generally, people feel hopeless.

Hopelessness: Environment for Revival

Whether you choose to call it a “revival” or a “move of God,” it often occurs during massive hopelessness. As Christians, our hope is in Christ. Bring on a recession, death in the family, a life threatening illness: our hope is beyond. Romans 15:13 is from a letter to Christians at the center of a morally decaying empire: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” For those who hope in everything but Christ, hope dissipates in the face of newscasts we see every day.

In this era of pessimism, 1 Peter 3:15-16 speaks loud and clear: “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you…with gentleness and respect…” (TEV).

This is excerpted from the November/December 2015 Church Doctor Report – Is There a Four-Alarm Fire In Your Church?: Reaching Unchurched People Today.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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