For the last several years, those of us who practice the fine art of “God watching” have seen it coming: the rise of secularization, the challenge to the church, and the act of God, finally getting our attention. The perfect storm for what God movement watchers call an awaking in the church…a wakeup call. At the grass roots level, we’ve seen it among the hundreds of church leaders we interview each year. In the last seven years, the incidence of what we call “holy discontent” or “spiritual restlessness” is definitely on the rise.
U.S. Christians, who in previous generations identified as Christ-followers at a rate of 91% are now registering at the 77% level. Pew research has identified, in research from last year, that young adults who respond to the religious affiliation question are on the rise in the “none” category—now one in five (20%). Yet, if the turn around occurs here like it has inEngland, much of the spiritual zeal will come from young adults.
Meacham, in this Time article is right: much of the renewed commitment is tied to a healthy return to the mission of the church, to go, make disciples. But Meacham is too “old school” in his strategic thinking. It isn’t going to be centered around preachers and emphasis on the organizational side of the church. It will be a reigniting of Christianity as a movement and a recapturing of the spiritual culture of the New Testament church.
The overhaul to new life in Christian churches is not easy or pretty. Cultural transformation is messy, takes time, and raises resistance to those who are more stuck in religious ruts than dedicated to spiritual renewal. They are tied to forms and weak on substance. But it can, by God’s grace, happen and it appears to have already started.
The biblical approach to Christianity will always work. It always has. This is an age of spiritual entrepreneurs with the guts to restore the church that makes a difference.
Are you one?