American churches are stronger than you think
“All Scripture is breathed out by God,” we are told in Timothy 3:16, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction …”
I doubt the same can be said of newspaper columns, but I feel compelled to set the record straight after reading Ross Douthat’s piece in last Sunday’s New York Times, in which he proclaimed that since the 1960s, “conservative Christianity has often been compromised” and “liberal Christianity has simply collapsed.”
Douthat is rightly concerned about the continued theological and numerical decline of mainline churches. That trend is real enough. But like many commentators, Douthat misses the story of hope running through the resurgent parts of American Christianity. Indeed, what we’re witnessing is nothing less than a reshaping of the national religious landscape from mainline dominance to evangelical, independent and charismatic/Pentecostal churches, the group that my colleagues and I have the privilege to serve in our ministry at Leadership Network.
While the media have focused on the spectacular retirements and flameouts of a few prominent pastors, what hasn’t been closely examined — in the mainstream press, anyway — is the dramatic rise of megachurches across the country. A decade ago, Matt Chandler arrived as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Highland Village near Flower Mound, Texas. His congregation numbered about 160 people. Now, more than 8,000 flock to weekend services at the church, which has been re-christened The Village.Continue reading at newsok.com