America still has the biggest concentration of Christians in the world. But that doesn’t mean our majority standing is safe. Americans identifying with Christianity has been decreasing for the past 7 years.
A Pew Research study shows just that. According to the study, from 2007 to 2014, Christians have declined from 78% to 70%. Obviously, our majority standing isn’t set in stone.
But I’m not here to talk about percentages. I’m here to bring up the issue of competition.
Competition? Yes. The competition of ideas.
Here in America, we have a powerful social force that is the marketplace of ideas. But more often than not, Christians forget this force exists. We take our majority standing for granted. We assume the value of what we’re selling is enough to win people over.
Well, we’re wrong. We’re forgetting this is a competitive market.
We’re Competing Against other Worldviews
You’ve got atheism. You’ve got Islam. You’ve got Buddhism. You’ve got that broad semi-spiritual movement (no idea what it’s called). There’s dozens upon dozens of worldviews that Christianity is competing with. And this competition isn’t bad. It’s great!
Why you ask? Well, it helps us not become complacent in our majority. Complacency kills. Complacency causes the Church to fall into a slumber. It blinds us. Thanks to growing globalism, easy access to the internet, and the treasure trove that is the internet, competition has become more intense.
If we, the Church, fail to realize this we’ll fail at our mission to spread the gospel.
Our Majority Standing isn’t a Right, it’s Earned
“America is a Christian nation!”
I’ve come to look down on that statement. It’s a sign of our complacency. America’s roots were Christian (for the most part), so obviously those roots will continue to exist. This is the error in what we deem as “reality.”
Sorry to break it to you, but America is not a Christian nation. America is a nation influenced by Christianity. But it’s not some divine Christian sanctuary. Thinking otherwise is to deceive ourselves into complacency.
The religious makeup of this nation should have no influence over our mission. Our mission is to spread the gospel, not setup a Christian kingdom. God’s kingdom transcends the flesh. Plus, it’s not our kingdom to shape or define.
We have no right to America. America is a nation in which you and I live in. It’s a nation that deserves our evangelism efforts. This majority status is one that’s earned through winning hearts and minds for Christ. But even then, who cares about majorities? As long as we’re spreading the gospel we should be content.
We’ve Failed To Compete
This mindset. This contentment has hurt our evangelism efforts.
We’re content with spouting the whole “America is a Christian nation” rhetoric. Failing to realize that no government represents Christ’s love. Christians are his representation. Or, at least we’re supposed to be. The Church is the representation of Christianity on earth. It’s also the center of all evangelism, a task that is commonly shipped overseas.
It feels like we’ve become content with the level of Christians in America, so we move into other nations – oddly forgetting that the Church is a local voice for Christ. I’m not saying we’ve failed completely, but it is worrisome that this notion of America as a Christian nation has fueled a content approach to evangelism. Our neighbors and communities are where the competition is most apparent. But again, easily forgotten.
Conclusion: What Does a Christian Competing in the Marketplace of Ideas Look Like?
I would argue it’s not judgmental, aggressive, or pushy. As a Christian, I shy away from other Christians – especially pastors and teachers who act aggressively. Such “fire and brimstone” tactics are no longer effective (were they ever?). Please don’t avoid the issue of hell and what happens to sinners, but the message of Christ is not one of death.
It’s one of hope, love, and resurrection.
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44–50)
It seems like many Christians have forgotten how to judge and how to reach out to the sinner.
We tend to judge like everyone is a Pharisee selling goods in the Temple (John 2:13–22), when in fact, we should be evangelizing like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman (John 4:16–25).
We can recognize their sin nature, but remember that love is the only thing that will reach them. The love of Christ, that is.
We’re competing in a marketplace of ideas. We’re competing for the souls of America. I think it’s time we get back to the basics of Christian evangelism – Christ’s love and mercy.