Reality Check

Christine Wicker got some prime space on the Dallas Morning News Opinion page today. She’s a writer, and her new book, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church, gets a plug.

And, I have to say, I’m not necessarily surprised having worked with the younger generations of the church for 20 years (yep, 20 years of full time ministry was completed last Thursday…and I have to say, that’s pretty cool to say out loud). But there is lots of data thrown out that should have us all perking our evangelical ears up. Like…

…Southern Baptist teenagers leave the church after graduation from high school at a rate of 88%. Other evangelical denominations around 94%.

…From sexual behavior to abortion to divorce to drug use, the behavior of self-identified evangelicals is almost identical to the rest of the country.

…25% of Americans say they are evangelicals, but only 7% are in church on any given Sunday.

…7% believe the most central tenets of so-called Bible-based belief.

Some quotes:

As the true picture of evangelicals’ problems has developed, panicked leaders are splitting into camps. Some say that the church is lax, soft, sold out.

A growing number of dedicated Southern Baptists believe the Bible’s truth is a Calvinist one…Kick out the unregenerates, they say. That will fix the problem.

Still others say the problem is image. Evangelicals have been seen as mean-spirited and narrow. Caring about the environment and giving more attention to the poor and needy will turn it around. Get out of politics, they say. Play down abortion and gay rights. That will fix the problem.

And…the topper:

Evangelical faith is failing in so many other ways that a growing number of Christians believe a New Reformation is needed. If they are correct, the Southern Baptist Convention is unlikely to lead that reformation. Let’s hope it is at least around to participate.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not much to go all Chicken Little over these numbers and statements. But, I believe they’re accurate. And I will spend a little time talking about this next week and give you my thoughts.

However, I don’t want to influence what you have to say about it, patrons. So, I’ll give the leisurely Sunday crowd a chance, and let all the Monday morning folks weigh in before I get after it, but this should get you all revved up over your coffee!