USA: Church leaders respond to decline in Christianity Accordingto a new Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans believe religion islosing ground in the United States. Likewise, the Barna Research Group,which specialises in researching trends in Christianity, found thathalf of all Americans now believe Christianity is no longer thecountry's default religion.
Several pioneers of the Christian church recently took on this issue aswell as several other subjects in the new leadership series, Conversations with Fathers of the Faith.
The ‘Fathers’ include Winkie Pratney, Henry Blackaby, Lloyd Ogilvie andJack Hayford who voice their opinions on the challenges that facetoday's Church leadership.
"We've lost our way in terms of not knowing what people died forcenturies ago to give us," says Winkie Pratney, author, speaker andyouth leader who has worked with Campus Life, Teen Challenge, OperationMobilisation, among others. "We've lost our moorings because we don'tknow our spiritual heritage. We are fatherless. We have no referencepoint of anybody we can trust."
Conversations with Fathers of the Faith is a 6-12 week course focusingon leadership values, truths and principles. Topics covered include:Spiritual Health, a Leader's Heart, Leadership Challenges, the Church,Discipleship, and Jesus.
Christianity in decline because of political correctness Christianityis in decline in England because politically correct churches are moreinterested in accommodating other people's views than putting forwardtheir own, it is claimed.
A minister from a black majority church in London told members ofthe Church of England's governing body, the General Synod, that manyChristians appear to see community cohesion as more important thatevangelisation.
She warned that Christians must not "walk oneggshells" at a time when followers of other religions are"unrelentingly" spreading their message to the public, and said thateveryone should be seen as a potential convert.
The Rev NezlinSterling, general secretary of the New Testament Assembly who is anecumenical representative of the Synod, made her passionate commentsduring a debate on "the uniqueness of Christ in multi-faith Britain".
Shesaid: "We cannot allow ourselves to be marginalised. This process ofmarginalisation of Christianity seems to be moving at a rapid rate inour country.
"I am of the belief that we in the church are soanxious to be politically correct that we on occasions forget toreflect on whether our actions are Christ-correct.
"We havepositioned ourselves like the disciples did after Christ died, behindclosed doors, paralysed with fear of the world recognising that we areChristians and bearers of the good news of salvation.
"It wouldappear that the church is making a choice between community cohesionand evangelisation, and the former seems to be given priority.
"Whydo we complain about the decline or our membership? What meaningfulmeasures are we taking to correct this negative process?
"Whyshould we as Christians have to walk on eggshells to preserve communitycohesion and accommodate everyone else when the world around us isbecoming more aggressive to Christians, and the mere mention of thewords Jesus Christ is an offence to so many of those whom we areseeking to working relationship with?
"Other faiths are unrelentingly spreading their message and gaining ground that we unwittingly have vacated.
"Thereis no room for complacency, no room to procrastinate or retreat butlike a mighty army of the church we Christians must go forward, spreadthe Gospel and the good news of salvation. Every person in my mind is apotential convert."
The Rev Andrew Dow, a rector in Cheltenham,said Christians were terrified of "the dreaded 'c' word" - conversion -but went on: "We need to recover our nerve. We need to refute the lifethat to be evangelistic is to be a bigot or a fundamental fanatic."
TheRev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a vicar in east London, said Christians shouldconcentrate on their own community rather than trying to convertmembers of other faiths and asked: "How many of your children are stillworshipping?"
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, agreedthat the majority of people in the country who call themselvesChristian but whom "we never see in our churches" should not be ignored.
PaulEddy, a lay member of Synod who proposed the motion, insisted he didnot want to encourage an "aggressive, confrontational mission toconvert anyone" and recognised the talk of the Crusades can create"distress".
But he insisted: "I do have a concern thatevangelism, along with many other Christian distinctives, is greatly indanger of being lost amongst the overall desire for people of allfaiths and of none to work together to build greater communitycoherence.
"What we are witnessing on a monthly, if not weeklybasis here in the UK is a strategic, highly-politicised marginalisationof Christianity in the public arena. We have examples of Christianstudents, magistrates, foster parents, registrars and nurses fallingfoul of such marginalisation."
His motion, which called onbishops to report on their understanding of Christ's uniqueness andreport on good examples of sharing the Gospel, was passedoverwhelmingly with 283 for, 8 against and 10 abstaining.
Christians challenged, African traditions decline The faith of new Christians needs to be deepened as traditionalAfrican religions decline. Young people are victimized by materialism,secularization and relativism. Bishop Esau says there is hunger andthirst for God. The following is a presentation made by Archbishop Esua ofBamenda, Cameroon, during the world Synod of Bishops, held in October2008 at the Vatican under the theme, ‘The Word of God in the Life andMission of the Church.’
The Church in Cameroon, like the other young Churches in Africa has ahigh rate of growth. There is urgent need to deepen the faith of theneophytes, particularly the youth, who are becoming victims ofmaterialism, secularization and relativism. A number of them haverelapsed to the practice of African Traditional Religion becauseChristianity does not seem to answer all their questions especially intimes of crises.
Moreover, the African Traditional Religion and the traditionalfamily structures on which this religion is based are collapsing. SomeChristians are taking refuge in secret societies, sects and newreligious movements, hoping to find in them security and answers to thedeeper questions of life.
Fortunately, there is a growing thirst and hunger for the Word of God.It is necessary and urgent to put the Sacred Scriptures into the handsof the faithful so that they can become life for them in theirprofessions, in their families and various life situations as well asthe source and inspiration of the life and activities of the SmallChristian Communities. There is also the urgency to inculturate theChristian faith and to dialogue with the African Traditional Religion.For an effective inculturation, the Word of God should be deeply rootedin the hearts of the people and become flesh in them. We thereforesuggest that:
1. The Bishops' Conferences and the dioceses give priority to theBiblical Pastoral Ministry and appoint people to promote and coordinateit at various levels in order that the Word of God may be at the basisof all our pastoral activities.
2. Priests, religious and the laity be given appropriate formation tobecome agents of the Biblical Apostolate. A course on the BiblicalPastoral Ministry be introduced in the Seminary curriculum and inFormation Houses to prepare future priests and religious for thisministry.