American Christianity and the Approaching Cultural Storm

on March 7, 2018

Nominal Christianity is collapsing in America and elsewhere as hostility to the faith increases in Western society, but that does not mean the American Church is dying. In fact, the percentage of regular church attendees has stayed the same since 1938. While there is a cultural storm brewing, it might not be what you think.

This point was well made by Ed Stetzer, researcher and executive director of the Billy Graham Center, on February 28 during a session entitled, “The Approaching Cultural Storm,” as part of the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Citing Gallup studies since 1938, Stetzer said many are surprised to learn American Christianity, namely Evangelicalism, is not on the verge of collapse.

“Mind you, I’m not here to tell you everything is great. I believe we are in the midst of a cultural storm,” Stetzer cautioned, “But we need to rightly identify the storm. And the storm is not a mass abandonment of devout people of their religious faith.”

Evangelicalism is actually growing, explained Stetzer, citing the General Social Study by the University of Chicago (GSS). “Now is [evangelicalism] doing well? No, again I’m not here to celebrate. But what we find is there’s some shifts.”

One example Stetzer offered is that young adults between 18 and 29 years of age are at the highest level of self-reported regular church attendance at evangelical churches, as reported by the GSS study.

For the Mainline Protestant church attendance, however, the numbers of young adult attendance are much worse. “It’s less than one out of every one hundred eighteen to twenty-nine-year-olds you see on the street are regularly attending Mainline churches,” explained Stetzer.

The approaching culture storm then has more to do with an increasing secular worldview among nominal Evangelical Christians rather than dying American Christianity, according to Stetzer who will publish a book on the subject in September.

“The shift that is taking also includes about one percent…of people per year change from being a nominal Christian [to secular people],” said Stetzer. This means “the buffer between us and the rest of culture” is shrinking away.

As the cushion shrinks, the cultural storm grows. Stetzer explained that what this means is once the cushion between nominal Christianity and secular people is removed, traditional Christian beliefs “will seem increasingly strange to the rest of the world.” At that point, Christians will be in the eye of the storm.

  1. Comment by John Kenyon on March 7, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    The eye of the storm, where it is peaceful and quiet?

  2. Comment by Dan on March 8, 2018 at 11:57 am

    This explains part of the problem –

  3. Comment by Will on March 9, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    The youth go for Christian rock concerts in churches but will that hold them?

  4. Comment by John Schuh on March 10, 2018 at 12:40 am

    In the path of the storm?”

  5. Comment by Ted R. Weiland on March 10, 2018 at 9:55 am

    American Christianity’s devolution is merely a continuation of what finds its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    What was Christendom (Christians dominionizing society) in 17th-century Colonial America has tragically devolved into culturally impotent 4-walled Christianity, aka Christendumb.

    The bulk of today’s Christians are best depicted by Christi in Matthew 5:13 as salt that’s lost its savor, good for nothing but to be trampled under the foot of man. This officially began in 1787 when the late 18th-century Christians allowed a cadre of Enlightenment and Masonic theistic rationalists to replace the 17th-century Colonial governments of, by, and for God for their own humanistic government of, by, and for the people, all but relegating Christians to their stain-glassed buildings.

    For more, see blog article “Self-Imposed Impotence” at

    The “10 Reasons the Kingdom Here on Earth Isn’t Mission Impossible.”

  6. Comment by Chris on March 12, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Are these so called “Nominal Christians” and “Evangelical Christians” really followers of Christ ?

    Do they stand up for and promote Christ, His Kingdom/Will on earth ?

    Or should they be better described as this: ” … but if the salt become tasteless, how will it be made salty again ? It is GOOD FOR NOTHING ANYMORE, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5: 13) ????

    Both have become tasteless salt.

    Is it not the “Fundamentalist Christians”, “New Testament Only Christians”, “Evangelical”, etc., that teach the lie that God’ Laws, Statutes and Judgments have been done away with, “contrary to us”, etc., etc. (when Christ Himself said the exact opposite: Matthew 5: 17-19), the ones that have lost their saltiness ??

    “Unless they speak to the Law and the testimonies, there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8: 20.

    This nation has become “twice the sons of hell” as those who have proselytized it.

    We allowed the process to begin when we decided “We The People” should be god (sovereign) and decide what is to be the supreme law of the land.

    The legislative process provided by the various federal and state constitutions was the vehicle used by the enemy to corrupt over time (via gradual increments) and finally take over. Now, the state is the god of most, knowingly or unknowingly, and the “god” the state is controlled by His and our enemies.

    This nation wanted to determine what was “good and evil” (remember the garden?), instead of enforcing His Perfect Moral Laws.

    Malim in se (evil in and of itself as defined by The Great I Am, the ONLY lawgiver) vs. malim prohibitum (evil because someone determines, or legislates, it to be evil).

    The only way to save this nation is to turn back to Him, His Perfect Moral Laws, Statutes and Judgments, i.e., His Kingdom/Will On Earth. Seek Him while He may yet be found.

    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, And I will give you rest. Take My yoke (i.e., His Law 1 John 5: 2 & 3, as well as His tithe [tax] system) upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and ‘YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.’ (Jer. 6: 16). My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Matthew 11: 28 – 30.

    He told us that if His people ” … shall humble themselves (e.g., quit thinking we’re the sovereign, take our proper place and quit usurping His), and pray, and seek my face (e.g., He’s to be the ONLY law giver), and turn from their wicked ways (e.g., enforce His Laws, Statutes and Judgments); THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

  7. Comment by Look4truth on March 13, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Interesting responses, but I fear they miss the point of the article. While Christ’s message has always been counter-cultural, in this country especially, we have been living under the illusion that Christians has been a majority and form the mores of our culture. And in fact, for at least the last several decades many have worked to adjust the Christian world view to what the culture around us is demanding.
    As we begin to realize that we ae a minority we will hopefully lose our arrogance, stop demanding our way and instead share in humility, peace and love the “good news” that God loves us and is calling those who will listen back to Him. And as in Roman times, we will likely be ridiculed, and persecuted, as some strange sect, but our message can become real again.

  8. Comment by Jane Bonner on March 13, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Devout Christians are not in the midst of the storm. They are the storm. That is why people resist their message. Christ does not compromise and those who have picked up their crosses to follow Him have already given up the world and therefore threaten its illusion of power.

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