If you’re on social media for any length of time, you inevitably come across a Christian marketing expert promising that he can help your church grow by using Facebook ads, websites with “plan your visit” buttons, canned sermon outlines, strategies to make your church lobby attractive, and more.
Alongside of marketing, there are others who promise if you just practice the methods used in other parts of the world then the church in the US will become a movement. Countless people have learned Four Fields, T4T, Discovery Bible Studies, and other methods that apparently God blesses to catalyze more movements around the globe than we have ever witnessed in the history of humanity. Maybe they all work – marketing and ministry strategies – and we’ve missed a remarkable opportunity to take advantage of ideas that ensure growth.
The reality seems to be that our attempts to make disciples is actually reducing the size of Christianity in the United States. In the 1990s, nearly 90 percent of the adult population identified as Christian. Today, in the Pew Research Center’s most recent data, only 65 percent of US adults identify as Christian (Pew Research Center). Some look at the data and see a winnowing of the wheat from the chaff, or separating the sheep from the goats. That could certainly be the case. Others look at it and see an ineffective church that is out of touch with culture. No doubt, there is truth to this. Still, some recognize the secularization of a modern society that no longer needs the spiritual, which is plausible. Some even speculate that perhaps God is done with us and is moving on.
Will our pontificating and theological gymnastics actually move us to think about how we can connect Jesus’s story to the story of our culture?