A Word from Steve Jones: One Serious Researcher Thinks Christianity Is Dying in Canada and the United States!
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… I was sitting in the Moncton International Airport, NB waiting for my flight home while talking to my wife on the phone when to my surprise, Dr. Ed Stetzer walked past me to get on the same flight.
I blundered out something like, “Yo, Bro!”, and he turned around with “Yo, Yo, Yo!” I apologized to my wife, and said good-bye to her. Ed had been our key-note speaker at our recent Fellowship National Conference and was a blessing to our delegates.
We sat down and talked about the Fellowship and evangelism in Canada. Ed had just visited our French seminary SEMBEQ, earlier that week in Montreal. Ed is a numbers guy. so we also talked statistics. He’s doing a major survey/study on faith trends and the Church in Canada, which he plans to present at the “Momentum” Church Planting Conference on October 27-29, 2015 in Montreal.
I had just listened — a month earlier — to Dr. Reg Bibby at the North American Baptist Fellowship Conference. Reg has studied faith and Church trends in Canada for close to 40 years. He’s Canada’s resident-expert on the subject. In 1993, Bibby wrote a book full of stats and projections that spelled out the dreary decline of Canadian churches by 2015.
In April of 2015, he concluded a sizeable survey to discover if his predictions of 20 years ago came true. You can read the results in an April “McClean’s” magazine entitled “Jesus Saves: Seriously”. Briefly, Bibby discovered the evangelical church is doing okay. It’s even growing; mostly due to immigration. The Roman Catholic Church has remained the same at about 40% of Canada’s population. However, mainline Protestantism is in free fall. The mainline Protestant Church significantly lowers the stats and leading to the media claims that Christianity is on the way out. That is a lie. The stats prove otherwise. Math, numbers – do not lie.
In fact, Bibby showed a chart for Canadian evangelical affiliation since 1871. For 130 years, evangelicals have represented approximately 8% of Canadians. However, in recent years, it has increased to 11%. Bibby is not sure why. He’s studying the reasons for this as we speak.
So you can sense my surprise when I heard Ed Stetzer say that no serious researcher in the US would say that evangelical Christianity is dying. Because it is not.
Since my chat with Ed, I read a May 12 2015 blog that Stetzer wrote entitled “Nominals to Nones: 3 Key Takeaways from Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey” (click > HERE < to read).
Pew is the respected religious trend research group. Analysis of their recent major study is that the nominal are becoming the nones (no religious preference), and the convictional are remaining committed. As Stetzer writes: “Americans whose Christianity was nominal – in name only – are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publically with what they’ve actually not believed all along”.
Committed evangelical Christians in the States, like in Canada, have remained rather steady. In fact, between 2001 and 2014, evangelicals in the States rose from 59.8 million to 62.2 million. Evangelicals now make up a clear majority (55%) of American Protestants. This is up from 44% in 2007. Millennials stayed the same at 21% over the same seven years. Every generation remained the same except the Greatest Generation. The reason why there appears to be a decline in Christianity in the USA is that nominal protestants are now checking off “none” or “no” religious preference. As in Canada, mainline churches are in free fall. Math does not lie.
So it’s not all doom and gloom out there, although evangelicalism is still losing ground on the percentage of population, and it’s still tough to reach Canadians for Christ – no doubt! But the stats are not as bad as you may have thought or believed.
The reality is the Church in North America is becoming more evangelical by percentage. Christianity is less nominal as the mainline churches decline. The Church is becoming more defined or refined as it steps away more and more from the culture.
None of this means there is no apathy or nationalism in the evangelical church. There is. We all see it. And removing ourselves from the culture creates a problem, but the promise remains that the church will prevail!
One last tidbit:
· In Canada, Baptists make up 2% of the population, and are the seventh largest religious group
· In the USA, Baptists make up 17% of the population and are the third largest religious group
Just because I thought you wanted to know J.
Have a blessed week,
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