POST-CHRISTIAN & A working definition by The Barna Group

It may come as no surprise that the influence of Christianity in the United States is waning. Rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have all been dropping for decades. By consequence, the role of religion in public life has been slowly diminishing, and the church no longer functions with the cultural authority it held in times past. These are unique days for the church in America as it learns what it means to flourish in a new “Post-Christian” era.

Barna has developed a metric to measure the changing religious landscape of American culture. We call this the “post-Christian” metric. To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals must meet nine or more of our 16 criteria (listed below), which identify a lack of Christian identity, belief and practice. These factors include whether individuals identify as atheist, have never made a commitment to Jesus, have not attended church in the last year or have not read the Bible in the last week.

These kinds of questions—compared to ticking the “Christian” box in a census—get beyond how people loosely identify themselves (affiliation) and to the core of what people actually believe and how they behave as a result of their belief (practice). These indicators give a much more accurate picture of belief and unbelief in America…

Post-Christian Metrics

To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors . “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

The Most Post-Christian Cities in America: 2017,” The Barna Group, 7/11/17. Read more at … https://www.barna.com/research/post-christian-cities-america-2017/

CHURCH PLANTING & It’s not for the faint-hearted: New England dominates list of post-Christian cities

“New England dominates list of post-Christian cities,” by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 9/21/17.

…Research from Barna ranks 100 American metro areas by the percentage of the population it classifies as “post-Christian.” Boston and New Bedford, Massachusetts, are both in the top five.

To be considered post-Christian by Barna, a person had to meet at least nine qualifications, including things like not believing in God, having not prayed or read the Bible in the last week, and having never made a commitment to Jesus…

Here are the top 10 with the percentage of residents who are classified as post-Christian.

  1. Portland/Auburn, Maine (57%)
  2. Boston, Massachusetts/Manchester, New Hampshire (56%)
  3. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, New York (54%)
  4. Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts (53%)
  5. Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York (53%)
  6. Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (52%)
  7. New York, New York (51%)
  8. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California (50%)
  9. Seattle/Tacoma, Washington (50%)
  10. Buffalo, New York (50%)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the list of post-Christian cities is almost the exact opposite of other Barna lists like most churched cities and most Bible-minded cities.

Seven of the top 10 post-Christian cities are in the bottom 10 of most Bible-minded, while five are part of the 10 most unchurched cities.

Three metro areas—San Francisco, Boston, and Albany, New York—rank in the top 10 of most post-Christian and most unchurched and in the bottom 10 of most Bible-minded.

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2017/09/20/new-england-dominates-list-post-christian-cities/

AETE & @FullerSeminary’s Amos Yong addresses annual meeting on Apostolic Evangelism in the Postcolony: Opportunities & Challenges

Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, annual meeting, June 2016, University of Northwestern, St. Paul, MN.  Photo by Bob Whitesel, 2015-17 president of the AETE.

 

POST-CHRISTIAN & 4 Mindsets for Facing a Post-Christian Culture

By Bruce Ashford, Facts and Trends, 4-14-16.

As churches in America face an increasingly hostile and post-Christian culture, we must clearly define who we are and how we should approach our social and cultural contexts. As I see it, churches tend to choose one of four mindsets: Bomb Shelter, Ultimate Fighter, Chameleon, or Kingdom Preview. Only one of these applies truth in a biblical manner.

The Church as Bomb Shelter

In a post-Christian and sometimes anti-Christian context, many Christians view the church as a bomb shelter. The political and cultural elite as well as the broader population will increasingly castigate Christians’ beliefs about certain theological and moral issues…

Believers with this mentality have good intentions. They want to preserve the church’s purity, recognizing the church is under attack, and hold on to what they have (Revelation 3:11).

However, this mentality is misguided, arising from a timid fear of man. It is spurred more by secular wisdom than by biblical faith, by faithless fear than by Christian courage and vitality. The bomb shelter mentality views the church as a walled city rather than living stones, as a safe deposit box rather than a conduit of spiritual power.

The Church as an Ultimate Fighter

This mindset tends to view the church exclusively and comprehensively as fighters. The fighters’ weapons are beliefs, feelings, and values wielded in the name of spiritual warfare. Unlike those hiding in the bomb shelter, fighters venture forth into the surrounding culture, seeking awareness of its movements and creeds in order to assault culture with lethal force.

Believers with this mentality cling to the biblical principle of waging war against what is evil. They rightly recognize Christians must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), resist the devil (James 4:7), and demolish every high-minded thing that rises up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

However, this mentality is misguided to the extent it wrongly applies the principles above. The fault of the ultimate fighter church is not that it wants to fight but that it suggests the entirety of the Christian life is nothing but war. Today’s social and cultural contexts are full of unbelievers, and those unbelievers are not only enemies of God but also are drowning men in need of a lifeboat…

Chameleon

Christians with a chameleon mindset tend to view their cultural context as neutral. They might disagree with aspects of it, but overall, they think of culture as an ally rather than a threat. They tend to interact comfortably and uncritically with the reigning social, cultural, and political trends of the day.

Unlike those with the ultimate fighter and bomb shelter mentalities, they incorporate the dominant culture easily into their lives and churches. These Christians tend to build churches that are institutional chameleons. Their churches change colors as the cultural context changes colors.

Christians with this mindset rightly recognize culture is something ordained by God, something that’s not inherently bad. They recognize God enables all humans everywhere to produce cultures that exhibit real aspects of truth, goodness, and beauty. However, this mentality fails to see the ways every culture and all aspects of a culture are warped and distorted because of sin.

When Christians adopt the chameleon mindset, they deny the Bible its rightful place as the standard by which every culture should be judged, and they forfeit the ability to be prophetic voices…

The Church as a Preview of the Kingdom

The best mindset for the church is one in which the church is a preview of God’s coming kingdom. In the midst of unbelief and even persecution, we determine to live our lives as seamless tapestries of word and deed. We proclaim Christ and the gospel with our lips (word), and we promote Christ and the gospel with our lives (deed).

In so doing, the church’s corporate life previews a future era when we will live together with Christ on the new heavens and earth, when we will flourish in our relationship to God, to each other, and to the rest of creation…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/01/11/4-mindsets-for-facing-a-post-christian-culture/

POST-CHRISTENDOM & An Afterlife for Europe’s Disused Places of Worship #NYTimes

by Celestine Bohlen, New York Times, 6/2/14

“… Perhaps nowhere is the plight of churches more stark than in the Netherlands, where about 1,000 Catholic churches — about two-thirds of the country’s total — are due to be shut down by 2025, a reorganization forced by a steady drop in attendance, baptisms and weddings. Those were the figures given by Cardinal Willem Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, in a report delivered to Pope Francis last December.

This trend is building up to an ‘immense tsunami,’ said Ms. Grootswagers, council secretary for the Future for Religious Heritage. ‘Every day, there is a story in the papers about another church closing. Before, it was kept quiet. Now they are saying it in the open.’

From Italy to Estonia, communities are scrambling to find ways to save oft-beloved buildings from destruction, neglect, and in some cases the ravages of mass tourism. The status of religious buildings varies widely. In France, churches built before 1905 mostly belong to the municipalities. In Britain, most belong to the Church of England.”

Read more at … http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/world/europe/an-afterlife-for-europes-disused-places-of-worship.html?_r=1&referrer=