Will the evangelical movement survive?
By Leith Anderson
Last March in The Christian Science Monitor, Kentucky writer Michael Spencer said, “We are on the verge—within 10 years—of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity.” Questions about the future of evangelicalism are the ones I am most often asked. Do I expect a major collapse of evangelical Christianity in the next 10 years? I do not. I do expect the face of evangelicalism to be different in 2019, but that doesn’t take a prophet to predict. It is already happening.
Evangelical Christianity is rapidly growing in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Traditionally Catholic South America is fast turning into an evangelical Pentecostal continent. Christians are multiplying by the millions in Communist China. And in the United States? The growing edge of almost every evangelical denomination is Hispanics. Many of the largest and fastest growing evangelical megachurches in this country are Hispanic, African American and Asian. While white megachurches have been around for a while, many of these new ethnic megachurches are just getting started.
There is a very practical way to observe the depth of evangelical Christian faith across America. The next time there is a tragedy—tornado in a small town, shooting at a school, apartment fire in a major city—listen to what the survivors say on television. You will be impressed by frequently declared depth of Christian faith in Jesus when facing the harshest traumas of their lives. This is the evangelical faith that has spread across our land and will continue into the next generation.
In the coming decade many older local congregations will go out of business, just as many older Christians will die and many older businesses will close. But have you seen what is happening in your local elementary school on Sunday mornings? Across America there is a rapid spread of new churches meeting in schools, community centers, restaurants, theaters and any other rentable gathering place. Almost all of them are evangelical congregations with young pastors and young parishioners.
Evangelicalism in 2020 will be more racially diverse, will speak with a collage of accents, will have closed thousands of old churches and opened thousands more new churches, will take the Bible seriously, will believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord and will be engaging in the needs of people.
Leith Anderson is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and has served as the senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., since 1977. He has a Master of Divinity from Denver Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. Faith Matters is his daily radio program heard in cities across America and overseas. He has been published in many periodicals and has written 10 books. He and his wife, Charleen, have four children.
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