Why is Christianity in decline in Europe, Canada and the United States? Is our Christian worldview weak?

My mouth fell open wide enough to catch flies and my teary eyes blurred the scene I watched unfold on my television.  There on my screen was a Christian missionary from India witnessing to a guru who had devoted his life to the worship and following of the god, Boswana. His parents had dedicated him as a baby and this man said that he had spent his life trying to be perfect.  He had disciples following his examples.  But after a discussion of maybe a few hours, this man-this guru-accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and God.  He asked for a bible to study and said he would tell those who follow him about Jesus.   And it happened in a moment of time.  (Father of Lights by Wanderlust productions, 2012).

How could that happen?  It was miraculous and surely the Holy Spirit drew this man.  In a single moment, this man’s life was changed and he began a journey that will change how he views the entire world, its creation and his place in it.  He will examine and question everything he learned and as he follows Christ, his worldview will change.

“Worldview” also known by its German calque, Weltanschauung, (borrowed from German philosophy) is the term assigned to the value system everyone uses to view the world.  One might say it is the glasses through which we see everything.  Christians have a Christian worldview.  In other words, we view the world as created by God for man, we view man as inherently fallen and with a sin nature due to the sin of Adam, and we view man as redeemable by God and that his redemption took place once and for all who accept it through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice.  Our place within the world then, is to follow God and his teachings as expressed in the Bible.  This is a very broad stroke of the pen (or the computer keys as the case may be).  There are many different Christian worldviews, but most of Christian orthodoxy would not disagree with these statements.  

Most of us, especially our churches and denominations express our worldview through what we call “Our statement of Beliefs” which are usually in keeping with The Apostles Creed, but may include more.  But that is not the subject of this article. 

The subject of the article is the suggestion that the reason that Christianity is in decline in Europe, Canada, and the United States may be due to a weak Christian worldview or one that is not lived out in our actions.  It is my purpose and hope that through this article or series of articles, we may be challenged to examine our worldview and how it plays out in our lives, and through that challenge recommit ourselves to live out the Christian walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and reflect Christ in everything we do.

The Decline of Christianity

In order for the rest of this article to make sense, I must prove my first statement that Christianity is in decline in Europe, Canada and the United States.  My first sense of this decline came in personal experience when I visited Canada in 2006.  I was there for a Christian conference, but it became immediately clear to me that almost all of the speakers were from the United States.  Those speakers and workshops that were conducted regarding drama and lighting and sound and computer tech information were all given by Canadians, but the Bible and theology presentations were all, but one, Americans from the US.  The Canadians told me that Christian influence in the country was fading away and that churches were losing membership and closing.  On a city bus I began talking to the riders about Jesus and I was surprised to talk to a young lady in her early twenties, born in Canada, who didn’t know who he was.

The numbers look like this:  In 1991 83% of the population claimed Christianity as their religion.  That is all inclusive, all denominations.  But ten years later, in 2001 that number decreased to 77%.  In 2011, the numbers dropped further to 63.3 %.  That is a staggering drop [1].  Now, there are many factors to consider, like the increasing number of immigrants and also those that may have been “cultural Christians” referring to themselves as Christian in the past in order to identify with their culture but now feeling free to express the fact that they don’t really follow Christ.  However you view them, we would be irresponsible if we did not at least consider them and ask ourselves if we, as Christians, are missing something.

For simplicity reasons, the numbers below are from France as a model for Europe.  In 2007 54% considered themselves Christian (almost all, Catholic) but that number dropped in four short years to 45% in 2011 [2].

Even in the United States, according to the Gallup polls, 6% of Americans did not identify with a religious affiliation in 1998.  That number grew to 10% in 2002 and then to 13% in 2013 [3]

We, as Christians, must ask the critical question, Why?  Why is Christianity in decline in places where Christianity previously was strong?  The question is important and personal and the implications are great.  They tie into our children’s world and the world of our grandchildren and great grandchildren and they tie into their faith. 

We have to ask, “Are we passing on our faith, is there something we can do?”  Or more specifically, “What can I do?”  These posts will continue to examine our worldview and ask if the church is truly living the worldview we profess or is the church giving way to another worldview, and if this will cost our Christian future.

Please post a comment below and enter the conversation.  Part 2 will run next Monday.

 

[1]  See“Religions in Canada—Census 2011″. Statistics Canada/Statistique Canada.   “Canada”Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 

[2] See Views on globalisation and faithIpsos MORI, 5 July 2011, “Les Français sont de moins en moins catholiques”, , 2007-01-10

[3] http://www.gallup.com/poll/124793/this-christmas-78-americans-identify-christian.aspx

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3 comments on “Why is Christianity in decline in Europe, Canada and the United States? Is our Christian worldview weak?
  1. Firstly, Christianity is vainly engaged in developing all sorts of dogmas that creates lot of internal plurality. Secondly look at the some of the discussion so bitterly going on in the Pastor’s global net work: Can you have full ministry without speaking in tongues? This is a worthless topic, yet people are so vehemently arguing. Love God and Love neighbour. This is fundamental teaching of Christ. Christ never spoke in tongues. The same way debates over the baptism. Christ, during his life time never baptized a single person . None of the twelve disciples were baptized, Who baptized John the Baptized. Leave this subjects and concentrate on Love of God and neighbour. Christianity will again grow.
    Rev. J. Bavani Rajan

    • Dear Rev. Rajan, Thanks for interacting and I think you are correct that “arguments” that separate Christians can be distracting from “showing” Christianity by our love for God and our neighbor. I also think that if we would love as Christ, then people would see it and follow Christ as well. In that respect, you have hit the nail on the head and I will keep this in mind as I write further on the subject of transferring our worldview to the next generation and the world around us. But, I do think it is good to talk about our differences as well, as long as we are loving and respectful while we do it, not condescending and arrogant. In that sense, I appreciate your honesty and attitude.
      Let those that read this post love God and love our neighbor and consider others that post our neighbor, too.

      • Mark,I found your blog and have been following your posts for the last month or so. I too am buenrded with an analytical mind that continues to struggle with the veracity of Christianity. I grew up in a loving Christian family, and I accepted it blindly, fully, and faithfully until my 25th birthday. Since then, I’ve struggled with my faith and have prayed the same prayers that you have expressed. I would like nothing better than to be free of my doubt and live contentedly as a committed Christian, but my skeptical mind won’t let me do it. I’ve benefited from following your journey and appreciate your willingness to share these things that are so tabu in the church. I’ll share a couple things that have helped me in my own journey. 1) I’ve studied personalities and the way analytical personalities are inclined think, and it’s made me realize that part of my problem may be a hyper-skepticism. I hold the evidences of Xianity to a higher standard than I do other truths. I tend to play devils advocate in my head with the truth claims of Christianity. If you’ve never done it, take one of the simple true colors personality tests on the internet and see if it doesn’t describe you as well as it did me. There is a negative side to my green personality that causes me to take pride in my analysis and often think of other less skeptical thinkers as incompetent. Moreover, I can get bogged down in the analysis and avoid making a decision for long periods of time (years). 2) I find that I’m most skeptical of scripture when I’m not in it in a meditative sort of way. When I spend quality time in the Word, it seems to permeate my thought processes and I find scripture to, once again, have the ring of truth . 3) I was intrigued to learn that Francis Schaeffer (of L’abri) had a crisis of faith in his later years. He put everything on hold and analyzed the truth claims of scripture once again. He re-examined the way (as you note in your comment) that Christianity really does seem to explain the world around us, and the teachings of Christ REALLY do seem to work in the world (if practiced). Schaeffer decided that the truth claims stand up to scrutiny and Christianity (both philosophically and practically) really works in this world better than any other system. He renewed his personal faith and continued on in his ministry. He called this analysis his gothic arch of faith . I found it helpful to read about this period of doubt in his life. I wish you peace and success in your search. I’ll continue to follow your progress as I continue in my own journey.

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