The headlines about the Pew Report, including at this blog, say that Christianity is declining in America. But if you look closer, says Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer, the data shows that the decline is in “nominal Christians”–those in name only–who are becoming open about their unbelief and calling themselves “Nones.” The number of “convictional” Christians–those who really believe all that stuff–is holding steady. See his analysis of the data after the jump.
There was a time when church membership was a cultural advantage. Belonging to a church was good for business and a sign of fitting into the community. So church membership rolls were filled with “pewsitters” or “Christmas/Easter” members. Today, belonging to a church can be a cultural disadvantage. So there is no reason for nominal Christians to bother with it.
This exit of the nominals can be a good thing, on one level, but I want to make two important caveats. [Read more...]