New research from Lifeway and Ligonier Ministries says a lot about the state of the church in North America and, unfortunately, it’s not great! Here are some of the results:
-53% believe people are “essentially good by nature”, which counters the clear teaching of Romans 3:10-12.
-51% hold that other religions may lead to salvation.
-69% believe “small sins” do not deserve eternal punishment.
-58% affirm that worshipping alone (i.e., listening to K-Love and watching a preacher on TV) can replace congregational worship.
-44% hold the Bible’s teachings on sex to be “outdated.”
It’s not all bad news, 91% of evangelicals believe in justification by faith alone and 97% affirm the Trinity although many are confused about the doctrine. For example, 78% responded they agree that Jesus is the greater “created being.” Also, faith among millennials is up from 14% to 18% but the majority of them do not believe the Bible is literally true, the majority do not hold that homosexual behavior is a sin and 46% assert that “gender is a choice.”
The summary of the study concludes: “The 2018 State of Theology survey reveals deep confusion about the Bible’s teaching, not only among Americans as a whole, but also among evangelicals. There is something very wrong when a majority of Americans can give the correct answers to basic Bible questions and at the same time say that their beliefs are purely a matter of personal opinion.
These results show the urgent need for sound biblical teaching and the bold preaching of the gospel. Millions of people do not understand the holiness of God, the reality of sin, and the one way of salvation in Jesus Christ. There is much work to be done, but it is our hope that these findings will serve the church in its efforts to reach more people with the faithful proclamation of the truth of God’s Word.”
The fault for these shocking results are not just an increasing pagan culture but falls at the feet of preachers like myself. In general, the church over the last thirty years has slid from Biblical preaching to self-help seminars. Ministers need to wake up and realize they are called to be like Timothy and Titus not like Tony Robbins.
The church at large need to return to expository preaching with the pastor digging in to the Word of God every day (not buying sermon outlines online). They need to know and preach “sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9) and anticipate questions by training themselves in apologetics (1 Peter 3:15). Pastors need to remember that we will not be judged by the size of our church nor by our social media presence but by our handling of the Word of God (James 3:1).