The strong and repeated declaration by the liberal Christians that White Christian Evangecalism in the US is the epitomy of all harm, and is needing a new reformation is actually a reflection state of the Liberal Christian movement in the US. They are really terrified of the rapid growth in the evangelical charismatic churches, finding every reason to condemn it.
There is an deep sense of hypocrisy and delusion in the outrage of the liberal christians. They are fond of accusing the evangelicals of perpetuating white privelage, but look closer, it is the liberals who are guilty. Look at the three leading liberal denominations – they are all white elites. The PCUSA is 91% white, the TEC is 87% white, ELCA is 96% white and the UCC is 87% white. Ironically, the evangelical Christian movement in the US is powered by its increasing diverse populations of African Americans (COGIC) and Hispanics (AOG).
The liberal Christians repeatedly claim that all denominations even evangelicals are declining not just their own when challeged on their declining Sunday attendances. This again is a half truth when the greatest decliners are the white liberal churches:-
- PCUSA – Peak membership 4.25mil in 1965. Today, it is 1.5 mil.
- UCC – Peak membership 2.1mil in 1965. Today it is 880K
- TEC – Peak membership 3.6mil in 1961. Today it is 1.7 mil.
- ELCA – 5.24 mil in 1988 when formed. Today it is 3.68 mil
The numbers still looks big until we go down to the average Sunday attendance. The ASA for TEC is only 570K at 6473 churches with a median average sunday workship attendance of 57. Such a small congregation would often struggle to pay for the church building and a full time pastor. When the endowments dry up, the financial crunch would surely come. Most of the Evangelical churches had massive growths:-
- COGIC – 0.42mil in 1965. Today, it is over 6 mil.
- PCAmerica – 41K in 1973. Today it is 367K.
- AOG – 0.57Mil in 1965. Today, it is 3.24 mil
- African Methodist Episcopal – 1.16 Mil in 1951. Today it is 2.5 mil
- SBC – 10.77 mil in 1965. Today it is 15.21 mil.
- Non denominal mega churches – Negible attendance in 1965. Today,
- Lakewood Church – 43K
- LifeChurch – 30K
- Gateway church – 28K
- Christ church of the valley – 23K
- Newspring – 23K
- Church of the Highlands – 22K
- Elevation church – 22K
- Central Christian – 21K
- Willow Creek – 25K
- North Point – 30K
- SouthEast Christian – 21K
- Fellowship of Woodlands – 17K
- Potter’s House – 17K
- Christ Fellowship – 16.5K
- Calvary Chapel – 16K
- Calvary Albuquerque – 16.8K
- McLean Bible Church – 16.5K
- Christ the King – 17K
- Crossroads – 16.8K
The Evangelical churches may not grow as fast as the population growth, but their absolute numbers are growing in comparison with the liberals over 50 years especially the charismatics whereas the liberal churches are bright falling stars since the late 60s. The rise of the non denomination mega churches happened during this period of mainline decline. Their attendance per week could easily exceeds the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.
A case of revival is the Assembly of God whose attendance in 2016 is over 2 million at 13,023 churches. It had grown from 1133K attendance in 1978. The AOG is 58% white as compared to her liberal counterparts close to 90%. In the early 1970s, the AOG was at least 3 times smaller than the Episcopal church membership. Today, its attendance is 3 to 4 times larger and still growing yearly. Hence, the repeated declaration by liberal christians that the Evengelicals are declining just like them but not as much is a good kind of delusion.
The Liberal churches has some of the highest age of members. 39% of the UCC members, and 35% of TEC are above 65. This compares to 23% of AOG, and 27% for the Southern Baptist. The demographic composition will be a serious cause for an increasingly steep decline for the liberals in the coming decade.
There is so much darkness and emptiness in many of the very loud liberal churches. When I attended a service at the MCC in Sydney in the early 2010s, the attendance was only a few dozen at most and the pastor was focused on criticising Israel. At the end, there is emptiness for the Holy Spirit of God has long left and the churches are holding on the man made beliefs and theological constructions. The loudest churches become hollow dark places and empty gongs preaching to the converted.
The ladder of Jacob with the angels descending up and down heaven is further reflected in John 1:47-51 where upon the foundation Rock that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God, will bring heaven down to earth. The Kingdom of God comes down into the church. We may call ourselves an ecumenical and interfaith church or even the body of Christ. But if it is not based on the risen Lord and Jesus as the Way, the Truth and Life, then our heaven on earth is an empty gong. When Israel came into Jerusalem in 1967, the Glory of the Lord went forth from Zion to separate the tares from the wheat, to prepare the way of the Lord. That is why there is division in the Episcopal church and the PCUSA, where churches are leaving the main body. God is moving to take His people out.
There is nothing wrong with the great liberal virtue of helping the poor, the lonely and the outcast. But it becomes idolatory when we worship humanity. There is some goodness within all of us, but at the end we don’t really deserve all the goodness that God has bestowed in our lives. It is all by God’s grace, love and mercy. When we start to take our eyes of the saving Grace of God in Jesus Christ, we focus within and will find only darkness for all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God try as hard as we might. For at the end, even the greatest do gooder on earth, falls short of being covered by the blood of the lamb on the most vilest sinner. It is when we know how great the grace of God in Christ Jesus, it is when we sin no more.
The Liberal Christian Mainline churches have a place and a purpose in the Body of Christ and they are very large number of more than 30,000 churches. When it is half empty and ineffective, the Kingdom of Darkness comes in.