the shape of leadership

American Mission

Reaching an increasingly secular nation

America is an increasingly secular nation. The fastest-growing religious affiliation is no religious affiliation. A recent analysis of General Social Survey data showed “nones,” Catholics and evangelicals virtually tied as the largest religious — or nonreligious — groupings.

Not surprisingly, biblical views of morality are declining. Gallup reports significant segments of the population approving of sex between an unmarried man and woman (71 percent); homosexual relations (63 percent); and pornography (37 percent).

Barna Group’s recently published list of the most post-Christian U.S. cities revealed an uptick in secularism over the last two years. In 2017, Portland, Maine, was the most post-Christian city, with Barna’s metrics placing 57 percent of the urban area’s population in that category. In 2019, four cities exceeded this percentage, including Portland (now 60 percent post-Christian) and Springfield, Massachusetts (claiming the top spot, at 66 percent).

The challenges are great. And the opposition is intense.

Respondents in Barna’s nationwide poll qualified as post-Christian by meeting nine of 16 criteria, such as identifying as atheist; believing the Bible is inaccurate; disagreeing that faith is important in their lives; and not attending church in the last six months.

This is the mission field of the Church in America. Just as in Jesus’ day, the harvest is plentiful. The workers are few. The challenges are great. And the opposition is intense. But with God, all things are possible.

The Assemblies of God is pursuing a bold vision to see a healthy church in every community across the country. This includes the hardest-to-reach places — like Springfield, Massachusetts, where 87 percent of residents don’t regularly read Scripture, 65 percent don’t attend church, and 60 percent have never claimed Jesus as Savior.

Taking the gospel to America’s most secular regions requires a commitment to Spirit-led renewal and multiplication. It will take seeking God for America like never before as we labor together for a harvest of souls.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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