Noted author, pollster, statistician and church planter Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College. He is a guy who has his finger on the pulse of what is happening with the American church and where it is heading. Find his biography here.
Earlier this year Stetzer was interviewed on the Carey Nieuwhof podcast which can be found here. The entire interview is fascinating. You can either listen to the audio version or read the transcript at the website.
I would like to share Stetzer's top 3 insights.
1. The Christianity faith is not declining.
Some people say that Christianity is declining, but Ed is actually encouraged by the numbers he sees. A decline in nominal Christianity is creating an increase in a more serious, robust faith among believers.
Note: According to the transcript (page 3), "the general social survey, which is the most widely used source of religion data in the United States. University of Chicago does this study now every two years. We're at the highest level of regular church attendance in evangelical churches for young adults since the survey began in 1972."
What’s going away is nominalism, but the percentage of people who are devout Christians isn’t shifting, which means there’s still so much opportunity for the mission force to continue engaging the mission field.
2. You can’t war at people and reach them at the same time.
You don’t have to spend too much time scrolling social media to find angry Christians voicing opinions about current events. Their judgmental voices are being heard loud and clear. Unfortunately, a lot of the people hearing them aren’t believers. They don’t know what the love of Jesus looks like and they certainly aren’t seeing it played out within the posts and comments of many of His followers.
Christians are absolutely allowed to have and voice opinions, but in this ever changing culture, when everything seems to be turning more and more secular, the question is what is more important? For Christians to attempt to win debates with harsh tones or to show and share the love of Jesus to a broken and hurting world? Jesus did not call us to get angry at a secular world. Even in what feels like the hardest of times, He has called us to love.
We must remember that spewing out anger and judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. You can’t war at a people and reach them at the same time.
3. Nothing good happens without some pain in the process.
Few good things exist in life, if at all, that don’t come with a side of pain. Love, marriage, parenting, family, work, success, leadership – they are all wonderful things, but nothing good happens without experiencing some level of pain in the process. There’s really no way to escape it.
Leadership is often a willingness to lean into the pain that other people refuse to lean into. Many people don’t realize how difficult living through life’s experiences is going to be. They aren’t ready or preparing for the challenges ahead. As a leader, make sure you recognize and can be secure in the fact that pain is inevitable in your own life, so that you can lead others through the painful parts of all that is good within theirs.