Prayer Targets: Non-Evangelism; Obamacare Repeal/Replace; Gorsuch; Texas SB 6; Israel; NDP, Call2Fall
March 29, 2017
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world… Let your light shine… (Matthew 5:13-16)
Dear praying friends,
Bill Dallas and George Barna are keeping their fingers on the pulse of American Christianity, giving us the facts, statistics, and analysis of the thinking and behavior of believers and the implications for the future of the faith in our nation. These excerpts give an overview of their surveys regarding Christian evangelism.
Church attendance is down. Professions of faith are at historically low levels – the result: a declining percentage of born-again Christians. The number of people who identify as Christian is falling. Participation in small groups has dropped by half in a decade. The pattern is the same for adult Sunday school involvement. Bible reading has declined. Even the number of adults who pray to God has decreased significantly in recent years. The question is: why?
New research from the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) supplies a likely reason: Christians are not excited enough about their faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ to share the basics of that faith with non-believers. And that includes many Bible-believing pastors.
No Sense of Responsibility – Nationwide, the ACFI discovered that only two of ten adults (20%) believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others who believe differently. While the numbers were higher for Christian-related subgroups of the population, the figures were not much different. Just 25% of self-professing Christians believe they are called to promote the gospel: 31% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics. Only a minority of born-again Christians feel a responsibility to share with others their own Christian experience.
Results were similar among diverse population groups. Age made little difference. In no generation did even one in four people claim any responsibility to evangelize others. Hispanics and blacks were slightly more likely than whites to feel such responsibility (25% vs.18%). There was no difference between the views of men and women.
In ACFI’s parallel survey of theologically conservative Protestant pastors, more than one of every four pastors (27%) do not believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith in Christ with those of other beliefs. There were no significant differences by age or race, but theologically conservative female pastors were less likely than their male counterparts to claim a personal responsibility to evangelize (54% vs.74%). Conservative pastors who were seminary graduates felt less obligation to proclaim the gospel than non-seminary graduates. Conservative Baptist (90%) Pentecostal (69%) and Holiness (76%) pastors consider evangelism a personal responsibility.
Not Sharing the Gospel – Sadly, people’s lack of a sense of responsibility was consistent with their engagement in evangelism. Only 23% of adults shared their personal faith monthly during the past year. Many who did were not Christians or shared a version of Christianity not grounded in Scripture. ACFI estimates that fewer than one of ten adults who shared their faith monthly communicated a biblically-accurate version of the gospel.
What Message? Adults shared all kinds of divergent ideas about the Christian narrative with non-believers. Among concepts most often shared by conservative believers: 1) people are basically good; 2) having some faith is more important than the substance of that faith; 3) God exists and is omnipotent and omniscient yet mankind evolved; 4) God is aware of what happens in throughout the universe but is not involved in our lives; 5) there is absolute moral truth but it is not universal; 6) eternal security can come from either faith in the Gospel of Christ or by doing good deeds; 7) a life can be considered “successful” when one achieves his or her personal goals; 8) the Bible is the reliable Word of God; Jesus understands our struggles because He sinned while on earth; and 9) sin is real but Satan and the Holy Spirit are not. The more theologically liberal people are, the more likely they are to combine multiple unbiblical concepts into their presentation of the Christian faith (read The State of Christian Evangelism; American Culture Review, 3/22/17, edited here for space).
The report concludes that most non-Christians in the U.S. do not hear the Gospel during a typical year, and of those who do, far too many get a distorted view of the Gospel. Barna asks, “What can be expected of a nation in which only 10% of the public has a biblical worldview?” Yet the report ends in a hopeful note: “A large percentage of theologically conservative pastors do share a strong sense of responsibility to evangelize; 9 of 10 have a biblical worldview. Though outnumbered by theologically moderate and liberal pastors, they are prepared to share the gospel. We estimate as many as 70,000 churches in the U.S. have biblically solid, evangelistic pastors. A concentrated effort by those pastors to boldly, clearly, and consistently proclaim the Gospel could be the basis of a spiritual rebound in America. We cannot hope to see godly cultural and political change without a growing population of spirit-filled obedient believers led by Bible-preaching pastors who equip them to share the Gospel. Ours is the challenge to diligently pray for souls, for revival, and for God’s people to be both salt (cultural, institutional impact) and light (shining believers who model and proclaim biblical Christianity). Like our Christian forebears in the ancient Roman empire, who faced the lions and fire and sword, if we remain faithful, we will see the victory of Jesus and the Gospel in our own land.
Obamacare Repeal/Replace – Disaster or Blessing? Much has been made by the Democrats and the media characterizing the decision to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from the House floor without a vote as a major failure by the president and Speaker Ryan. What we saw was predictable and is all part of the new administration and congress getting to know one another. Moreover, the bill had major flaws. Those insured under Obamacare, already abused by skyrocketing premiums, would have paid a 20 percent increase in premiums for the first two years under the AHCA. The American people need insurance costs to decrease, not increase by unaffordable increments. The one year 30 percent penalty for people who allow their policies to lapse for 62 days, whether paid by the government or an insurance company, was still a fine. Yet those who chose to go without coverage paid no such fine.
But the overarching problem with the bill is that it was built upon the core building blocks of Obamacare. Thus, it created a new entitlement for millions of Americans, expressed via tax credits for the middle class and subsidies for the poor. The failure of this one bill to pass is neither the end of the world nor the issue. Congress will continue to work on the measure and hopefully listen to the people and to the experts, before carefully weighing their options and producing a bill built upon conservative free market principles and not socialistic Obamacare. (Read Rep. Dan Brat’s (R-Va.) Statement, issued after the House decision. Brat was a Ph.D. economist at Randolph-Macon College before his election to Congress). One conservative leader suggested that we should have a safety net for the very poor and allow everyone else to buy insurance they can afford on the free market. This simple plan would lead to the lowest possible prices and the best quality health care America can produce.
The Conservative Caucus may not have won points with the president or the speaker, but they prevented the Republican Party from facing perdition in two years when millions of Americans will have continued to face outrageous premium increases under the Republicans, bemoaning the AHCA even more than Obamacare. Nearly everything is managed less efficiently and at greater cost under the federal government than the free market. The media has spun this as a disaster and defeat when, in fact, we are moving in the right direction (Listen: Tony Perkins & Rep. Dave Brat - Click HERE; advance to 1:30 min; see Who’s to Blame; Enough Recriminations; Go back to Work; AHCA: Broken Conservative Promises?; Party Favors Courtesy the Freedom Caucus).
- Pray that the White House and every member of Congress will reject recrimination and roll up their sleeves, get back to work, and fashion the best possible plan rooted in free market principles and not wealth redistribution, regulation-heavy, national-debt-exploding socialism that will bring America into depression and bankruptcy. May the American people be delivered from their addictions to Government-As-Provider handouts. May another God-sent great awakening revive our faith in Him and restore to Americans a biblical worldview that moves them to refuse dependence upon government. May Congress defund Planned Parenthood and bring an end to taxpayer funding of abortion. (Ex 15:26; Dt 28: all, esp. verses 1, 12, 15, 43-44 ; Pr 22:7; 1 Sam 8:5-22; 2 Th 3:6-10; 1 Tim 5:3-16; Heb 12:15)
Finally, please add the following needs to your prayer list: 1) Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation in light of a filibuster threat and the “nuclear option”; 2) Defunding Planned Parenthood via “reconciliation” of the Obamacare repeal bill (now in limbo) or the Budget Continuing Resolution which Senate Democrats could filibuster, and then try to blame the Republicans for the resulting government shut down; 3) Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R), who has been slow to do so, announced that the Texas Privacy Act (SB 6), similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB2 (bathroom bill), will go to the House floor for a vote (passed by the Texas Senate); 4) Historically, both parties have been overt supporters of the Jewish State, but two prominent longtime Democrats say one party has turned against Israel; 5) Pray and plan ahead for the annual National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 4th and Call2Fall, Sunday, July 2, 2017. As always, thank you for praying!