January 19th – February 23rd
“The world is changed. … I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
“Turn on a cable news show or pick up any news magazine, and you get the impression that Christian America is on its last legs. The once dominant faith is now facing rapidly declining church attendance, waning political influence, and an abysmal public perception. More than 76 percent of Americans self-identify as Christians, but many today are ashamed to carry the label.” ~ Gabe Lyons, 2010
According to the Pew Research organization, only 65% of Americans now self-identify as Christian; a dramatic decrease since Gabe Lyons wrote his prophetic prediction in 2010.
Is the end in sight for American Christianity? Is there hope for something new to emerge when so much of the social media discourse would lead us to believe that Christians are incapable of change and the unchurched wouldn’t care if we did?
In 1760, American church attendance had reached its lowest level ever with just one in twenty people attending services at a Christian Church. It was in this context that Professor William Warren Sweet wrote a book titled, The Story of Religion in America. In his book, he asserted that “the church was too far gone ever to be revived.” It was widely accepted that within a generation, the American Church would be no more.
Then the Holy Spirit moved.
When change finally came, it was dramatic. It happened first in the colleges on the East Coast where previously religion had been scorned. At the beginning of the 19th century, students in an increasingly secularized American had inexplicably begun to direct their thoughts toward spirituality. From the students attending the schools, interest began to rekindle first in the churches, then in the communities in which those churches were planted. What would later be called The Second Great Awakening was so profound in scope that it is likely that you didn’t know, until now, that Christianity nearly died in America once already.
The Holy Spirit is moving again.
Within Christian America, there are pockets of renewal. In a time of great decline, SHUMC is bucking the national trend. We are impacting lives, building momentum, transforming hearts, and building for the future.
In this first series of 2020, we will begin our year together discussing the ways in which we will continue to counter-culturally create Kingdom momentum in South OKC by exploring the six necessary characteristics that will define the Next Christian innovators.