Why don’t people “practice what they preach?” Why don’t we act in ways we say we believe?
The answer: What we believe is too difficult to do. What we do is easier than what we believe.
Is this one of the reasons for the liberalizing of the American church – to bring the church’s belief systems into conformity with what is easier for us to do? You bet it is.
This is also one of the reasons why the church is becoming less relevant to millions of people. The church is less “salt and light”, less a “shining city on a hill” to aspire to, and more a bland mush of conformity with the culture. In fact, it is turning into a defender and promoter of pop culture, pushing government to enact laws that demand tolerance for what were a few years ago universally considered gross immoralities. The mainline denominations, including Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian, have blended in with and have become so indistinguishable from the rest of pop culture that their relevance is lost and reasons for attending are disappearing. This explains, in great part, why these denominations have experienced such a precipitous decline in membership over the last several decades. It is getting difficult to distinguish the church from the Socialist Party from the Man-Boy Love Association.
What churches are growing? Assemblies of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Jehovah’s Witnesses have shown the greatest growth. Smaller conservative spin-offs of main line churches that maintain their significant orthodox, conservative distinctions have shown some modest growth, but even these are few and far between. Unfortunately for those of us who feel our nation needs politically active Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses abstain from the fight by refusing to participate in elections, politics, and the military as their means of avoiding the corrupting influence of politics.
Each of these relatively prospering bodies, in their own way, demand something from their members to counter the culture that threatens our survival. They each have strong stands against the rampant acceptance of abortion, against the acceptance of “gayness” as the new “cool” , and against the general immorality that is the new normal. These churches promote traditional, strong families, moral absolutes, respect for life, a literal interpretation of the Bible (as they understand it) and perpetuation of our species. On this last point, perpetuation of our species is one of the main objectives of our worship of God in the first place, apparently quite distinct from the beliefs demanded by both anything goes liberals and anything blows Islam. Both of these epitomize cognitive dissonance.
The growing denominations work to eliminate the cognitive dissonance that keeps members from acting on their beliefs. They demand something of their members. They are counter-cultural. These churches promote as “normal” the actual living of their beliefs. As regards competing ideologies like Islam, growing churches clearly lay out the evils of Islam instead of attempting to highlight misleading and ill-informed similarities. As regards big government, socialism, and the “social gospel”, these churches emphasize the need for personal responsibility required by personal decisions required to embrace personal salvation and living a new life.
The liberal church is a dying church trying to avoid cognitive dissonance.
The conservative church is a growing church, successfully integrating beliefs into actions.
Our cognitive dissonance and failure of our churches is also closely related to the failure of our public education system. Here is the trailer to the eye-opening 90-minute video, “Indoctrination”, that gives a sweeping overview of the destruction of our Judeo-Christian culture in our schools…
The rates of growth and decline among the 25 largest churches in the U.S. reported in the 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches are:
|US MEMBERSHIP CHURCH RANKING: Largest 25 Churches|
|Current Ranking (Ranking in 2007 ed.)||Inclusive Membership|| |
Percentage Increase or Decrease
|The Catholic Church||1(1)||67,515,016||0.87%|
|Southern Baptist Convention||2(2)||16,306,246||0.22%|
|The United Methodist Church||3(3)||7,995,456||-0.99%|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||4(4)||5,779,316||1.56%|
|The Church of God in Christ||5(5)||5,499,875||0.00%|
|National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.||6(6)||5,000,000||0.00%|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||7(7)||4,774,203||-1.58%|
|National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.||8(8)||3,500,000||0.00%|
|Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)||9(9)||3,025,740||-2.36%|
|Assemblies of God||10(10)||2,836,174||0.19%|
|African Methodist Episcopal Church||11(11)||2,500,000||0.00%|
|National Missionary Baptist Convention of America||11(11)||2,500,000||0.00%|
|Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.||11(11)||2,500,000||0.00%|
|The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS)||14(14)||2,417,997||-0.94%|
|Churches of Christ||16(16)||1,639,495||0.00%|
|Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America||17(17)||1,500,000||0.00%|
|Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.||17(17)||1,500,000||0.00%|
|The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church||19(19)||1,443,405||0.21%|
|American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.||20(20)||1,371,278||-1.82%|
|United Church of Christ||21(21)||1,218,541||-0.47%|
|Baptist Bible Fellowship International||22(22)||1,200,000||0.00%|
|Christian Churches and Churches of Christ||23(23)||1,071,616||0.00%|
|The Orthodox Church in America||24(24)||1,064,000||0.00%|
|Percentage changes in italic/bold signify that membership was not updated from previous reported|