Evangelicals, of course, believe that church growth and decline is ultimately in God’s hands. If America goes fully secular, we will receive that as part of God’s providential plans. But the clamor about the imminent death of traditional faith, in the short term, is much ado about nothing.
Devout and secular Americans alike have been heralding the decline of traditional faith since the time of the Puritans, but American religion always confounds reports of its demise. The crumbling of evangelical Christianity, in particular, is a favorite narrative of many in today’s media, and is even a popular story among certain Christian pollsters. In spite of worrisome signs in segments of the American evangelical world, traditional faith in America is not going away soon.
The massive decline of mainline Protestant denominations is well documented. And as the Southern Baptist Convention’s own LifeWay Research has noted, the largest Protestant denomination is showing alarming evidence of early decline, too. But as the recent Pew survey of religion indicated, the total number of evangelicals in America is holding steady. Part of the reason for this is that evangelicals are better at recruiting new adherents to replace those who fall away.
But Christian commitment in America, especially among evangelicals, may also be under-reported.