Living in a post-Christian society
    July 25 2017 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

    Most of us are painfully aware of the fact that the influence of Christianity and the church in the United States is not what it once was, even in this part of the country that has been known as the Bible Belt.
    Recent research released by the Barna Group identifies what it describes as the top 100 “post-Christian” cities in America. While many of the cities listed near the top of these rankings are located in New England, the Northeast and the West Coast, the report includes 11 cities from North Carolina, as well as several others from the Deep South.
    In Barna’s findings, several of the North Carolina cities were listed together as geographic regions. Cities from our state included in the list are: Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville (No. 67); Greenville, New Bern and Washington (No. 69); Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point (No. 86); Charlotte (No. 92); and Asheville, which was listed alongside the South Carolina cities of Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson (No. 93).
    Barna’s research data was compiled based on how adults in a nationwide survey responded to interview questions on matters pertaining to faith, religious beliefs and practices. To qualify as a post-Christian city, respondents had to meet at least nine of 16 different factors, such as identifying as atheist or agnostic, having never made a commitment to Jesus Christ, disagreeing about the Bible’s accuracy and having not attended a Christian church in the last six months, among other items.
    The results of this study has many implications for us as North Carolina Baptists. First, Barna’s research helps affirm that our emphasis on impacting lostness through disciple-making is on target, particularly in the eight major population centers of our state. Six of the eight population centers that our strategy has initially targeted can be found on Barna’s list (Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, Fayetteville, the Triad and the Triangle).
    Second, our state has transitioned from being part of the Bible Belt to being more of a mission field. As people from other states and other nations have migrated to North Carolina, they have brought with them different sets of spiritual beliefs, values and customs. We can no longer assume that people are familiar with the Bible or believe in its authority just because they live here in North Carolina.
    Third, we must evaluate and shift our approaches to evangelism and discipleship. While the message of the gospel never changes, our methods and approaches must change to reach our changing culture.
    Reaching this post-Christian culture will require a more relational approach to evangelism and discipleship. Because these individuals have little to no interest in church, they will not come to us, so we must go to them. Building relationships and sticking with them until one comes to Christ and is discipled will require a greater degree of intentionality, prayer and perseverance.
    May God help us understand how we should live out the gospel in the midst of the post-Christian culture because the gospel is still, and forever will be, the power of God unto salvation.
    And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter’” – 1 Peter 17:32 (NKJV).

    7/25/2017 8:01:31 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

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