In 2019, Christianity is well-placed to continue its mission of spreading God’s love to the people of the world. Many new trends are shaping the religion as a whole. Geographic, cultural, and political shifts have changed the fortunes of many churches and religious people.
Religious people may be dismayed by the cultural changes in Europe and the United States. However, there is a groundswell of support for the church coming from the Global South. Lauren Naylor, a nursing student from Texas Christian University, describes the changes occurring in Christianity throughout the world.
A More Secular Lifestyle
In the United States, many religious communities are diminishing, and some have closed completely due to a lack of worshipers. The number of people who consider themselves to be non-religious is skyrocketing. Some believe that people have moved away from living by the church’s teachings. Church communities have dwindled in the same manner as other community organizations.
Growth in Global Christianity
While the United States is losing churchgoing people, the world as a whole is gaining. The world is more religious than it was twenty years ago, with people converting from other religions or beginning a Christian faith practice on their own. Christianity is spreading its special messages of love, strong values, and a focus on helping the disadvantaged.
Over the past fifty years, the Christian church has begun to shift away from a Western religion as it spreads into Africa and Asia. Christianity originated in Asia, and the European ideals that fostered its growth since the Enlightenment have been replaced by newer concepts.
In today’s shifting landscape, more independent churches are being formed. Without obligations to a central organization, these churches can espouse whatever social and cultural principles they choose. These churches are also more adaptable, letting them minister to their people with a personalized touch.
Some churches are experiencing problems due to their global reach. In large conferences, churches may have difficulty finding common ground. The United Methodists have experienced this problem, where the priorities of the American church are different than those of the associated congregations around the world.
One way that congregations in technologically advanced areas are reaching more people is by conducting more of their services and activities online. Today, people do not restrict any type of activity depending on the day or time. They can shop or socialize whenever they like. Moving churches toward this model may help them to retain more worshipers.
One of the most damaging circumstances involving Christianity is the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. This has eroded its global standing and caused many people to leave the church. To stay ahead of these problems, churches need to make sure that their pastors and employees have the parishioners’ best interests in mind. They also need to be transparent if a problem occurs and avoid the appearance of a cover-up.
Keeping Up with Social Changes
Churches need to balance the realities of living in a socially changing world with their own deeply held principles. Not every church is right for every worshiper, and people need to be ready to examine their own beliefs if they find themselves in conflict with their religious institution. Leaving this up to the individual worshiper’s conscience is best.
Christianity’s Global Standing
While it may seem that Christianity is diminishing, it is growing in new countries and areas of the world. Africa, in particular, has seen several converts to Christianity. Churches in developed nations need to be aware of the needs of these far-flung members and to respect their independence. Lauren Naylor encourages every churchgoing person to make sure that their own values are not compromised by their choice of worship.