In an interesting article published in the Christian Science Monitor, Michael Spencer argues that within the next 10 years there will be a major collapse of Evangelical Christianity. Spencer, who describes himself as a “postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality” says:
“Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.”
“I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches.”
“We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.”
“We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.”
This article is a distillation of a more thorough series of posts on the Evangelical Collapse on his blog, where he clarifies that:
“I clearly said that evangelicalism was going to suffer a collapse, not at all meaning it would die. I said that HALF of evangelicals would be something else within 2-3 generations/10-20 years.”
Spencer’s is careful to state that he is not a prophet and that his prognostications may be wrong. But if he is right, the shifting religious landscape may be a great opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to recent statistics about religion in America by the Pew Forum, 26% of Americans identify themselves as Evangelical. If, as he predicts, 50% of evangelicals will be something else in the next 10 – 20 years, that’s approximately 39,000,000 people who will be something other than Evangelical over the next two decades.
Spencer believes that a number will go to Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox church.
We should make sure that they all have the opportunity to consider the Church of Jesus Christ during their religious flux. The terrible calumnies about the church widely believed among evangelicals will still be hard to overcome, but while they are re-evaluating their own beliefs, they may be more open than in the past.