MTP 9: “Really?!”

“Really?!”, I said to myself, when a friend told me this: Columbia – our capital city – is in the top 100 of what are called “Post-Christian” cities.  Columbia is number 88.  To put that in some perspective, there about 4000 cities in the United States that meet the definition of a “City”, according to population size and incorporation.

I couldn’t bring myself to believe that statistic: Isn’t this the Bible belt?  The Southeast?  A state planted thick with churches?

“Post-Christian” people meet at least 9 of the following 16 characteristics:

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

I remember hearing Governor McMaster say something like this, at the South Carolina State Prayer Breakfast: South Carolina has the most churches per square mile of any state in our country.

If that’s true, then what’s going on?

If that’s true, then why start a new church?

Dr. C. Peter Wagner offered this answer to those questions: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”

If we translate that answer to our context, we can put it this way: A state with so many churches, does not guarantee a state full of disciples.  Or, think of it this way: Just because there’s a health food store on almost every corner, doesn’t mean that everyone’s eating healthy.

If Columbia, and Irmo and Dutch Fork, fit this Post-Christian bill, and are moving up the list of the top 100 Post-Christian cities, then going on offense is key – then becoming equipped to advance God’s Kingdom, is crucial in our generation.

So this is the shift we need to make in our thinking: When we start a new church, we are not setting up another religious shop that we hope Christian customers will frequent.

When we start a new church, we are responding to a clear Word from the Lord, that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2) – that many people in our cities, are trying to build their lives on a foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) other than Jesus Christ, and we are called to invite them to build their lives on the Rock – Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24).