4 Reasons to Be Excited About the Church in 2024

4 Facts that Give the Church a Reason to Be Grateful and Hopeful in 2024
 
Do you think this will be a good year or bad year for the church?

I think many people are pessimistic about the state of the American Church.  It can be easy to get caught up in negative trends and ideas especially if that is all you hear from media and other sources that celebrate the decline of churches.

Of course, the pandemic affected church attendance, inflation continues to impact tithing and donations, and there seems to be a concerted effort to downplay the importance of faith across the United States.

But that is not the whole story as some would want you to believe.  Several genuinely positive trends have emerged within the Christian community. Now as we start 2024, it’s important to remember that the Church belongs to Jesus and as He told Peter in Matthew 16:18, “not even the gates of Hades will overcome it.”
 
As we start the new year, it’s the perfect moment to pause and be grateful for what God is doing and will continue to do through HIS Church in 2024!

With that said, here are 4 facts that give us a reason to be grateful and look forward with hope this year.
 
Four Need-to-Know Stats for Christians in 2024
 
#1 Christianity continues to grow.
Christianity is by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.6 billion members, nearly a third (31%) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth. Islam is second, with 1.6 billion people, or 23% of the global population. Christianity is also the fastest growing religion in the world adding an estimated 65 million people every year including 15 million who convert from other religions. Here are some amazing examples of the spread of the Gospel:
  • China: In 1949, there were approximately 1.2 million Christians. Despite severe persecution under Communist rule, today there is an estimated 120 million Christians.
  • Latin America: In 1900, there were only 50,000 non-Catholic Christians in Latin America. Now, there are an estimated 114 million.
  • Africa: In 1900, there were 9 million Christians, today there are over 570 million Christians,
  • Of the 20 countries with the fastest growth rate of Christians, 11 are Muslim nations.

In Matthew 28: Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That was over 2000 years ago and we can still see the Gospel spreading today to people all over the world!

But what about in America?
 
#2 Americans Have an Overwhelmingly Positive Opinion of Jesus.
 In May 2023, a Barna report brought some encouraging news for the American Church. The study revealed some interesting statistics: about 70% of Americans surveyed hold a positive view of Jesus, and 63% describe their personal commitment to Jesus Christ as significant. Surprisingly, Millennials are at the forefront of this trend, with 70% affirming the importance of their commitment to Jesus in their lives.

Perhaps what's even more compelling is the consistency of this commitment over time. The percentage of Americans who prioritize their commitment to Jesus has stayed relatively the same over the last 20 years.
 
#3 Millennials are Coming Back to Church.
The relationship between Millennials and the Church has been a complex one. Not too long ago, statistics seemed to indicate this generation was disconnecting from religious life. Millennials, became synonymous with a drifting away from traditional church attendance and engagement. But here’s exciting news: recent research from Barna indicates that Millennials are finding their way back to church congregations!
Since 2019, Millennial church attendance has increased by 18%, and nonwhite Millennials have led the charge. This resurgence of Millennial involvement is more than just a cool statistic; it’s a promising indicator of renewal and continuity within the church community. Millennials are coming back, and they are ready to take on their place in the future of the Church.
 
#4  The Most Unchurched Generation is Also the Most Open to Spirituality.
 This trend presents an exciting, but challenging problem for the modern church. According to a recent Barna study, Gen Z – often labeled as the most unchurched generation – is simultaneously demonstrating a profound openness to spirituality.

Gen Z teens are open to Jesus, open to the Bible, and open to spirituality in general. Unfortunately, they can also be open to false teaching and worldly solutions instead of the truth. But their openness creates a great opportunity for the Church.  A young person recently interviewed by Lifeway expressed it well, “You don’t have to try and make Jesus cool, you just have to show people that He is present.”

The closer you stay to this generation by forging real relationships, the more relevant you become in their eyes. This is the point of the “He gets us” ad campaign about Jesus sponsored by the Servant Foundation.

Yes, it is still a challenging time for churches in America. But then again, when hasn't the Church faced challenges? God has always preserved His Church. This realization is a source of immense hope for us. Our hope stems from gratitude – a gratitude that looks at all of the ways God has moved throughout history and we can trust Him to continue to do this work through His Church.
 
Sources:
  • Wikipedia- Christian growth in the world
  • article by Susanna Fleming in Breeze CMS
  • Lifeway Research
  • Barna Research
  • Christianity Today
  • World Christian Encyclopedia
  • WorldWatch Monitor
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