Roll Tide! Since 2009, the University of Alabama has won six national championships with the chance to do it again this coming January. That’s one reason Alabama fans can energetically yell, “Roll Tide!”
Despite the seemingly endless dominance of the Alabama Crimson Tide, there is another tide rolling through this country with eternally more significant consequences. Pew Research released data a few weeks ago that revealed a massive tide sweeping through the United States. Christianity is declining and atheists, agnostics, and the religiously non-affiliated are rising. And just not rising, but rolling through this land like a sweeping tidal wave.
Pew Research notes, “The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing. The latest Pew Research Center survey of the religious composition of the United States finds the religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.”
According to this recent study, Protestant affiliation has dropped 1% point per year over the past 10 years. If this downward trend continues at this pace, we are only a generation or so away from virtually no Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, or Presbyterians—not to mention born-again believers. Gregory Smith, writing for Pew Research, explains, “Overall, both evangelical and non-evangelical Protestants have seen their shares of the population decline as the percentage of U.S. adults who identify with Protestantism has dropped. Today, 24% of U.S. adults describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Protestants, down 6 percentage points since 2007.”
How do we respond to this rolling tide of secularism? Ultimately, our only hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Which means the first, and most important, step to take is prayer. Here are five ways Christians should respond in 2022, beginning with prayer:
- Pray for God’s Power – Since conversion is the work of God, there is nothing more important and essential to slowing the tide of secularism in this country than prayer. E. M. Bounds righty states, “Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.”
- Teach Sound Doctrine – In our secularizing culture, pastors and Bible teachers must remain committed to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Paul’s words are no less true today than 2,000 years ago: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
- Invest in the Next Generation – It seems as if the average age of conversion is lower and lower with each passing generation. If we fail to give our best to the next generation, we may win the battle but we will lose the war. At WBC, we long to see boys and girls become influential followers of Jesus in the church, home, and culture.
- Work towards Strong Friendships – Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, he once quipped that the reason men don’t have friends is because they’ve never had a real one. In our isolated, lonely culture, we need each other more than ever. We are fools to think we will ever successfully stand against the tide of culture—we can’t do this alone!
- Engage the Culture – It’s been said before, “Never waste a crisis.” As evangelicals, let’s use this crisis to renew our commitment to speaking up for Christ instead of claming up out of fear. Trevin Wax puts it well, writing, “The fundamental posture of the Christian should be missionary, not monastic.”
As we look forward to 2022, let’s not despair the rise of secularism and decline of evangelicalism. Jesus promised the gates of hell will not overcome his church! May we assume a counterculture posture and stand against the rolling tide of secularism this new year!
If you are interested in further reading, please see