Rise and Fall of Churches (July 24, 2022)

There was a time when there were no Christians on the American continents. In the first centuries after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the church was centered around Jerusalem. Since Christianity is essentially the fulfillment of Judaism, it makes sense that the first Christians were in Israel and the surrounding area.

As the apostles began to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, the size of God’s kingdom on earth grew rapidly. Before long, the “home” of Christianity seemed to be in Rome, where it would remain for centuries. Even in Luther’s day, the greatest concentration of Christians was in Europe. This was in large part due to the conversion of Constantine in 312 AD.

Though it took time, eventually Christianity was the official religion of the empire. From Otto I in 962 until well after the Reformation in the mid 1500’s, people were assumed to be Christian. Churches and cathedrals were built of great magnitude and expense.

As the New World (the Americas) was colonized and its population exploded, some argue that Christianity would find its home there, even as Europeans turned away from the church, leaving magnificent church buildings empty.

Now, as more people buy in to philosophical worldviews antithetical to Christianity (not just atheism or agnosticism, but socialism, wokism, secular humanism, and the like) in the Western World, Christianity seems to be more at home on the continent of Africa, where churches are growing at an alarming rate. At the same time, American churches are reflecting the demise of European churches, often giving up Biblical principles to become more attractive to the new worldviews.

Though churches and denominations rise and fall, one thing is certain. The Word of the Lord endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). The gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church (Matthew 16:18). God always preserves a remnant (Romans 11), though where to find that remnant may change.

Why is this important? Church membership is declining throughout America, across denominational lines. Though churches may get smaller, God remains faithful to those who trust in Him. Times may get tough as persecution increases, but the Lord is faithful to His promises. He will never leave you nor forsake you: Christ is for you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His mercies never end.