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Christianity in Decline in America? Christian Leaders Respond to the Crisis

According to a new Gallup Poll and new Barna Research, Christianity may be in crisis. Several leading Christian leaders offer explanations and solutions.
    NASHVILLE, TX, January 30, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- According to a new Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans believe religion is losing ground in the United States. Likewise, the Barna Research Group, which specializes in researching trends in Christianity, found that half of all Americans now believe Christianity is no longer the country's default religion. With these statistics showing similar trends, how should modern day Christian leaders respond?

Several pioneers of the Christian church recently took on this issue as well as several other subjects in the new leadership series, "Conversations with Fathers of the Faith." In unscripted and candid interviews, leaders from different denominations and faiths voiced their opinions on the challenges that face today's church leadership.

"We've lost our way in terms of not knowing what people died for centuries ago to give us," says Winkie Pratney, author, speaker and youth leader who has worked with Campus Life, Teen Challenge, Operation Mobilization, among others. "We've lost our moorings because we don't know our spiritual heritage. We are fatherless. We have no reference point of anybody we can trust."

"This is probably the most biblically illiterate generation of believers and leaders that I've ever known," offers Henry Blackaby, founder of Blackaby Ministries International and a multi-million-selling author of books such as Experiencing God. "We follow human reasoning and that usually comes from the world [rather than Scripture]. And so we've let the world and the books of the world on leadership convince us of what success is. When God's people are not hearing from God, then everyone does what is right in his own eyes and you have spiritual anarchy and I'm sensing that trend across the Christian community in America."

Lloyd Ogilvie, former Chaplain of the United States Senate and a leader in the Presbyterian denomination says the role of church leadership is key, "I think the basic thrust of the ministry of the pastor and of the local church is to produce disciples. So we need to preach that, we need to teach that, we need to talk about it, all of the elements from personal evangelism to social reformation to confronting the justice issues. All of that needs to be a part of our preaching of the gospel so that people know what we envision for them. You know, without a vision, the people perish and I've studied that word 'perish' in the Hebrew, and it means they just 'stomp around not knowing what to do. They're out of control.'"

Jack Hayford, President of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and founding pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, comments on the changing face of the modern church, "You cannot recreate the church. The church is what it is. You can find awakening and advancing and learning as you go, but what you learn is going to have to end up at a place where you have not denied the ancient. There's hunger for pursuit of the real and the vital and the penetrating and for it to last. It's going to take a certain shaping that will have to occur that has more substance than just the zeal that births it."

Pratney adds, "Young people today need a sense of destiny and you don't get that unless you know where you're coming from. And because of the rootlessness in our culture, it's been my strong conviction kids need to see that the church wasn't invented during the Jesus movement or in the last few weeks or so. It has this long [history]-- it's sometimes stately and seems ponderous-- but when the storms come, people will go back to the things that last and have been there for a long, long time."

The "fathers" participating in the series in addition to Ogilvie, Hayford, Blackaby, and Pratney include: Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a global family of ministries that has reached into every nation; and John Perkins, author and founder of Voice of Calvary ministries and a leader in the civil rights movement.

"Conversations with Fathers of the Faith" is packaged as both a DVD and audio set, complimented by a Leader's Guide and participant journals. The 6-12 week course encourages discussion and aims at life application, specifically focusing on leadership values, truths and principles. Specific topics covered in the course include: Spiritual Health, a Leader's Heart, Leadership Challenges, the Church, Discipleship, and Jesus.

To view video clips from the series and for further information, visit www.FathersoftheFaith.com/dpk.


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