Do you know what the world’s fastest growing religion is?
This year, American churches will pour millions of dollars into new programs and services, designed to attract new people to God. They’ll built more extravagant buildings. They will buy radio ads and billboards and build giant sparkly crosses to tell everyone about God. Pastors will try to be more relevant with their messages. They’ll create a better show, broadcast it to more people, collect more money, get more cards signed.
And Christianity in America will continue to lose influence, while Islam continues to be the world’s fastest growing faith. Europe will be 50% Muslim in the coming decades. Islam is fighting with Christianity for supremacy in Africa. Even in America, where anti-Islamic hyperbole flows freely, many are turning to the Islamic faith.
A simple question: why?
Who Has Better PR, Jesus or Allah?
Jesus’ PR team has been, in many ways…lacking. I cringe and shout at my television when Kenneth Copeland or Pat Robertson are on. I know, I’m working on not shouting at my TV so much. But I find it ridiculous that people who I don’t believe represent my Christianity have such a large audience. I don’t think they are good PR for my Jesus, and they are just the tip of the iceberg.
On the other hand, lots of churches are putting on a good PR campaign. They’re trying to be friendly and accepting and tolerant of others.
But…Allah’s PR is a different story. Sure, he doesn’t have phony preachers and scam artists. He’s got terrorists, and public stonings and a whole region that’s engulfed in generations-old violence. I don’t get the sense that Islam is debating how to be tolerant of homosexuals, or of anyone for that matter. They just think homosexuals are evil, along with almost everyone else. Sure, that’s just a small part of Islam, just like Pat and Kenneth are a small part of Christianity. But it sure doesn’t make a good impression. I think Jesus has better PR than Allah.
Yet, somehow, our advertisements and billboards and new-found tolerance are not as attractive as Allah’s PR.
Who Has a More Attractive Church?
I haven’t been to too many Islamic worship services, so I’ll admit to being a layman. But much of Islamic worship looks very much the same to me. If any Christians worshipped the way Muslims do, well, we’d confine it to the 8:00 am service, I’ll put it that way. Islamic worship is much more rote and regulated than the “dynamic” worship and “relevant” preaching of many Christian churches. I don’t know how many “programs” your average Islamic mosque has to keep members “plugged-in,” but my feeling is it’s not as many as an average Christian church.
Yet, somehow, our “dynamic” worship is not as attractive as the Allah’s repetitive, even “dull” worship.
Who’s More Manly?
You know what’s funny? It turns out that many men don’t like to be talked down to by a pastor, or feel like their being scammed out of their money, or feel like they’re being placated with superstitions. Okay, struggling to get men to come to church is nothing new, but churches today aren’t exactly succeeding at it. Meanwhile 75% of people my age and younger will give up on faith by the time they’ve moved back home after college. I look at that number and blame every dad who skipped church, and every church that made church a place for women and children.
Meanwhile, Islam is, let’s face it, a manly faith. They don’t even allow women in the same room with the men at church! The ideas of Islam are just more appealing to men than “taking up your cross,” or being a “bride.”
Maybe Jesus, Perhaps, Doesn’t Come From a Store
It makes me wonder what would happen to the church if, somehow, everything got taken away. No more big buildings or loud music or silver-tongues preachers. All that’s left is just you and me. Could the church actually survive with nothing else but Jesus’ followers?
Of course, you know the answer. The church has done more than survive, it’s thrived with nothing but Jesus and his followers. I can tell you, if everything got taken away, we’d have the biggest mass exodus from the faith that has ever been seen. And then, maybe, we’d be on the same footing as Islam.
There is nothing that I can see that makes Islam more attractive than Christianity. Christian churches seem more attractive. The music is more beautiful, the worship more engaging, the programs more exciting, the deity more loving. Yet, it seems none of that matters. The only thing left when you take all that away is the people. The people of Islam seem to be more attractive to outsiders than the people of Christ.
What do you think? Are all our efforts to attract people a waste, or is there something else I’ve missed? What do you think churches need to do in order to grow again?