. . . Here is the situation...and we all see it. Our Culture, which was once a place that worked with the church, is actually working against it! It is literally pushing the Christian faith aside. The Pew Research Center recently published some sobering findings: the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christian is down another 12% in the last ten years. And the number of adults who say they have no faith is up about 10%.
The bottom line is this: There are fewer people at-tending fewer churches fewer times a month.
I have seen this coming for a long time. Haven't you? Two significant forces are pushing against the Church and the message of Jesus Christ. First, secularism brings the misguided belief that physical pleasure and material things are all that matter. And second, skepticism brings doubt about our need for Christ as Savior, or the need for any savior at all!
This means our Gospel opportunities at this time in history are incredible. I am more energized now about the mission of the Anglican Church in North America than I have ever been. When I see the darkness that is around us, it makes it easier to see those who are standout lights of hope and inspiration in our own Church.
I see heroes of the faith living and sharing the Gospel in these difficult times. The advance of the Gospel might be set back here and there, but it will never be stopped. Remember what Jesus said, that even the Gates of Hell would not prevail against his Church.
It is wonderful to see standout stories and heroes around the church. There are signs of hope everywhere. Here are a few:
I attended the New Wineskins Conference where there were over 1,200 missionaries and mission-minded Anglicans in attendance. I was greatly in-spired by so many stories of amazing, sacrificial, and heroic Gospel ministry all over the world. This was another HUGE sign of Hope.
And not only are dozens of church planters being sent out across our Province in new mission fields, our historic churches are stepping into the work of church planting as well. In the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, for example, historic St. Helena's, Beaufort, itself started in 1712, is now planting two new churches in neighboring areas. They are fighting the good fight and making an impact for the gospel. I see signs of Hope all around.
I am sure that you have your own stories to tell about the people who are heroic lights shining in the dark-ness. The Apostle Paul reminds us about this in his Letter to the Philippians where he also faced a 'crooked and twisted' generation as we do, and he called upon the followers of Jesus to shine as lights in the world of darkness (Phil. 2:15).
The Good News of the Gospel always shines in the darkness! Even as the days are harder and darker, the Gospel can shine all the more brightly, bringing God's grace and light to many in need.
Archbishop Foley Beach