Could Christianity become extinct?

18 Aug

“Christianity is always one generation from extinction.” I heard that statement somewhere during my educational odyssey. Until recently, I merely took it as a pessimist sounding a doomsday warning.

DSC_0088I recently stood in front of a monument at Northfield Mount Hermon that commemorated the birth of the Student Volunteer Movement. In the summer of 1886, 251 students gathered at Mount Hermon for a four-week student conference. D. L. Moody presided over the gathering and the students heard ministers and seminary professors preach and teach. By the end of the summer, 100 students had committed themselves to the cause of world evangelization.

As our group stood in front of the monument, we discussed the Haystack Prayer Meeting that took place a few miles south in Willamstown, MA, in August 1806. Five students from Williams College took shelter under a haystack during a thunderstorm. While there, they prayed about world missions. Many scholars look back at that prayer meeting as the seminal event in the development of Protestant world missions.

A few miles further south in Northampton, MA, Jonathan Edwards led The Great Awakening in 1731. A few more miles to the south in Enfield, CT, you find the place where Edwards preached his most famous sermon, “Sinners in the hand of angry God.”

New England, specifically Massachusetts, was the location of some of the greatest events in evangelical history in North America. And yet today, we are within a short drive of five of the ten cities on the list of the least Bible minded cities.

As I contemplated this trend, I was reminded of Judges 2:7–10.

And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Read through the book of Joshua and you quickly realize miracles were a part of his life. The generation after him knew the stories. But the third generation did not know God or the stories. The knowledge of God disappeared within two generations of a great Christian leader.

The task of every generation must be to passionately declare the greatness of God and the free gift of salvation. If we breathe a sigh of relief and start to coast, if we are content that our families are saved, but we stop telling others about Jesus, then yes, Christianity could become extinct. It happened in the book of Judges. It happened in New England. It’s time to reverse the trend.


Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Ministry, Personal growth, Photos, Prayer, Scripture


4 responses to “Could Christianity become extinct?

  1. Liz

    August 18, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I wonder if you are aware that God is once again working in Northfield, Massachusetts. On the now vacant Northfield campus that abuts Moody’s birth place and burial ground is the meeting place for Community Bible Church, a church that has been in existence since the 60’s. Three years ago it began to outgrow the one-room schoolhouse where it had met for 45 years, and now space is rented on the Northfield campus. The church is still small in number; growth continues to be slow, but there are many encouraging evidences of God’s working in our midst.

    In the very recent past the C. S. Lewis Foundation has bought one of the old Victorian homes that used to be a part of the campus. Their ministry there has not yet come to fruition, but they are still working to that end. There are also other Christian groups that are vitally interested in seeing the work of God go forward in Northfield, but purchasing those beautiful buildings that now stand empty holds particularly unique challenges. You may be aware of Hobby Lobby’s recent efforts to give away that campus to any Christian organization. They couldn’t give it away.

    The pastor of the church, which now rents on the campus, is Bob Emberley (whom you can hear on Sermon Audio). And, by the way, his wife is a cousin to Doug Dolbow in your church. When you pray for the Gospel preaching to be restored to Massachusetts, please pray for Community Bible Church in Northfield. God is at work.

    • wheelsms

      August 18, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Hi Liz, Thanks for your comment. I was in Northfield yesterday. Our group toured D. L. Moody’s birthplace, burial site, and museum, as well as the Northfield campus and Northfield Mount Hermon. David Powell and Julia (?) shared about what God was doing in the area. Both shared their passion to see the gospel proclaimed and people grow in their faith. It was exciting and encouraging to hear that God is on the move in that area. Thanks again.

  2. Lisa G

    August 18, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Great post. This would make a great article for the “religion” section of our local paper. Sadly I don’t think they have that section any more. That in itself confirms your point!

    • wheelsms

      August 18, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Thanks, Lisa.


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