Trend lines and unshakeable hope

Photo by Blake Sherman from unsplash.com. Photo by Blake Sherman from unsplash.com.

In this issue, ­associate editor Tim Huber takes a deep dive into Mennonite Church USA’s denominational survey and lays out its findings, strengths and weaknesses according to denominational leadership and professional researchers. 

In the article after that, Religion News Service ­writer Bob Smietana outlines the trend of declining numbers of self-identifying Christians in the United States.

For many, the downward trend might not be surprising; this has been a national story for some time now. For others, the article might be alarming. If that is the case, I’d like to remind us of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 19:40. 

As Jesus enters Jerusalem and his followers throw their cloaks on the road before him, the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke the crowd. People were shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus turned to the Pharisees and said, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 

Jesus is finally accepting the title of king, even though he looks nothing like the kings of that time or any time. He is making his way toward Jerusalem and his death. 

Among other things, he is telling the Pharisees that his rule does not thrive or die because of any one of his followers: “Even if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 

I find these words comforting when I think about shrinking churches and declining numbers of Christians. Surveys can tell us many useful things, but they shouldn’t have the power to shake our hope for God’s kingdom. The disciples thought Jesus’ death on the cross was the end, but we know what happened next. 

If Christianity went all but dead in the United States, what stone would be rolled away next?  

I trust that on our pages you will always find hope, even when the news of the day looks dark.

On the back cover you will see our annual Christmas gift subscription offer. If you have friends or family who aren’t subscribers yet, please consider this opportunity to introduce them to Anabaptist World. As you’ve heard from me before, subscriptions are an important part of sustaining AW’s unique ministry. Giving a year’s subscription is not only a gift for your loved ones but also for our team at Anabaptist World. 

Danielle Klotz

Danielle Klotz is executive director of Anabaptist World. She lives in Goshen Indiana with her partner Nata and their sons Read More

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!