Bannockburn, IL (PressExposure) February 09, 2011 -- Christianity in America is on the decline, a new study from pollster George Barna reports. However, the leader of one of the nations leading evangelistic ministries, who witnessed firsthand a similar decline overseas in the U.K., says that a resurgence may be on the horizon.
According to the latest Barna study, Christians in the U.S. are less biblically literate, more fearful about sharing their faith and less influential in society than ever before.
But Gerard Long, a former banking executive from London who moved to the states in 2001 and now leads the Christian ministry Alpha USA, explains: The research that has come out from Barna says that people are losing hope and purpose in the church, and yet the evidence were seeing is that Alpha is helping to reverse that decline happening across the church. Last year, more than 200,000 people attended the Alpha course in more than 4,300 churches, with an estimated 100,000 making commitments to Jesus Christ.
Long calls Alpha one of the best kept secrets in the church, noting that congregations who use the Alpha course in a holistic way are seeing significant growth in the areas of discipleship, leadership and giving.
Not only is it leading to more disciples, its leading to development of leaders within churches, he adds. Weve actually seen people coming out of drugs and then a few years later taking up significant leadership positions in the church. Its that transformative.
Long adds that when people are transformed, their whole worldview changes, which includes giving. Alpha USA estimates that every 100 new believers added to a church running the Alpha course results in more than $67,000 per year in additional giving.
Alpha is also helping to combat the theological decline Barna observed, while at the same time addressing the fear many Christians have about sharing their faith.
Long explains, Because the Alpha course is based around relationships and discussion, it opens up the door for sharing. Its also incredibly practical and deals with questions such as: How do you develop a relationship with Christ? What does it mean to read the Bible? How do you pray? It teaches solid theology but turns it into practical application for our everyday lives.
Long observed firsthand a similar decline in the U.K. decades ago. He points to a study by the British number-crunching group Christian Research, which has declared that the Christian decline has finally stalled there. Experts note that this is due in part to Alphas ongoing work in that country. (Londons Holy Trinity Brompton church is the birthplace of the Alpha course, which is now run in 169 countries worldwide.)
I saw personally many Christian churches closing and turning into theaters and apartments, Long remembers. If the Alpha course can help stop the decline there, it can certainly make a difference here in the U.S. where it isnt nearly as pronounced.
He concludes, We believe that God has given us Alpha as a tool to get the church back to what Jesus had originally instructed us to do. We want to see the church as it was in the early days in the book Acts - transforming the world.
About the Alpha Course
More than 2 million people across the U.S. have taken the Alpha course, which is held at 4,300 churches nationwide. The course is conducted over 10 weeks and is free and open to everyone. No question is out of bounds, and participants are encouraged to say as much or as little as they wish as they make up their own minds about the claims of Christ in a pressure-free environment. To learn more about how Alpha can help your church to reach your community and transform your congregation, visit http://www.alphausa.org.
For more information or interviews with Alpha USA president Gerard Long, contact Robert Andrescik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-923-4440.