The numbers of people who are committed Christians—those who are practicing a vibrant faith—are not dying off. That’s a myth that no real researcher believes. However, that does not mean that the Church is not being challenged. It is, and it is being more clearly defined.
Research tells us that Convictional Christians are not leaving the faith. Instead, the “squishy middle,” as I like to call it, is being compressed. At least part of this is because Christians now find themselves more and more on the margins in American society—not persecuted, but no longer central. As such, people are beginning to count the cost.
Indeed, American Christians won’t disappear, but they will increasingly be neighbors with Americans who are more disconnected from organized religion, and from a shared religious memory. Instead of seeing the research as bad news, let’s embrace the challenges before us and step into this new cultural reality with fresh ways to engage the Nones and others around us.