For the 1st time in US history, the church in the South is shrinking

Guest Blogger: Mike McDaniel, Director of SendRDU

“Contextualizing the Gospel in the New South.” That’s the title for this year’s Advance Conference, April 26-27 in RDU. Last year we called for a resurgence of the local church. This year we’re focusing on the major issues that are standing in the way of that happening here in the South.

The South is changing. Urbanization and the vibrant growth of our cities have transformed the cultural landscape. Cities like RDU have become new centers of business and education, places where culture is being formed and made. And yet as our cities are advancing, the church is shrinking. For the first time in its history, the church in the South is declining at a rate faster than anywhere else in the country.

See for yourself. This map shows you where evangelical Christianity is growing in the U.S. (Pink indicates growth. Blue indicates decline).

Where the church is shrinking/growing in the U.S.

Where the church is shrinking/growing in the U.S.

And this isn’t just a problem in the cities, either. These changes are felt in small towns, where small town southern values are clashing with new urban postmodernity, and religion is often more prevalent than the gospel. There may be churches on every corner, but most are plateaued or declining to the point where they will be empty in 20 years.

As we stand at this critical turning point, we must be prepared to respond. We believe that the decline of the church is not due to external factors, but internal failures of the church to faithfully communicate the Gospel and engage the changing culture around us. That is the vision behind the title Contextualizing the Gospel in the New South. We want to equip pastors, lay leaders, and members to respond by engaging the changing culture of the South with the unchanging message of the gospel.

This year we’ve moved the conference to the Summit to be able to offer it the cheapest price possible. Right NOW you can get tickets for a ridiculously cheap early bird rate of $50.

Speakers include: Mark Driscoll, Ed Stetzer, Johnny Hunt, David Platt, Tullian Tchividjian, Matt Carter, J.D. Greear, et al

You can register at www.advancethechurch.com.

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