One week ago, I
met with an old friend who was born in America but who has spent almost all of his
life in Italy. He was struck by how openly and boldly the gospel was proclaimed
here in the States, from massive billboards on the roadside to Christian radio
A few days
later, I met with a young man from the Faroe Islands, now studying in Denmark,
and wanting to do pro-life work in his home country and beyond. He flew to
America to meet with pro-life leaders for input and example, since there was
virtually no such movement where he lived.
visitors, one 49, with decades of experience on the mission field in Italy, and
the other 24, now in medical school with a strong Christian conscience, the
Church of America was inspiring in many ways.
My Italian friend, Grant, is a popular Italian actor who now uses his public platform to share the gospel on TV and in other settings. But he has also spent many years sharing the gospel on the streets of Italy with his father’s missions’ team.
He can tell you
firsthand that, while there is a lot of traditional religion embedded in the
culture, there is very little open gospel witness. Having been to Italy 27
times myself, I can confirm this.
Of course, Grant
is more than aware of the carnality and the superficiality of so much of our American
Christianity. Yet on his most recent visit, which was much longer than usual,
he was struck afresh by how openly and boldly the gospel is proclaimed here.
It’s the same
with American patriotism. Visitors from other nations are surprised to see
American flags everywhere. They are also surprised to see so much Christianity openly
displayed and proclaimed.
The young man
visiting from Denmark told us that the last pro-life march there drew 30 people.
Yes, 30, in a country of 5 million. There were actually more counter-protestors
at the march than pro-lifers.
Yet an official
Danish website notes that, “In Denmark, 75% of the population are registered members of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church.”
How can this be?
The website continues, “But less than a fifth of Danes see themselves as ‘very
still, “Christianity has shaped Denmark’s culture, and the Danish countryside
remains dotted with traditional churches. Most Danish cities offer a range of
churches that include the Lutheran Evangelical state church as well as Catholic
and Pentecostal congregations. However, few Danes go to church on a regular
basis. In fact, many go only once a year – usually on Christmas Eve.”
surprising, then, that Operation World claims that 85
percent of Danes profess Christianity (in this overwhelmingly Protestant
country) but only 3.5 percent are evangelicals. Little wonder they are having
so little impact, especially in a country that can view committed Christians as fanatical.
it comes to Italy, Operation World claims that 82
percent of Italians profess Christianity (in this overwhelmingly Catholic
country) but only 1.1 percent are evangelicals.
That’s why it is
not surprising that the Catholic News Agency reported last year that, “Italy’s fledgling pro-life movement finds inspiration in US
And that’s why
it is not surprising that while there are roughly 2,500 pregnancy crisis
centers in America, there are none in Denmark. Not one.
In fact, focusing
on America, a strongly pro-abortion article on the Mother Jones website reports that “crisis pregnancy centers now outnumber abortion clinics. There are an
estimated 2,300 to 3,500 CPCs currently operating in the US while there are
only 1,800 abortion clinics.”
It was for good
reason that candidate Donald Trump said to 1,000 evangelical leaders in 2016, “You’re the most powerful group in the
country, but you have to band together.”
So, the good
news is that the Church in America is much more bold and open and socially
active than the Church in most other countries. In many ways, we still are the
conscience of the nation. We still push back.
We still speak
out against radical LGBT activism. And against the “Shout Your Abortion”
movement. And against the assault on family and freedom – among many other
The bad news is
that, with roughly 90-100 million evangelicals in America (or
more), not to mention conservative Catholics and others, only a small
percentage of that population is active and involved.
How many of us
are actually doing something to save the lives of the unborn? Or to provide
help for those who have been born? Or to push back against LGBT activism? Or to
stand against societal injustice?
The bad news,
then, is that there is a lot of superficiality and even hypocrisy in our midst.
The good news is
that the flame is still burning brightly in many of our hearts.
The best news is
that if, as followers of Jesus, we would simply practice what we preach and
live out our faith, the nation would be shaken overnight.
At this point,
the famous Nike slogan comes to mind, and I believe it speaks directly to us
today as American believers: Just do it!
Church of America, now is the time to rise and shine.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Playing with Holy Fire: A Wake-up Call to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Church. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.