Young people are abandoning the church, right?
Christians have the same divorce rate as unbelievers, right?
Prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism are decreasing, right?

If you agreed, you might be encouraged to find that the opposite is actually true. There’s an interview by Ted Olsen in Christianity Today, Sept, 2010 issue, with Bradley Wright who wrote Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told (Bethany House). Mr. Wright is a University of Connecticut sociologist.

I was encouraged to read these quotes by Bradley Wright:
“Not to be glib, but the good news is that most of the bad news is wrong.”
“Take the divorce rate. For years, studies have shown that Christians have lower divorce rates than others. But people aren’t interested.”

Ted Olsen summarized the book by writing, “Young people are not abandoning church. Evangelical beliefs and practices get stronger with more education. Prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism are up. Perceptions about evangelicals have improved dramatically.”

One “downer” is this: Mr Wright said, “If you’re wondering what I was hoping would be good news but wasn’t, it’s race. I thought we were doing better. But white evangelicals have more racially prejudiced attitudes toward African Americans than do white non-evangelical Christians and (especially) white non-Christians.” That is sad!

Reading the article prompted me to think that so often when we hear supposedly bad news like ‘young people are abandoning the church,’ we become discouraged, wondering if God is really working. Of course, we don’t need to make such a conclusion because God is always working. He never stops.

The final comment by Mr. Wright is, “These fear messages demoralize people, hinder the message of the church, and hide real problems.”

Let’s not contribute to that most unfortunate perspective.