Some of us remember what it was like when Christianity still influenced the culture of North America: when businesses were closed on Sunday, Sunday morning was off-limits to sporting events, the school day began with a word of prayer, and Judeo-Christian values were celebrated in the public square.
The culture of North America has changed drastically, becoming largely post-Christian. These changes have left many Christians feeling discouraged about the prospects for the church.
While we certainly regret the world’s refusal to live as God directs, we need not throw up our hands in despair. The church has known circumstances far more challenging than these, and has not only survived, but thrived. As G. K. Chesterton has observed, “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”
Nor has God taken all this lying down, but continues to manifest Himself. Thanks to immigration, post-Western Christianity is pouring new wine into the old wineskins of a post-Christian West. Most immigrants are Christian and are they are having a positive influence on the churches and societies where they settle.
Even in the post-Christian West, God still moves. Philosopher Charles Taylor speaks of secularists converting to Christianity out of a sense that the present imminent order is deeply flawed and from an awareness of a larger order that makes greater sense of our lives.
A recent survey by the Pew Foundation confirming Taylor’s point found that while fewer affiliate themselves with the organized church, more are experiencing spiritual peace and well-being, as well as wonder about the universe. This is happening among the churched, the “nones,” and even among self-described atheists.
Instead of wringing our hands or whining about the good old days, God wants the church to open itself to what He is doing. We must welcome the new wine of immigration, not as a threat, but a blessing. We must open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit who continues to speak to hearts through prevenient grace. We must step alongside our secular neighbours and help them understand that these unnamed longings have a name, a name above every other.
Those of us preparing the next generation of church leaders must teach our students to greet the post-Christian age with hope. Our hope is not in our techniques, or ourselves but in God’s promise to build His Church. He has not rescinded this promise, or the one that places the keys of the kingdom in the hands of that Church. May God give us the confidence to fit that key into the lock that imprisons the hearts of our post-Christian neighbours.
 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007) 744