The U.S. Church Has Become INVISIBLE!

New Research:
The U.S. Church Has
Yet multitudes of young people show
a growing hunger for more of Christ!
David Bryant
Invisible? Really? Does it seem that way to you?
After all, every day, we hear on the news about the very visible involvement of the “Christian right” and “white evangelicals” in current hotly contested political struggles.
But in terms of the overall impact American Christianity is having on fellow citizens and our whole culture, are God’s people really making any measurable difference these days in advancing the saving mission of God’s Son?
Apart from the public attention (often negative) grabbed by Christians and Christian organizations engaged in the 2024 presidential fray, many observers conclude that the Church as a whole has become “out of sight, out of mind” in this land.
The tragedy is that at the very same moment many Americans appear to be searching for spiritual reality and authenticity. This phenomenon is seen especially visible among a host of GenZers!
Let’s examine the findings more closely to discover how we got here and what to do about it.
More on the Insights From Dr. George Barna
In an article in The Christian Post by Leah M. Klett titled “George Barna identifies biggest threats facing the Church: ‘We’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility,’” we learn that Barna has watched key negative trends increasingly permeate Western Christianity for some time.
Barna notes:
People have become more selfish, churches have become less influential, pastors have become less Bible-centric. Families have invested less of their time and energy in spiritual growth, particularly of their children.
The media now influences the Church more than the Church influences the media, or the culture for that matter. The Christian Body tends to get off track arguing about a lot of things that really don’t matter.
Barna warns especially about how the Church now measures its success—by attendance, fundraising, infrastructure, and political clout—while, for all practical purposes, neglecting Jesus Christ and what his mission is all about.
If we were to go back to the Bible, I think we’d recognize the local church, the institutional church, as we’ve created it, is man-made. It’s not in the Scriptures.
The programs, the titles, the buildings, all the stuff that has become sacrosanct in American culture and around the world is not necessarily biblical.
Jesus didn’t come to build institutions; He came to build people.
Leah Klett concludes her interview quoting this sobering prediction from this leading evangelical diagnostician of American Christianity:
The Church is at a critical juncture . . . All the other stuff is noise . . . This is our moment.
We’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility in our culture.
. . . So, this is our moment. We either will put up or shut up. And I would suggest that we put up (emphasis added).
And Just When Opportunity Is Knocking!
What is even more tragic about the “invisibility” of God’s people and our witness in our nation at this hour is that it comes at a time when additional research reveals a major open door for the gospel! It’s found among GenZers (roughly ages 11-26).
Just out from Barna Group—the national polling and research organization George Barna founded and led for thirty years—comes this amazing recent discovery:
This next generation is extremely spiritually open, and their views of Jesus are largely positive.
In fact, nearly half of U.S. teens say Jesus offers hope to the world, cares about people and is trustworthy (47% each). Another 77 percent are motivated to continue learning about Jesus throughout their life.
This generation, the future of the Church, is open and curious to learn more about Christ.
Now is a good time to evaluate how your church and Christian community are connecting with and discipling Gen Z (emphasis theirs).
In addition, other findings by other researchers reveal that the majority of Americans—even those now defined as “nones” because they have no religious affiliation—have a strong desire for some kind of spiritual reality in their lives. The “Christ” they may be currently avoiding is often a caricature of the biblical Jesus.
This means there remains an openness to the REAL Jesus and a relationship with him IF God’s people will first deal with the “invisibility” of their own experience of the living Savior and then unleash a convincing witness for Jesus to unbelievers by both words and deeds.
The Church’s Greatest Threat Today:
The “Invisibility” of Christ Among Us
Let me ask you: How much do Christians where you worship actually talk about God’s Son to one another?
After over 40 years of itinerating into various parts of the Body of Christ across America, I must admit that too often, my own shocking discovery is how rarely our Savior is mentioned in the normal course of the shared life of God’s people.
For example, I’ve participated in half-hour worship sessions more than once where (unintended, I’m sure) specific references to our Savior were virtually absent in the choruses we sang.
More than once, I’ve listened to widely respected preachers deliver biblically grounded messages that barely referenced our Lord Jesus, let alone brought the congregation to bow at the feet of their King.
More than once, I’ve monitored the between-session conversations of delegates at major Christian conventions, hoping for even a hint that God’s Son was somehow vital to their discussions, only to be disappointed time and time again.
Let’s get candid here: Sunday after Sunday, how much of the general conversation in our churches actually honors Jesus in a manner comparable to how Paul talked? How often do we say to each other words like: “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1)? Or “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we might present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1)? Or again, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2)?
In our times of fellowship, do we seek to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10), which Scripture says is the key to the Church becoming vital in our life in Christ and our witness for him?
Recall for a moment a recent exchange you had with a fellow believer. Taking a cue from (and using phrases from) 1 John 1:
  • Did your time together give both of you, to any degree, a greater vision of the glory of Jesus as “the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us”?
  • Did you try in any direct way to encourage each other with “what we have seen and heard” of Christ?
  • Was there at any point a shared effort to help each other enter into deeper “fellowship with the Father and with his Son” and, thus, have your joy “made complete”?
If your experience was like most of mine, probably not.
Too many of us, I’m afraid, have become comfortable simply conversing about benign concepts of God. We allow ourselves to sidestep deeper explorations of and encounters with Jesus in the fullness of who he is today as our risen, reigning Lord and Redeemer.
We talk around Jesus rather than about Jesus.
Yet, there’s no getting around the fundamental principle of Romans 10:17: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” This process is as equally true of believers—in some ways even more so—as it is of unbelievers.
What Christians hear about their Savior from one another, as a steady diet, determines a good deal of the depth of hope and passion they express toward him—and consequently about him to the non-Christian community.
It’s time to seriously ask ourselves, individually and corporately: How visible to us as believers is our Master’s presence and work among us, let alone to outsiders?
That’s why Paul challenged the Christians gathered in Corinth (and challenges all of us as well):
“Test yourselves! Do you not know that Jesus Christ is among you—unless you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13).
That’s why during America’s first “Great Awakening” in the early 1700s, Christians talked about how they were experiencing “the manifest presence of Christ.” They meant that essentially, God’s Son had previously been treated as peripheral to their life together. However, in their God-given revival, the Holy Spirit brought them back to the Lord Jesus Christ, making him again front and center among them—and even more so, supreme and reigning among them.
In turn, because Jesus became exceedingly “visible” to his people once again, the impact of that great (what I would call) “Christ Awakening” on many throughout the colonies was truly transformative. Jesus became “real” to those who had been sitting in darkness.
Our “Crisis of Christology”:
We Must Confront and Cure It Now!
Those who have followed the eight-year journey of CHRIST NOW know that one of our main objectives is to alert the Church, especially in America, to the sobering shortfall in how we see, seek, savor, and speak about God’s Son for ALL that he is.
We call it a crisis for the same reason Barna calls it a threat. The “invisibility” of the Lord Jesus among his own people is why our rapidly secularizing nation considers him either irrelevant or, maybe worse, a form of pragmatic ornament to enhance whatever may be the current cause, political or otherwise.
Therefore, for almost a decade, CHRIST NOW has been calling for an “American CHRIST Awakening.” Our mission is to help make our Lord more visible by waking up believers to Jesus Christ for ALL he is.
Thus, we’ve been developing a vast variety of free resources and tools to help manifest the greatness and glory of Jesus to those who come to us. All of it has been designed to foster and fuel a nationwide Christ Awakening within every stream of the Church.
Additionally, we have created free resources that Christians can use with fellow Jesus followers or within congregations to help them work together to exalt the name of Jesus, spread the fame of Jesus, intensify the reign of Jesus, and increase the gain of Jesus among us. We are convinced that as Jesus becomes far more visible, tangible, and essential among us, he will become increasingly conspicuous, unavoidable, compelling, and personally life-giving through us.
But whether you use our free materials or not—our social media, podcasts, vlogs, videos, books, online video training, or online live seminars—without a doubt, all serious Christians in America must sense the urgency to become exceedingly zealous in reversing the crisis of the “invisible” King among us.
This cure is not only for our sakes; it is for the sake of a nation that is right now in a desperate spiritual and moral disintegration taking place on many sides.
And yet, it is also a nation in which a multitude—including millions of GenZers—have hearts, it appears, that the Spirit is keeping open and ready to see Jesus in us, then hear Jesus from us, and finally join Jesus with us.
This is our prayer: May the Church in America soon experience a widespread Christ Awakening movement that is nothing short of a daily replication of the experience of those Emmaus disciples who encountered Jesus on the road from Jerusalem on our Lord’s resurrection day:
At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. . . . Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?” (Luke 24, The Message)
Follow up this blog post by watching
this 67-second video clip HERE.

About the Author

Over the past 50 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ Awakening movements. Download his widely read ebooks at Enjoy hundreds of podcast episodes. Watch his weekly vlogs at David Bryant REPORTS. Meet with David through Zoom or in-person events through David Bryant LIVE!


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