He was hard on them. “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,” He charged, “but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”[1] In some ways, the religious people of Jesus’ day were very clever; they could look at the sky and predict the coming weather. But they had missed the signs alerting them to the spiritual realities quickly coming upon them.

We are much like the Pharisees of the first century in this regard. Signs of the future of spiritual life are everywhere, like roadside billboards, but we don’t always recognize them for what they are.

The Signs of Our Times

So what are the signs of our times? And, perhaps more importantly, what do they indicate for the future of spiritual life in America? Let’s look at the evidence.

Our culture is in a moral tail spin. Take as a single example the evil that is being produced by our culture’s institutions (government, business, sports, and spiritual). Let’s just mention a few names: Enron, Michael Vick, the Cincinnati Bengals, Larry Craig, Catholic Priests, and Ted Haggard. Any of these ring a bell? Why is this an indicator of our nation’s overall morality? Because the institutions are made up of the people.

Not only is our culture failing but so are our churches. According to one expert, 80-85% of churches in America are not growing or are losing members with little hope of revival.[2] Perhaps an even more frightening statistic is this: up to 88% of children raised in conservative Christian homes leave the church after their eighteenth birthday and never come back.[3] One does not have to go far to find a church with no youth, only gray hair and empty pews….

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