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Famed Evangelist's Warning About Why Some Denominations Must 'Wake Up
Luis Palau (Luis Palau Association)

Famed Evangelist's Warning About Why Some Denominations Must 'Wake Up

"I'm never ashamed of preaching about heaven..."

Famed evangelist Luis Palau, whose highly anticipated Christian concert and revival titled, "NY CityFest," is set to unfold in New York City's Central Park on July 11, recently dismissed some atheists' claims that religion is dying, calling it "wishful thinking."

Luis Palau (Luis Palau Association)

"We are so bamboozled by a sliver of people ... who mock Christianity, and if they don't mock it it's cynical," he said, claiming that fears surrounding the Pew Research Center study indicating religious declines can be tempered by examining church history. "When you study church history ...  you get less panicky. You can look at more perspective when you know church history."

Palau, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and moved to the U.S. in 1960, described the First Great Awakening, and recounted how English theologian John Wesley, among others, came and revived the American colonies before their independence, adding that there was a "pretty smooth [faith] ride" after the American Revolution.

But then, he said that there was subsequent a downward trend — a roller coaster pattern that has continued throughout the nation's history.

When the Second Great Awakening rolled around, there was another preacher named Charles Finney, whom Palau described as "fired up"; he had the opportunity to convert many people in the 1830s.

Then, in the 1850s, Palau recounted a prayer revival that unfolded in New York City. It all started when Fulton Street Church noticed a decline in membership, and a local man named Jeremiah Lanpher stepped up to reach out to the public. Soon after, crowds began coming together at noon everyday to pray; it spread like wildfire, with scores of people across the city invoking God every day, as CBN has reported.

"Then came the Civil War ... the Christians were very active in the front lines," Palau said. 

But it didn't take long before church membership was low again around the 1880s, he said. It continued to fluctuate, with cultural chaos unfolding in the 1920s — a decade that Palau called a "crazy party time" that followed World War I. By the mid-century, church membership was back up.

Palau's point? History shows that church attendance and religiosity come in waves. That said, it is certainly true that today's young people are polling as less religiously devout than past generations.

"Though it is very serious, we ought not to panic about it," Palau said, noting that losses have really been more pronounced among theologically liberal denominations. "The churches that have lost all the young people are the ... mainline churches."

He added, "The mainline denominations either wake up or they're dead, they're finished."

Palau, who himself has been heard around the world by an estimated one billion people, implored churches to be sure that they are properly communicating biblical sentiment to youths.

"[Where] we need to be serious, though, is, are we teaching the younger generation — even in evangelical churches — basic biblical doctrine, and do they get the idea that Jesus christ is everything?" he asked. "Is he your life? That is something that we on the inside have to be very careful about."

Palau, himself, knows the impact of learning the gospel at an early age, as he said that he devoted himself to his faith when he was 17 years old and never looked back.

"At 17 and a half I thought, 'No more fooling around,'" he said. "I wanted to commit myself to Christ 100 percent ...  I got serious."

Now, he's devoted to letting people know that "there's a better life" and is encouraging others not to be ashamed of their Christian faith, imploring them to share the message with the world.

"I'm never ashamed of preaching about heaven, because it's the ultimate reality and I want everybody to know heaven and so does the Lord, so I've never been embarrassed or ashamed," he said. "I talk about heaven like you talk about baseball, only far more important."

Palau told TheBlaze that more than 1,750 churches have come together to help make NY CityFest a reality. Find out more about the event, which will include famous Christian music acts and speakers and will take place on the Great Lawn in Central Park here.

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Billy Hallowell

Billy Hallowell

Billy Hallowell is the director of communications and content for PureFlix.com, whose mission is to create God-honoring entertainment that strengthens the faith and values of individuals and families. He's a former senior editor at Faithwire.com and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze. He has contributed to FoxNews.com, The Washington Post, Human Events, The Daily Caller, Mediaite, and The Huffington Post, among other outlets. Visit his website (billyhallowell.com) for more of his work.