SEVENTY PERCENT or more of all Americans held Church membership through 1976. (Gallup Poll, April 2019)
Pew Research Center reported that 37% of all Americans attended church on a weekly basis in 2013.
Gallup estimates the once-a-week church attendance of the Americans in 2018, at between 20% and 39%.
Church membership in the U.S. is in sharp decline, even among professing Christians. Roughly one in four U.S. adults are “religious” but not members of a church.
Americans are losing confidence in the institution of organized religion, according to Gallup, and church attendance and membership reflects this attitude.
A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center shows that churchgoers rate three intangibles as reasons for attending church regularly: to become closer to God, to become a better person, and for comfort in times of trouble and sorrow, along with providing a moral foundation for children. Hearing valuable sermons comes in just below, in fifth place.
From an article on Churchleaders.com, Ed Stetzer, missiologist and director of the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board (namb.net) of the Southern Baptist Convention, has found a growing trend of spiritual activity and growth occurring outside church walls.
He recently finished a study on alternative faith communities, and found that a growing number of people are finding Christian discipleship and community in places other than their local churches.
The study found that 24.5 percent of Americans now say their primary form of spiritual nourishment is meeting with a small group of 20 or less people every week.
“About 6 million Christians meet weekly with a small group and never or rarely go to church,” Stetzer says. “There is a significant movement happening.”
Stetzer agrees and adds that because today’s large churches emphasize small groups and community, hoping to create a small-church feel, they try to offer the best of both worlds. There are multiple expectations on mid-sized churches that they can’t meet—programs, dynamic music, quality youth ministries.”
“As a result”, Stezter goes on to say, “We’ve created a church-consumer culture”.
Frances Chan, pastor and author, in a Verge Network video, “We are Church”, repeats from a familiar source, that consumerism in the church is “like pastoral malpractice and such churches are actually ruining people by making them consumers”.
An excerpt from a book, “Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the selling of the American Soul” by
G. Jeffrey MacDonald, says “After twenty years in ministry and a track record of celebrated accomplishments, pastor Walt Kallestad went before his gathered flock and tearfully repented. On his watch, he said, the church had become a “dispenser of religious goods and services.“ ( https://whitestone2014.com/consumerism-in-the-church )
Pastor David Anderson, senior pastor and founder of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Md., has consulted with church leaders nationwide. He has observed that mid-sized congregations tend to lose the evangelistic focus they once had, and instead adopt what he calls “a club mentality.”
Perhaps most telling is the fact that from 2000 to 2004, a net gain of 13,024 churches was necessary to keep up with the U.S. population growth. In reality the church incurred a deficit of almost 10,000 churches.
This gap is a serious one for Christianity in America. Research and studies show that church plants are the most effective means of evangelism and church growth. “More evangelism happens through church planting than through mega-churches,” Anderson says.
The conundrum is that many Christians, who have stopped attending Church, are slow to take the necessary steps to find a solution. Many of these folks feel like they have been “jilted” by the traditional church, and they carry those feelings and the expectation that it can happen again, wherever they go.
They are wary about going to church; then they become cautious before attending another Church or a smaller group. When these attitudes are fostered over time, they can lead to cynicism and distrust. Once that occurs, getting themselves back into any kind of an organized Christian Fellowship, is difficult.
These are the alarming statistics. So, guard your heart and mind against wariness, cynicism and distrust. Don’t become a statistic.
Remind yourself that “WE are the Body of Christ and that WE, ARE THE CHURCH”.
Before you find yourself a “recovering Christian”, consider being in close Fellowship with other Believers, following Jesus and Doing the very Works of Christ.
1. Don’t repeat the same mistakes
2. Don’t follow the same path that leads you away
3. Read the Bible and search for direction and understanding regarding Church
Your Brother and Friend