Monday, January 7

Poll showing people are leaving the church

In this article, James from Think Christian discusses a new Gallup poll that seems to confirm what many of us have already suspected. There has been a dramatic decline in the number of people in the United States who identify themselves as "Christian" and who regularly attend church.

In 1948, 91% of Americans identified themselves as either Protestant (69%) or Catholic (22%). Today, 82% of Americans think of themselves as Christian. However, that 82% includes 8% who identify themselves as "other Christian faiths" that many people would consider either unorthodox or simply non-Christian. So Protestants (51%) and Catholics (23%) now only make up 74% of the population, which represents a 17% decline in the last 60 years. Additionally, Protestants have gone from representing more than 2/3 of the U.S. population to now barely constituting a majority.

Church membership has also taken a dramatic decline. In 1937, 73% of Americans were church members. As recently as 1999 that number was 70%. Just 8 years later, that number has fallen to 63-65%. That is an 8-10% decline in just 8 years. Wow.

And claiming church membership does not mean people are attending church regularly. Only 32% of Americans say that they attend church every week. Put another way, just less than half of those who claim church membership actually show up at church every week.

I know that a lot of people have known on some level that there seem to be fewer people claiming to be Christians and going to church than there used to be. This survey helps to give some substance to those feelings. I think that the dramatic decrease over the last decade is particularly interesting.

The culture and the mental outlook and framework of the people in the United States is changing. Who Jesus is and what he has done is a constant - it never changes (see Hebrews 13:8). However, because people change, the way that present the message of Jesus has to change, or else the church will find itself irrelevant to the people around us. Studies like this should stir us to think about ways to change so that we can be more effective at impacting the world around us for Jesus.

1 comment:

The_BGRT said...

This begs the question...what next? If we know that truth does not change, yet culture and peoples views of life, morality, love, what is and what is not acceptable do change how do we present/show/personify/illustrate Christ to them? I have found that the answer is almost brain numbingly easy yet next to the most difficult thing to put down into application. What is your thought? What do you think that the "answer" is?