Church Attendance

Church attendance in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released in April 2019. This decline has not been a steady one. Indeed, over the last 20 years, church attendance has fallen by 20 percent. This might not sound like cause for concern off the bat. And if you’re not a person of faith, you might rightly wonder why you would care about such a thing.

Church attendance is simply a measure of something deeper: social cohesion. It’s worth noting that the religions with the highest rate of attendance according to Pew Forum have almost notoriously high levels of social cohesion: Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons and historically black churches top the list.

There’s also the question of religious donations. Religious giving has declined by 50 percent since 1990, according to a 2016 article in The New York Times. This means people who previously used religious services to make ends meet now either have to go without or receive funding from the government. This, in turn, strengthens the central power of the state.

Civil society is in rapid decline, that is, those elements of society which exist independently of big government and big business, which are essential to a functioning and free society are fast disappearing.

Loneliness, isolation, fear, and the dark side of social media might be seen as a prelude to tyranny, and this in turn could lead to growing violence. Fatherlessness, a problem in the Black community is now washing over into the white community.

Of 114 mass shootings – using the Congress definition – between 1982 and May 2019, 110 were carried out by men.

According to Statista analysis, in the same time-frame 64 of the perpetrators were white, while 19 were black, 10 Latino and eight Asian.

About 60% of America is white-only, while current stats show white people carry out about 58% of shootings. As a proportion of all races and shootings, white people far outstrip others.

The deeper truth is that without parental guidance, the preaching of moral values, the recognition of what is right and wrong, churches will have little influence on the vast sea of disappearing Americans. The churches are devoid of millennials as well as Generations X and Y and they won’t come to church if what they hear is no different from what the New York Times or Washington Post throw at them. If there is not a clear understanding of what the gospel is, then railing on about climate change, the wall, refugees, saving the whales and carbon footprints will not draw young people into the church.

If the parents don’t believe, there is little incentive for them to go to church. Kids pick up on that immediately and follow in their footsteps. Of course, there is no guarantee that even if the parents are true believers that the children will follow. The God-given gift of free will can be met with a resounding no.

With the loss of a moral base in decision-making largely furnished from the Bible, in time the loss of business ethics will set in. One sees that in people like Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Epstein and numerous businessmen caught with their hands in the till. We are also becoming a shame-free society, so no one feels guilty about anything, because we are told guilt is bad for you. But is it? One must distinguish between true moral guilt and guilt feelings, but guilt is a reality and only the foot of the cross can deal adequately with it.

One other emerging fact is the conflation of true Biblical faith with American Civil Religion, making it harder for Millennials (read Nones) to know what the difference is. It is very hard for Americans not to see themselves as exceptional while waving flags and toting guns. Millennials want their faith undiluted and many conclude that the rise of the Nones may not be due to a general societal decline in religious fervor, but to a decline in religious affiliation among people whose identification was weak to begin with. The death of mainline (liberal) Protestantism is guaranteed.

The killer then is nominalism. The number of Americans with a “somewhat strong” religious affiliation dropped from 12 percent to 4 percent between 2006 and 2018. That should tell you everything. Perhaps the weeding out of true believers from nominalists is necessary for a new understanding of the faith to appear. Only a return to sound gospel preaching and Bible teaching, the push for discipleship and discipline can halt the decline. The question is will we ever see it again?

BREAKING NEWS….  The numbers are out, and, as expected, The Episcopal Church is in serious decline. Latest average Sunday attendance shows TEC with 533,206 in 2018 down 4.2% from 2017 when the figure was 556,744. This is a total loss of 28,538. Baptized membership is down 36%!