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America's churches are dying

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Bob Cook, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    An organization called the Hartford Institute for Religion Research just released a fascinating survey on America's houses of worship. If Ron Paul reads this, he won't recommend anymore that churches help take care of the uninsured -- because they don't the money to do it.



    -- 14% of churches report being in excellent financial health. That number was 31% in 2000.
    -- Half of churches report having fewer than 100 attendees weekly.
    -- Megachurch attendance is on the decline, just like everywhere else.
    -- Despite attendance and financial declines, churches are more committed to mission work than they were in the past. (Maybe this is where Paul got the idea.)
    -- Religion is still segregated. On the Christian side, growth is in minority communities, particularly Hispanic, which are growing their own churches, rather than moving into established white churches.
    -- Oldline Protestantism is really old. About 62% say less than 10% of their membership is ages 18-34.
    -- Evangelical Protestants are now involved in mission work more than oldline liberal Protestants. (However, in both categories, about 48% of congregations call their theology "very liberal.")
    -- 50% of congregations calling themselves "very liberal" report having high spiritual vitality. 33% of "very conservative congregations" reported the same.

    Even if you're not interested in religion, the report is an interesting American snapshot.
  2. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I really can't speak for anyone else, but we stopped going for multiple reasons. I grew tired of all the acrimony within the religious establishment, and the more I've seen and read since then, the more I'm convinced that this is a phenomenon that cuts across denominations. On top of that, I just became unwilling to sacrifice the one day of the week I didn't have to be anywhere. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. So I rest.
  3. nmmetsfan

    nmmetsfan Active Member

    What happens to a church when it dies? Does it go to heaven?
  4. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Not that mission work in foreign countries isn't a wonderful thing to do, if that's how you're led, but a lot of churches are more than keen to send people off to Haiti or Mexico or Africa while seemingly ignoring the poverty on their own doorsteps.
  5. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    God works in mysterious ways.
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    A lot of the mission work is local. My church (http://www.pilgrimfaith.org) has a food pantry, a homeless shelter and a home-repair service, among other things. And we're barely over that median of 100 in attendance per week. Of course, we also contribute to wider missions.

    But, yeah, I would agree that some churches are much more into foreign outreach. That's mainly because evangelizing is part of their mission, so they're trying to get converts as much as trying to help people.
  7. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    You're making an assumption that missions are foreign. That is simply untrue.

    From the report:
    "The gradual but steady shift in congregational self-understanding from supporting mission to doing mission in one’s local community, which became dominant in the 1960s, added a second layer to the complexity of American congregations’ program structure."
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    We go weekly and I get a little sick of getting the handout every week that says, "Donations last week - $8507. Amount needed to per week - $11,245" and then seeing the YTD numbers.

    I understand why they do it, but it would be nice to be able to go without having it be a money grab.
  9. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    We go weekly as well and it is no surprise (at least to me) why many of the "oldline Protestant" churches are dying.

    Many are still doing the same service they did in 1982.

    Not saying it is right/wrong but the churches that are thriving are reaching out to people under 40 through Facebook, dynamic services (drama, video) and a sense of being authentic.

    You can tell how a church is doing without even stepping inside. Rows of Buicks in the parking lot? Dying church. Minivans? One that has a robust membership under 40.

    As for the YTD contributions, I don't mind that. To me, that actually speaks of accountability on their operating costs and budgeting.
  10. BitterYoungMatador2

    BitterYoungMatador2 Well-Known Member

    Many of us have simply found better places to go and compare clothing.
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    When we switched churches a couple years ago, the age of the membership was very important to us. At the old place, we were among the youngest people there, despite being in our mid-to-late 30s.

    At the new place, there are a ton of minivans and a ton of kids and our kids are usually excited about going because there are so many kids in their Sunday school classes.

    That's a fair point on the accounting.
  12. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    The Catholic Church is fading in the U.S. and Europe because the conservative takeover of the past 30 years has washed away all the progressive inroads that had been made, and people in the U.S. and Europe less and less want to associate with a church that rails against abortion and divorce and equality of the sexes and is seen as inflexible and lacking mercy. That's why the church has had to develop its growth market in the Third World.
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