Sunday, February 21, 2010

Is this the future?

Let's cut to the chase. The typical church today has a rapidly expiring shelf life. Despite the activity and chutzpah emanating from thousands of congregations, the church in America is losing influence and adherents faster than any other major institution in the nation.

The core attributes of our society - language, customs, dress, values, and the like - are substantially reshaped every few years. Most American churches, however, hold fast to programs and goals established by their charter members years ago. Many deny the cataclysmic cultural changes around them, responding with cosmetic changes that make little difference.

George Barna, The Second Coming of the Church


  1. This hardly seems likely. On one hand, Congress' approval ratings are in the single digits; the President and both political parties may hit 50% of the 30% that vote, but that's a tiny minority of the total populace. On the other hand, conservative Protestant denominations sure don't seem to be in trouble, nor lacking in political influence, and even the Catholic church, despite the sex scandals, seems to have troughed out and is holding its own now. It seems the only churches having trouble are the liberal Protestant churches, and given the rise of the NeoPagan churches, I'd say the total number of worshippers has probably remained the same.

  2. We can look at this issue many ways, including in the US and worldwide. The mass exodus from moderate to liberal churches in the US began in the 1950s and continues unabated. There would be more dead bodies if it weren't for the meteoric rise of independent churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback, with their celebrity pastors.

    But even conservative faiths like the Southern Baptists have lost members lately. Worldwide, the Pentecostal movement remains strong, as do other conservative faiths. These are a direct challenge to the Catholic church. But numbers do not tell all. A few years ago, the Boston diocese reported that only 17 percent of Catholics attended Mass regularly, and hundreds of local churches have been closed or merged, due mainly to declining membership and a shortage of priests,