We are experiencing one of the quickest times of change the church has ever seen. Some are questioning if the church as we know it in America will remain intact over the next 20 years.
Cultural shifts, societal pressures, and technological changes have created what some would call a perfect storm for the organized church.
While some congregations are growing, many more are shrinking—creating a cumulative downturn for the American church. Our research shows that more than 60 million adults have not only walked away from their home congregations, they’ve left the organized church altogether. They’ve joined the massive group we call the Dones.
Our studies reveal that the exodus is not over. Another ten percent of current churchgoers say they are “almost done.” They’re planning right now to pack up and leave.
Those who do consider themselves regular churchgoers are attending less frequently. The idea of weekly church involvement is becoming a quaint memory for many.
Though many of the changes facing the church may be concerning, some may actually help to spur new thinking and possibilities for the future of the church. We looked for some implications at Group’s recent Future of the Church summit. We spotted a number of trends to watch—and plan for in the coming years. We noted several major trend lines:
- Changing demographics
- New staffing profiles
- Redefining discipleship
- Rethinking church
CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS. Recent headlines in national media have announced, “White Christian America Is Dying.” By 2024, white Christians will no longer make up the majority of voters. And by 2050, America will have no majority race. We’ll all be in a minority group. Already today 43 percent of Millennials are non-white—the highest of any generation.
The shifts are being driven by immigration and birth rates. Latinos accounted for 54 percent of America’s population growth between 2000 and 2014. About a third of the U.S. Catholic population is Hispanic, but that’s declining. About 55 percent of Hispanics are Catholic, 22 percent are Protestant, and 18 percent are unaffiliated.
Now the fastest growing sector is Asian, which accounts for the biggest source of new immigrants currently. About 42 percent of Asian Americans identify as Christian.
These growing populations provide new opportunities for the church. Some congregations are providing services in other languages, while offering youth and children’s programming in English. Some are sharing their facilities with other ethnic congregations. Some struggling white congregations are finding new vitality by merging with minority congregations.
Rapidly changing demographics will certainly affect the American church. In upcoming Holy Soup articles, we’ll look at the other major Future of the Church trends.
I beg to differ with a lot being said. The Church is very much Alive and Well,, sadly attendance is down,,, the ones of us left believe and pray for those who do not. Spiritual Presence is prominent, Yet we are fully functional Southern Baptist. Prayer works, I cant put it any plainer.
Drive across Texas, Louisiana. Mississippi on a Sunday morning. They will be there. Some not that serious about Jesus but there nevertheless, perhaps learning a bit of scripture or at least in a Churchly attitude.
Whats the age breakdown?
No its not alive and well: http://atoday.org/churches-filling-with-ethnic-members-not-necessarily-a-sign-of-health/
It’s the “system” we’ve left; we have not left the Church. We ARE the Church; we don’t GO to Church. Slight difference in speech; huge difference in reality and behavior. And because we ARE the Church, the Body of Christ, we are not ethnically tribal; our tribe is multi-ethnic, all who belong to Jesus! And that’s why the institution looks different. We who are left are praying for those of you who stayed.
Amen. We are the Church, we are joint together into the One Body of Christ. Many are still unaware of the corrupt system the institutional church adopted from the papacy.
Amen! I feel more connected to Christ OUTSIDE of the institutional church than I ever did when I was in it. His body is to be active in the world, not cloistered together in a huddle and ignoring all of those who aren’t there.
Yes of course we are the body and bride of Christ. Thank God if you have this understanding.
People of Asian origin in the main want to attend church that has their ethnic makeup…Koreans to Korean churches, Philippino to their churches etc. The fastest growing churches other than the mega churches are the ethnic. Suburban churches that are growing are mainly younger families and usually community churches. Inner city churches are dying as the older population die off…Their children in the main are educated, do not want to live in the inner city, move to the suburbs and attend community churches. Inner city churches are in the main getting smaller, much like the churches in the first century. Many measure success by the size of the congregation….If that is the case…Jesus was a failure, at the end of His earthly ministry He only had 120 congregants.
You have missed one of the biggest reasons People are disgusted at the political bent towards creepy man like Trump. He is anti Christ in that he represents the opposite of what Jesus teaches us. shame on Christian leaders that have supported this morally corrupt man
It was a choice of corrupt man or corrupt woman. I picked the corrupt man. He’ll do fine. He’s no more anti Christ than Obama or Gorbachev, former Russian president if you remember everyone calling him that because of the dragon looking birth mark on his head. Donald Trump is my revenge against the corrupt media and even more corrupt people who respond to his tweets, ha, ha.
Be careful of how you judge. If Trump is corrupt how do you justify Clinton? However, I would rather think of how God called Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh his servants! How do you respond to Paul and Peter telling God’s people to “honor the king” and to pray for those in authority?
Many of the white conservative Churches abandoned their Sunday Worship services and replaced them with pseudo election rallies. The consequences for doing that haven’t been realized by them yet. But it’s coming.