New poll: Is American church in decline?

According to a new Gallup poll conducted last month, eight out of ten Americans are "Christian in one way of another."

Hmmm? Before Christians get too excited about those numbers, let's break down the stats.

That 82 percentile not only encompassed Protestants (51 percent) and Catholics (23 percent), but included "other Christian faiths" (8 percent) that many would categorize as unorthodox or simply non-Christian.

And those numbers are down from a 1948 Gallup poll when Americans were 69 percent Protestant and 22 percent Roman Catholic.

In a 1937 Gallup poll, three-fourths (73 percent) of Americans said they were church members. The number remained virtually the same through the turn of the century. Since 2000, however, that number has dropped to between 63 and 65 percent. (Wow, that's a 14 percent decline in membership in just seven years!)

But simply being a "member" of a church is very different than actually attending church. Of the two-thirds who claim church membership, only one-third said they attended once a week; 12 percent they attend "almost every week."

The number of Americans labeling themselves "Christian" is down from 91 percent to 82 percent in little over fifty years. Church membership is down from 73 percent to 66 percent over the same time. And only one half of those claiming church membership actually attend church once a week.

Despite the increasing numbers of mega-churches and TV ministries, the number of Protestants and Catholics in America has declined 19 percent. However, overseas, especially in Africa, South America and even Communist China, Christianity is flourishing.

So, why the decline in of the church in North America and increase in other areas of the world? I have some theories, but I'd like to hear yours.

Comments (20)

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Education. Knowledge almost always turns people away from religion.
Church has developed a bad rep over the years with Sunday school teachers raping kids, money fraud, and irrelevant approaches to a pop-culture world. I think that has a lot to do with church decline.
Our culture in america has advanced fast then countries like china. Things like the media have play church out like a fad.
I believe the "Church" has cut its own throat. Let me explain. As a longtime member of my home Church, I can honestly say that I was never accosted by a group of frightening, robe clad, Dracula looking folks telling me that I was a fool for my beliefs. Nor did I ever receive threats from our City Government for attending Worship Services. On the contrary, Church Deacons, Trustees, etc. have yelled at me and treated me shabbily! Those "God Fearing Christians" have acted anything but Christ like toward a few others as well as myself. They had their little club in the Church and were quick to let others know it was a "members only" affair. Also, Church members across the Country have been arrested for horrendous crimes such as murder. The Church did it to itself. And, following in true fashion, they will blame the "devil" or anyone or thing other than themselves.
Sadly, humans are a messed-up bunch, no matter where we meet them. Church deacons, trustees, ushers...may have joined for social or business reasons. Members who see them as successful (esp. $$- wise) then ask them to help manage the church's business. Why not? There's no risk whatsoever. No need for deep conviction, let alone salvation. No surprise, then, that Church is the Devil's favorite hang-out! So, brother, when you sneer about blaming the Devil ... all I can think of to say to you is, Hell, Yeah! Defeating him was, like, what it was all about! No human has it all together. Everyone will let you down. Please, don't waste another minute of your life judging those who are, at least, striving in the right direction; they are not your enemies! Churches are also full of decent, God-fearing people, thankful to know Jesus, who will welcome you and help you in any way they can.
The chaff is being sifted from the wheat. "Members" of churches who never or seldom attend simply have decided to ignore what they never believed anyway.

As far as megachurches are concerned, the majority of their people come from other churches. Just moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.
I was just thinking about this the other day. I think it's because we are a "developed" nation. We have some of the best technology, biggest corporations, houses for our cars, and wealth beyond any other nation in the world. Western Europe is the same way, and we all know that Christianity is hanging on a thread there. In developing nations, or nations that are not developed at all, there is not so much "stuff" to get in the way of Christianity. It is probably a more true form of Christianity. As countries get wealthier and more corporate, so too does their religion. We all know that North American Christianity is institutionalized, consumeristic, materialistic, and corporate. When people have enough of that outside of the church, why do they need more of it from the church? We in North America have everything we need. Our consumeristic desires are fulfilled. Where is there room for God? And what does God really do for us, the most developed, technologically advanced, and wealthiest of the wealthy?
I think it's because in North American many people feel as if they don't need God and it is easy to try to cover the gap that God creates in your life with the amount of stuff we have here where as in other countries where they don't have as much there is more of a need for God in your life to help you everyday
There are lots of reasons I think. Among the more commonly documented ones are that we Americans are a spoiled lot who will not tolerate God nor man telling us what to do. Another possibility is that churches with some of their own behaviors are causing their own problems.
You see, often church leaders come across pompous at times, as well as unapproachable. Then factor in the constant pleas for money and volunteer time. I think you get my point.
Their focus here in the US is money,and I know it takes money to cover cost . I know Jesus was supported by the contributions of the people who believed .Jesus recieved support for his basic necessities not to operate a ministry. So the underlying question is can we blame the lack of money as one of the reasons why the gosple has been hindered .

 

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