The Death of the American Church

Baltimore Sun article on fast-growing trend, rise of 'Nones'

Today’s news article in the Baltimore Sun is must read material for all pastors and church leaders!  The rapid decline of church attendance in North America is well-known by Gen Xers and Millennials, but largely ignored by older (declining) churches.  Our generation is witnessing the Cultural Death of the American Church as we have known it. Rather than being an ostrich with it’s head in the sand wishing away reality, I prefer to face the facts (because facts don’t have feelings and don’t lie) and become the change we wish for!

Three Highlights from the news story:

  • “When I was growing up in what I call the salad days of the 1950s and early 1960s, the question in the neighborhood was ‘What church do you go to?’” Webster says.

    “Now it’s, ‘Why do you go to church?’

    “We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past.”

  • The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA have lost nearly half their members since 1967.
  • Denominations large and small report falling membership numbers, decreased attendance and faltering financial support. The decline began accelerating in the 1990s.

We live in a post-Christian nation.  The culture has shifted dramatically and permanently in the past twenty years.  Old methods and attitudes among church leaders must bend and give way toward innovation and rapid changes in communication.  If churches don’t evangelize, they will fossilize!

This is why I love church start-ups: the fastest way to connect with people far from God is through fresh, dynamic, and healthy start-ups that are free of the baggage and cliques of the past!

As unchanging churches (sadly) choose continuing to gasp and collapse into the future, I am praying for local congregations to unselfishly grant their properties and legacies toward new church start-ups.

Imagine the Kingdom impact that could be pioneered and the past legacies that could be honored if churches rediscovered the power of life after death!

Jonathan is the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan.

You can get his new book at HolyShiftBook.com.

He once bought pantyhose with Tina Fey (true story).