U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time

I’m sure this has been discussed elsewhere, as I’ve been sitting on it for a few weeks now, but I think there are some worthwhile things to discuss here.

My first thought was that this recent largeish drop might simply be an effect of Covid. But even if it is connected, it seems likely to simply have sped up an ongoing change. In other words, it is likely to be a permanent change, given the rise in number of people who have “no religious preference,” not a temporary blip because of temporarily closed churches.

The article does hit on some sub-points, such as the generational differences—the drop among the younger generations is particularly brutal and sad—and the fact that Roman Catholic membership is particularly hard hit, compared to Protestant.

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Some thoughts on a fascinating and scary article:

  • What are the changes in church attendance, as distinct from church membership?

  • This has implications for evangelism - you will not be able to rely on someone having any background knowledge of faith. I know someone whose only knowledge of Christianity, when his girlfriend (now wife) started witnessing to him, was from Jesus Christ Superstar!

  • Britain has been in this sort of twilight zone for years, and Protestant Europe for even longer, though Catholic Europe is rapidly changing as well.

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I was surprised to learn that church membership remained so high for so long, so consistently, from 1937 to the end of the century.

Another interesting data point is that among believers, church membership has declined from about 70% to 60%.

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This is from a few years ago, but here you go:

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Thank you - this is the number we need to keep an eye on, especially when analysed out in terms of age cohort.