There has been a decline in the number of people who attend church. That decline has been impacted even further by the pandemic. BreakPoint, a program of the Colson Center for a Christian Worldview discussed this in a recent article titled “What’s Behind America’s ‘Great Dechurching’?”
The BreakPoint article used the Southern Baptist Convention as an example of this decline. Last year the SBC lost a half a million members. The SBC is just one among many denominations that have experienced decline. When it comes to church affiliation the fastest growing group are the ‘nones,’ those who claim no church affiliation.
The article quotes Ryan Burge who “calls the emptying of pews and the rise of the unaffiliated ‘the most significant shift in American society over the last thirty years.’” The BreakPoint article attempts to give the reasons for this shift, and the reasons given in my opinion are just some of the problem.
John in his first letter gives us part of the answer, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us,” 1 John 2:19. Simply put, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian.
Sometimes the fault lies with the individual church member who has not submitted to being discipled by the church, or the church has done a poor job of discipling the church member. Whichever it is discipling is part of the problem.
What I see, and I am by no means an expert, but it seems Christians are doing church more than being the church. I think we can get so caught up in serving in some capacity at church and we are not as diligent in our Bible reading and in our prayer life. These are the two most important disciplines for maturing in Christ.
The BreakPoint article made several significant points, “a less religiously observant society is, statistically, a much worse place to live,” according to the article. It cited, “Participation in a religious community generally correlates with better health outcomes and longer life, higher financial generosity, and more stable families—all of which are desperately needed in a nation with rising rates of loneliness, mental illness, and alcohol and drug dependency.”
The article further stated, “Faith, particularly Christian faith, is an irreplaceable force for good in society. Its decline will leave America less healthy, less charitable, less connected, and less capable of dealing with major social ills without government intervention. Evidence suggests it already has.”
Let us pray for the church in America that the influence of the Gospel might grow in the heart and lives of the lost and the church might exert the influence for good in our culture.