July 10, 2020

Open Thread: The De-Churching of America: What do YOU Think?

I’m reading some books on the de-churching of America, i.e. the drop in church attendance over the last 50 years.

Research being what it is, I know that anything can be proven, but I have my own research tool: the IM readership.

Without going into great detail, what have you seen in your own extended family? Do more or less people participate in church now than in the past? What is your personal take on the de-churching of America?

From where you live, can you see the emergence of a post-evangelical (Or Catholic or Mainline) or post-Christian culture?

Comments

  1. Extended Family Church History
    Paternal side: Grandfather – Methodist Circuit Rider (rode a horse from place to place to preach)at age of 16 (in Georgia)/very knowledgeable in Bible prophecy/grand-mom remained home/cared for and churched 7 children/both grandparents stopped attending in later years

    My father was a Baptist evangelist/led many to Christ through active witnesses/his siblings and families, except youngest brother, attended until their deaths or still attend/ mother attended until terminal illness prevented – she remained faithful to her Lord/ loved the television ministers

    Two sisters/myself: Oldest sister, husband, children, and grandchildren all regularly attend baptist church of our parents and our childhood/ all are college graduates(including the children’s husbands and wives)/ all serve within the church in some form (several of grandchildren identified as intellectually gifted)/three of the adults participate in county jail ministries

    Younger sister: She, husband, two daughters-their husbands and children attend same church as older sister/sister very committed to serious Bible study, teaching, witnessing to people she encounters, and jail ministry; oldest daughter became disillusioned when her church youth-worker dad committed adultery and left the family for the other woman after 15 years of marriage to their mother/she has not attended church in her adulthood-nor does her husband or two children

    MYSELF: Attended Baptist church of childhood until married a Methodist and moved to husband’s nearby Methodist church/ very active in teaching Bible prophecy/husband was lay-leader- taught classes/two children received Christ there/ we moved to neighboring Methodist church with large youth ministry/ third child born-died while there/older members resented our input (husband lay leader….both on church committees) since we were new members/later relocated to my hometown due to mom’s terminal illness and to put two children in better school/mom died weeks afterwards/I had begun teacher college at night-husband and two teens cared for our 8-month-old/chose Baptist church uptown -soon became aware of discord in that church- grieved heavily over loss of mom–all too much- took sabbatical from church to recover…husband and I never again went full-time/teens both kept attending/daughter still attends there with her family-husband is youngest deacon for that church/she teaches kindergarten and church classes…he is bank executive and teaches church classes/our son married a church goer/now divorced-shares custody of daughter/ stopped going to church during the marriage / healing is coming- emotionally healthier than he’s been in years/youngest daughter attended same church as older siblings/ received Christ at a young age but did not join church and was not baptized/she’s in her 6th year on scholarship at University of Alabama-student assistant with Women’s basketball team/has done house church in her home/has been baptized and affiliated with a non-denomination church there/attends and participates with Baptist Student Union/at age 23..we seldom see her…communicate often by text/ diabetic with an insulin pump since age 10/intellectually gifted and a leader

    Maternal side of my family is made up of relatives who all attend Baptish church. My husbands father attended Methodist church until his death/ mother stopped going years before/sibblings and families all attend regularly

    I know we are in serious and changing times. God is growing a body of faithful followers who will see the ‘harvest’ is in serious jeopardy. Christianity is not just about ‘assembling yourselves’. It is about taking the strength gained from the ‘assembling’ and moving out to serve and effect the world.

  2. On my father’s side of my extended family, every single person is a regular church attender. Not only do they attend, but they are heavily involved: they teach Sunday School, are volunteer youth workers, musicians, and ministers. My grandfather and 3 of his brothers were ministers. How did this happen? Have no clue. Their mother was raised primitive Baptist in the years following the Civil War, but became a Methodist as a teenager. She married a Methodist and raised 12 children in the Methodist faith. Most of her grandchildren and greats have been active in the Methodist church. A few are members of other denominations now, but remain active.
    My mom’s family has Methodist roots, but many became members of the church of Christ and some still are.My mom was raised COC and was a member until she reached her 40s. Many in her family have joined up with other denominations. We are from the mid-South (Northern Alabama, the heart of the Bible belt, I suppose, though some of us live in other places in the south and are as far-flung as Alaska and Washington, D.C. As to why we (my extended family) are so faithful, perhaps it’s because many of my ancesters were diligent about living out publicly their Christian faith and about discipling those of us who came after them. I know we have been wonderfully blessed.

  3. I stopped going to church because the last church I attended (at my son’s request) became unbearable to sit through. I stopped going to the small group first – having been a part of that group for over a year and still had not made an actual friend and not seeming to have any spiritual significance to me. And yes, it could be all my fault.

    My children – daughter started going back to church in her mid 20’s and is continuing with her newest boyfriend at a new church. My two sons do not go to church.

    My sister and 2 of my three brothers go to church regularly. Their wives do not go. My third brother seems to hate “religion”.

    From what I can tell, one or two of my co-workers actually goes to church, the rest don’t.

    I miss the great experiences I’ve had at the churches I have attended. It never occurred to me that that was a season and not going to be a permanent condition. But it was a lovely long season. And now I cannot think of a single church that I would be able to attend and commit to in some way. I hope this ‘season’ ends as well – maybe this is a refining time for the body of Christ and the Lord is cleaning up all this mess we have created in all of our denominations.

  4. I moved half way across the globe just over a year ago. I’ve gone from attending one form of church or another every week since I was born to having been in only one Christian meeting in 12 months. I’ve been put off by a history of pastors (i.e. dudes that just happened to have started a church) banging on about stuff that I think is poorly thought out, reactionary, politically motivated, egotistical and ignorant. I’m sick of being perceived as having “unorthodox” interpretation of the faith. I’m bored of worship (in the singing and clapping sense, I can’t stand the style of easy listening soft-rock worship music). I’m bored of altar calls. I’m bored of the drive for church growth at all costs. I’m sick of the insatiable desire to be ‘cool’ and ‘relevant’. What I want from Christian community is patience, kindness, humility and love. It seems get more of this from my non-Christian friends than I ever did in Church.

    Most of all though, I have not had, from the “churched”, a real indication that the god they make so many claims about even exists. Put simply, I’m scared of going to a church. I’m scared that I won’t find God there.

  5. We stopped attending Sunday morning meetings with CEO leadership, guy up on a stage, and audience-style non-participative format.

    Our fellowship is now gathering with local friends for a meal, a chat, some prayer.. nothing churchy. No fixed place, time, or agenda. But that might change.

    The Internet, as well, is providing welcome access to resources, ideas, spiritual creativity, encouragement and many new “virtual friends” around the globe – a participative “virtual ecclesia.” This, to me, is the most exciting new development in global faith – a truly horizontally connected global ecclesia – without walls, denominational barriers, or hierarchical layers.

    I think, within a few generations, the definition of “church” will be radically different from today’s understanding. In a good way – in a fulfilled way – in a gathering way – in an organic, comprehensive, universally compassionate and non-exclusionary way. In the Jesus way.

  6. Christopher Lake says

    Humanly speaking, I might be dead without the reality of the church in my life. I need my brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to grow as a Christian and to faithfully (very imperfectly) live out life in this fallen world.

    As with many Christians, I have been deeply hurt by churches in the past. However, the church, locally and world-wide, is the Bride whom Christ loves (I speak as a Reformed Protestant), and I am called to love it too. It’s not just a matter of feeling; it’s also a matter of commitment. Moreover, there are simply no examples in the Bible of Christians being “lone rangers,” living as Christians without being part of a local church.

    With the above said, of the family members with whom I am in touch on anything resembling a semi-regular basis, four adults (I think), including me, still go to church. I was raised in a very nominal Christian family. I think that this may have had much to do with our irregular church-going when I was a child, and the non-existence of the church in the lives of most of my family members today.

    I believe that I was only actually saved six years ago, at the age of 29, largely through *directly participating* in the ministry of Evangelism Explosion. Saved through evangelism training– who would have thought? (Not that I think that’s the way to go!) I had very little stability in my Christian life (and *no* solid understanding of the importance of the church for Christians– I’m convinced there is a relation there) until I came to a healthy, warm Reformed Baptist church that taught its members about what the Bible has to say on the crucial role of the local church in the Christian’s life.

    I have never been the same since that time– and all for the better. If only more of my family members would come to see their need for Christ *and* also find a church with such careful, thoughtful teaching on the *role* of the local church for Christians!

  7. My response to the posted question: Do more or less people involve themselves within their the church. Why or why Not? Hummmm….not quite enough strength this eve to write much of my own, by I did find a significant small statement written from “Donald Daytons Article” on Jesus Creed making mention of this….”Quote: “Stockholm Syndrome”…..”Insights of liberation theology that the oppressed tend to adopt the values of their oppressors as a way of gaining crediability in their eyes–rather than seeking–What is it truly the reason “Why” are we becoming reformed/transformed”….is it to appease the….Or God?
    Than a small ownership of discerning ability came to mind…..flipping through the pages of my Bible written as “Jesus spoke” to the crowds–His disciples….”Matthew 23:28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”.
    Now , expressing that small version than; I pondered back to the picture up top, of a woman holding her hand out, claiming a posture of distance-back off approach. How sad. This is when I, myself crab ahold of a fine tuned book for encouragements -“Theology, And the Art of Remembering Rightly in a violent World”.
    Although ….On a much more postivie note!!!! Thrilled to read up top commenting that attendence has increased in Canada 7.5% Church related! Praise God for that! As for all of the churches–it is my solemn Prayer that once again maybe “The Angel” of the churches will speak again to the so called churches of Ephesus….Thyatira…Laodicea…and so forth–Our Churches today…..Rahab

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