The Barna Group has a new report that plumbs the question of why fewer and fewer Americans are attending church.
The document names five trends:
1. Secularization is on the rise, especially among young adults. The authors write: “Nearly half of Millennials (48%) qualify as post-Christian compared to two-fifths of Gen X-ers (40%), one-third of Boomers (35%) and one-quarter of Elders (28%).”
2. People are less open to the idea of church. “Twenty years ago, two-thirds of churchless Americans (65%) were open to being invited to church by a friend. Today, that percentage has slipped to less than half (47%).”
3. Churchgoing Is No Longer Mainstream. “In the 1990s, roughly one out of every seven unchurched adults had never experienced regular church attendance. Today, that percentage has increased to nearly one-quarter.”
4. There Are Different Expectations of Church Involvement. “Today’s unchurched are more likely to say they are simply not sure [whether they would be interested in attending a Sunday service], reflecting their disinterest in churches generally, or are more likely to say they would prefer attending some activity other than the Sunday service.
5. There Is Skepticism about Churches’ Contributions to Society. “When the unchurched were asked to describe what they believe are the positive and negative contributions of Christianity in America, almost half (49%) could not identify a single favorable impact of the Christian community, while nearly two-fifths (37%) were unable to identify a negative impact.”
Do you agree with these conclusions? If so, how should the Episcopal Church act on these insights? Do bishops, clergy and lay leaders seem prepared for the task?