Tag Archives: church decline

Are the Dones Really Christian?

Are the millions who no longer attend church just a bunch of faith imposters? That’s the assertion of some denominational officials who seek to minimize the exodus of the religious Dones. Research shows that American congregations have lost over 30 million adults who are the Dones–those who have left the organized church, but not their faith. […]

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Church Mission: Self-Preservation or Something Else?

I asked the pastor and congregation members, “What’s your church’s mission?” The answers were all over the landscape: To carry on our tradition in the community. To make people feel good and want to come back. To show God’s love through acts of kindness. To keep our old building open and maintained. It’s the same […]

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Ban the Books, Writers and Musicians

In times of loss, some organizations and their leaders react with primal instincts, which only hastens their demise. This self-destructive tendency appears in churches, businesses and political parties. Their leaders contend that the remedy for their decline is an intensification of their old brand distinctives. They react with strident efforts to drive their image toward the extreme, toward […]

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They’re Almost Done with Church–and More Conservative

Soon-to-be defectors are sitting in the pews of America’s churches. Unless something changes, they’re going to join the Dones. While conducting research on the phenomenon of the Dones—those formerly faithful churchgoers who have given up on the organized church—sociologist Josh Packard uncovered another sizable group—the Almost Dones. Packard’s book Church Refugees describes the large group […]

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What’s Next for Idle Church Buildings

“In a decade, America is going to have a whole different look, as far as what is a church and where is a church. And what about all these empty buildings?” asks American Church Magazine publisher Steve Hewitt in the documentary When God Left the Building. Verlon Fosner watched his church, Westminster Community Church in Seattle, […]

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Good Riddance to Nominal Christians?

Christian shrinkage. Is that bad news or good news? Well, it depends, it seems. The Pew Research Center’s new study shows that the proportion of Americans who identify as Christian has declined by nearly 8 percent since 2007. That’s significant and historical. And the decline is felt across all Christian sectors–Catholic, mainline Protestant, and evangelical Protestant. […]

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Easy Answer for Church Survival

These are challenging times for churches in America. Increasingly, they realize that if something doesn’t change, they won’t survive. But what is it that must change? How they answer that question actually predicts their future. “Our church is shrinking away,” they say. “We’ve lost half of our people.” Often they ask, “What needs to happen to […]

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The Rise of the Dones

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously, and leads others passionately. But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person […]

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A Murky Forecast for the ‘Religion Industry’

The dire headlines in the recent market research report caught my eye. “The industry exhibits stagnant participation.” “Industry value added is projected to decline.” What is this troubled industry? It’s the nation’s religious organizations. The business world’s chronicler of major industry trends, IBISWorld, decided to study and document the state of the religion “industry.” This […]

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The Coming New Reformation

The American church is quaking. Pressure is building for a new reformation. We’re approaching the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. Then too the church faced unstoppable pressure to transform. Many methods and practices of the church had lost their luster. A building storm of discontent swiftly changed the church as it was then known. It appears we’re […]

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