Why We Are Losing So Many Churches In The United States?

What are some of the reasons that churches in the U.S. are losing members?  What can be done to stop this bleeding?  How can you help?

There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago

The Decline of the American Church

You might not be surprised that Brazil is the number one receiving nation of foreign missionaries in the world but you might be surprised about who is the 2nd most missionary receiving nation in the world.  It is the U.S.   Why?  In a recent sermon, Pastor James McDonald from Walking in the Word Ministries revealed these shocking numbers about Christianity in America:

Of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining. That is 80% of the churches in America and maybe the one you attend, if you attend at all.

4,000 churches close their doors every single year.

There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago.

3,500 people leave the church every single day.

Since 1950, there are 1/3rd fewer churches in the U.S.

As I mentioned, the U.S. is the number two receiving nation of foreign missionaries and perhaps now you can see why.  Churches in America are declining and may be following the trend that has been occurring in Europe.  Why?  What can be done about this?  What is the root cause of why so many churches in the U.S. are disappearing?  Seeker Sensitive Churches

I believe part of the reason that the church is declining in America is that expository preaching is no longer the rule but the exception. Too many churches are seeker sensitive that try to appeal to the masses to make them solve their everyday problems or try to make their lives happier.  This is not the gospel for Christ Himself said that the road is hard and that we will all have to take up our cross and bear it (Luke 9:23). The gospel has been compromised and has been changed from a repentance, confession, and trust in Christ gospel to a feel good, real good, health, wealth, and prosperity gospel.  This is not the gospel that Christ or Paul preached but another gospel (2 Cor 11:4).

A Works Based Religion

Another reason is that some churches teach a work-based gospel that robs God of glory.  Paul rebuked the Galatian church for this very reason writing

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.  Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh” (Gal 3:1-3)?

Some churches are critical of other churches who do not keep the Sabbath or who allow members who smoke or drink when the most critical issues of repentance and faith are ignored.  Instead they teach that a person is not a Christian if they do certain things or don’t do other things.  I often tell other Christians who believe this that we have a section of town where no one smokes, no one drinks, no one dances, no one works on the Sabbath and not even one there plays cards.  We call it the cemetery.  If a person is saved by works then Christ died for nothing (Gal 2:21)!

Revival Starts With The Believer

The church in America is in desperate need of revival but where does revival start? Revival is not an appeal to those outside of the church.  We can’t pitch a tent and put up a sign saying “Revival Tonight.”  Revival is not for the lost for if you are still dead in your sins then you cannot be revived.  Here is the only place that revival can begin. If you are standing in the sand, draw a circle around yourself.  Inside of that circle is where revival must first begin. In the same message about the decline of American churches James McDonald gave some diagnostic questions that reveal whether a believer needs personal revival or not.  I have added some of my own.

When I hear the Lord’s name taken in vain and used as a curse word and am not moved to righteous indignation, then I need revival.

When striving for personal holiness ceases to dominate your thinking then personal revival is need.

When you do not attend corporate worship regularly with the church Jesus built or have no desire to be with the redeemed in the Body of Christ, the church, then you are in dire need of revival.

When I sin and know that it is sin and fail to repent immediately, then I need revival on the spot!

When I don’t rejoice in the success of others but instead are secretly or inwardly jealous or envious, then I need reviving by the Spirit of God.

Where there is no hunger for hearing the Word of God or for reading the Bible then I need revival.

When biblical truth is ignored or we rationalize our sin against what the Word of God says, then that person needs revival.

When the eternal fate of those in our family, our co-workers, our friends or even strangers fails to move us to share the gospel, then we need personal revival.

When my prayer life ceases to be an everyday necessity then I am really saying to God by my silence, “God, I am good to go…I don’t need your intervention in my life today.”  That is a critical sign that you are in need of reviving.

When I am able to watch degrading movies filled with violence and profane language or I can read publications with the same things then I need to have revival.

If I find more joy in discord or disunity than in unity in the church, workplace or the family, then I am not in tune with the Holy Spirit and need reviving.

When I see an injustice or suffering and fail to be moved by it, then my heart is hardened and I desperately need revival.

What do you believe reveals the need for revival in yourself or in others?  Is there something that you can add to this list?

Revival in the Church

If revival is to take place in this nation or any nation, then revival must begin with the individual believer.  Revival starts within each one of us.  Then it spreads to other believers in the church.  Then the church which is revived can impact the proximate community around it.  That revival can then spread from that neighborhood into the district of that town or city.  Only then can this revival begin to impact the entire town or city.  The revival of this city initiated by born-again believers can start to spread outward to other cities and affect the state.  States can impact neighboring states and states impact the nation.  Only then can that nation impact those bordering nations…and those bordering nations can affect the nations around the world.  Revival will never come until it first comes to believers.

Conclusion

You can help bring revival to America but it must start with you and with me but we cannot have revival until revival has us.  We cannot revive what is not first alive.  If you are not born again then you are dead in your sins.  The greatest revival in human history began with one man.  Jonah, the reluctant prophet brought salvation to Nineveh.  Nineveh was the arch-enemy of Israel and Jonah hated the idea of having them be saved but God told Jonah “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle” (Jonah 4:11)?  Who doesn’t know their left hand from their right?  They are those who are under the age of accountability and are very young children, babies, infants and toddlers.  So if there were over one hundred thousand young children in Nineveh, then there must have been over one million souls in that city-state.  Nineveh did repent and more than a million people were saved.  Does that excite you?  If not, then you need revival.

Only God can bring revival.  We can fall on our face and repent of our spiritual laziness which I have had to do.  We can pray that God sends revival to us and then pray for those around us and that God will bring revival to our church, to our city, to our state, to our nation and to the world so that millions might be saved.  This is the will of God.  He doesn’t take pleasure in or desire that any perish.  Is that your wish too?  Then pray for God to revive you so that others might be saved and bring glory to God because bringing glory to God is what it’s all about.

Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design

 photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

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  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Correlation is not causation; and it’s not clear that there’s even correlation rather than mere contemporaneity. Are the declines concentrated in those with those where expository preaching is comparatively more rule, or concentrated where it is more the exception? Is the decrease in expository preaching a result of that means being less effective than in the past at keeping the sheep within the fold, or even simply less prevalent because churches relying on it too have shrunk in size to being too small to notice?

    For that matter, is there any measurable decline?

  • Jonas Aagbjargensson

    Because we see what a bunch of stupid, unloving hypocrites you all really are under your veneer of phony handshakes and lardy potlucks with your jiggling fat bellies, that you have no divine authority or respect for life (but instead preach hate and eternal torment of billions of innocent people), and that what you preach could not possibly be the religion that Jesus preached. Give up everything you have and give it to the poor. What…you mean…you…don’t do that? Then I guess you don’t practice what Christ preached. I am a millennial and I speak for my generation. And trust me…you won’t get us back…

    • Ozzie Glea

      Jonas,

      I can appreciate and respect your thoughts , reasons, and conclusions based on your experience. I would first of all say that everyone is not called to give up all the have in a literal sense, abandoning all and walk the land as Christ. No, some may be “moved” to do that, but if everyone did that I would any of us survive in the natural setting we call earth.

      The Bible’s main purpose is to transform one’s thinking beyond just themselves and what they want, but to in a holistic effort love, respect, and cherish the life of all people, regardless of their lifestyle, religion, race or gender.

      I do agree with you that church is full of hypocrites, but so is any and every other organization in the world, surely you must recognize and know that.

      I trust that your heart and mind will be changed, not because I want it to, not because God is making you to, but because you will see and respond to the need to.

      • LaDiablaBlanca

        There is no god. And we will be okay with that. Probably better off.

      • cleos_mom

        Historically, quite a few people have been “cherished” to a horrible death via the Bible’s followers. And you didn’t even include sexual orientation at that.

  • Ryan J

    Howdy from an ex-Christian Millennial. As usual, none of the reasons adduced in this article hit upon why the church is shrinking, and why my generation wants nothing to do with the Christian faith. Here are the core reasons: (1) the Bible isn’t true; (2) the Bible is chock-full of myopic, misanthropic nonsense (cf. Old Testament law)–the kind of nonsense which can be (and indeed was, during the Reformation and its aftermath) used to justify all manner of violence. Millennials often ascribe their lack of faith to the hypocrisy of Christians (see Jonas’s comments). But the real culprit in simpler: the preachments of the Bible just ain’t true. And as the disparity between the revelations of science and the intellectually stultifying dogmas of Scripture widens, the Bible only appears more and more untentable–more and more laughable.

    • tonhogg

      Yeah I agree. I looked at a lot of things about the bible and couldn’t believe the horrible immoral things it puts forth. It truly is a book that makes horrible awful stances on how to deal with people not obeying God. But it goes way beyond that. Parts added to books of the new testament long after it was written, and the horrible lack of evidence that there is even a supernatural force anywhere in the world.

      I think the church is dying because of the internet and it can’t hide it’s failings anymore behind of veil of “All is right with the bible”. Clearly these things are there in black and white and you can’t hide it anymore. This article got it wrong. I don’t believe because of the lack of “getting back to the basics”. I don’t believe anymore because it’s a book that is awful, you can’t read through the stupid thing because it makes no sense half the time, and it’s just overall a book with a really bad message. Hey someone is a witch or committed adultery, well hey, just have the church pick up rocks and throw them until the person is dead. WHAT!!!!

      • Clive Johnson

        I used to be a Christian as well. One of the reasons I’ve remained an ex-Christian is precisely because of the Bible, which I now regard as an abject testimony to human ignorance and primitiveness. There are other reasons.

        1. For a supposedly god-inspired book, it stacks up very poorly with philosophy and ethical thought. The Bible simply doesn’t have much to say, and what it does say it is often not with intelligence or much insight into the human condition.
        2. The Bible is objectively worthless as a guide to understanding the natural world. Science wins this one in a nanosecond.
        3. With very few exceptions, the Bible pales as literature compared with with many thousands of books of literature and poetry written before and since. One novel of Proust, for example, with its genius of observation, its brilliance of expression, its beautiful similes, is culturally worth more to humanity than the entire Bible. In my view, anyway.
        4. The Bible is silent on a huge range of questions facing humanity. What economic systems works best for people? How do we treat the environment? How do we make end-of-life decisions? What is the moral status of animals? How do we think about radically enhancing human capabilities through science? What is dark matter? Is there intelligence elsewhere in the universe? Should we contact it? There’s nothing the Bible says–NOTHING–that hasn’t been exceeded in depth of understanding by subsequent thought. The Bible is dead in this way.

        In every sphere of human activity we know more now than we did then. Why hold onto this ancient book as though it’s the master key to human wellbeing?

        • cleos_mom

          It’s a corner that at least two out of the three “Abrahamic” religions have painted themselves into.

          1500 to 2000 years ago, a religion claiming to have an historical basis was a radical concept and one that appealed to people in terms of rendering the other dimension more relevant to their lives and more personal to them.

          But now? Even 2 or 3 centuries back, reading the Bible as history wasn’t any huge contradiction even for the most educated people and that era is over. Not to mention the fact that all it takes to get an idea of how huge the Universe is would be to know what a light-year is. And difficult to believe in a god who created that universe but still insists on religious practices (i.e., sacrifices) common in the first century CE on a planet that’s only one among billions. The notion of an historical religion has gone from a state-of-the-art road to a dirt track with mud up to a SUV’s bumper.

          • Clive Johnson

            Well put.

      • Eric

        I’m in exactly the same camp as you Ryan and I’ll share some of the reasons:
        1) Christianity does not deliver on its promises. Living life as proposed by the Christian message is supposed to bring peace, joy and love into your life, at a level not offered by any other practice of religion. It most emphatically does not. Instead, it leads to guilt, self-doubt, narcissism and ultimately to depression, which brings me to my next point.
        2) Christianity (read prayer) is supposed to be able to fix all of life’s problems. Angry or depressed? You need to pray more. Having a disaster in your relationship or job? Just pray. This clearly doesn’t do anything except bring more focus to the problems and discourage any action upon the part of the petitioner, which can in turn make them worse, especially if those problems were brought on by the guilt and shame that this religion likes to shower upon all natural human needs and desires.
        3) Christianity has its focus on the wrong means for its stated goals. Most Christians will say they desire joy, well-being and success for themselves and others, but then go on to promulgate religious and political dogmas that run directly counter to those admirable aspirations. For example, the church I left is *still* actively struggling with equality for women in church roles and family life, despite every evidence that women offered opportunities to do take on more responsibility and have successful careers are thriving. This is because a central theme within Christianity is submission to authority in every aspect of life: government, society, church and home. I think we can all agree that actively suppressing the free intelligence, creativity and personal growth of half the population is going to undermine the well-being of everyone concerned.
        This is only for a start; I could go on for pages. Maybe I’ll write a book. :-)

        • Gravity

          Look at the health, well being and lives of children these days in America….

    • Guest

      You’re an absolute moron. That is all.

      • oikos

        You have no cogent argument to make so you call him a moron. Religion is dying because of the ignorance of people like you who promote its bigotry and superstition.

        • Guest

          You’re an even bigger moron.

          • oikos

            Does your mother know you’re on the Internet unsupervised? Make sure you finish high school, your critical thinking and conversational skills are abysmal.

          • Guest

            I finished high school 30 years ago.
            You’re getting all the conversation you deserve, idiot.

    • http://www.worlds-best-answers.com/ GoodScienceFYou

      The problem isn’t the Bible. It is religions and their utter BS about what the Bible actually is about and what it really teaches. I mean where in the Bible does it teach that a “god” who “loves” you is going to torture you in hell forever burning torture, for 60 years of mistakes? “The wages of sin is death”. No life no eternal soul is found in any scriptures.

      The Bible also predicts the genetic degradation of modern people. The average IQ is less than 84 in this world and it is declining rapidly.

      The Bible and Jesus predicted that right before Armageddon when this world would be renewed that Churches, the prostitutes fornicating with governments would be destroyed.

      George Carlin tells it like it is, but he was raised Catholic I think and so that is why he thinks the Bible has this crap in it. Churches have done more to destroy life on earth than any other “useful thing” used by tyrants.

      http://sciencereligionpolitics.blogspot.com/

  • Guest

    I wrote a blog about this very issue titled :Church – Evolve OR Dissolve read here..www.TheTheoSphere.com

    • Hawthorne Timms

      Basically, Millenials understand that most of what the religions bring to the table is a demand for the modern person to be intellectually dishonest.

      It was easy to accept what people wrote about god, miracles, demons, etc hundreds and thousands of years ago. Nobody had the concepts of human rights we have developed today – so the moral bullying and power-based compulsion that came from threatening eternal punishment and the like kept people in line. Further, scientific thought and an understanding of just how the universe works is a recent development. So, people of those days can be forgiven, in some way, for their acceptance of malarkey.

      However, to do so now – to accept that demons, ghosts, spirits are running about, taking over people’s souls (or taking over pigs and throwing them off a cliff;), that corpses of saints rose out of the ground and strolled around Jerusalem when Jesus died; that God stopped the sun in the sky an extra 12 hours or so in order that his armies could slaughter another army – well, that kind of “faith” or acceptance requires an intellectual dishonesty from the modern, educated person of today.

  • TheTheoSphere

    Want to save your fellowship? Time to adapt. The advent of a global Theospheric Neurological Network is evolving through the understanding, development and application of ministry metrics. Ministry metrics is the science and process of discovering true or accurate value(s) within a spiritual community in order to solve optimization gaps utilizing big data technology. This technology can be compared to the invention of the printing press as far as impact goes. Truth be told, applying big data technology within a spiritual context changes the depth of relationships never quantified before and it will happen quicker than most people think. read more http://www.thetheosphere.com

  • world freedom

    The Internet now exist a place for people to stand against you and explain why faith is bad for people you can’t go anywhere on the Internet without being ridiculed by the people who are correct as people become more and more entertained by the Internet your attendance will drop even faster and faster.
    the atheists shall win is only a matter of time.
    only the truly ignorant unable to let go of the past will remain going to your churches.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvg3mRZXut4 Aronra

    Falsehoods of Creationism

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmQZ4f9f_Yw

    To comment that saying there are no transitional species

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKxRe0hAQmg

    to people who want to read the real bible

    http://www.amazon.com/Skeptics-Annotated-Bible-Steve-Wells-ebook/dp/B00I76ROXK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

    For people wondering what God actually is
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU&list=PLECD9ACF9D6F1F8FF&index=27

    Evidence
    against a recent creation

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_against_a_recent_creation

    http://uath.org/download/literature/Richard.Dawkins.The.Blind.Watchmaker.pdf

    Jesus is literally the bread http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation

    • Guest

      FAIL

      • LaDiablaBlanca

        The only thing that fails is Christianity. 4000 churches close a year. What a worthless religion.

  • EvidenceBasedDecisions

    People no longer rely upon the local cleric as their source of misinformation (sic). Whereas a century ago the local pastor was (supposedly) the font of all knowledge, now you can listen to a sermon whilst fact checking it on your phone browser – calling BS all the way through.

    To put it bluntly,
    1) There are no philosophcal arguments to demonstrate that any god exists,
    2) There is no evidence or rational reason to believe that a god exists.
    3) There IS already a scientific theory that explains a god free universe.
    4) We can already explain the origins of life in a god free universe.
    5) There IS already a scientific theory that explains the origin of species (our existence) in a god free universe.
    6) If we examine societies based on religiosity correlated with desirable social factors , we identify that religion fails “everywhere” (certainly on 43 indicators in 18 categories).
    7) Religion has had millenia to demonstrate itself – and failed miserably.

    When the epistemological basis of your belief system is “faith”, saying to a person “1 + 1 = 3, have faith” is NOT gong to win you any converts.

    It is time to abandon bronze age sky fairies, and move on the the 21st Century of evidence based reality.

  • Clive Johnson

    Perhaps the fundamental fatal flaw within organized Christianity is its inability to adapt. This doesn’t mean conforming to every fashion. It means being able to change when confronted with new evidence. As a general rule the faith has done a terrible job with this.

    One example is young earth creationism. I’ve encountered any number of people who have left the faith because they figure out, usually in their teens or in college, that this account of earth history is not true. Objectively not true.

    This can be a disturbing experience and precipitate a spiritual and personal crisis. “How can my parents have misled me? How could they be so wrong? Can I trust anything my pastor tells me if he gets this so fundamentally wrong?”

    In the past the churches could rely on closed information environments to maintain conformity. Now with the internet, you can’t prevent people from pursuing knowledge on their own. They can take their doubts into a world of information and see what else is out there.

    It’s difficult to imagine that the collapse in numbers of believers can be reversed.

  • Charlie

    Why are so many people opposed to the church making comments here? If you don’t believe it, why do you care to read about it or discuss it?

    • Aquaria

      Because it’s not a closed forum, cupcake.

      I cheer the demise of your genocidal hate cult.

  • JackieTrinity

    I personally enjoy reading all these recent articles about “why are churches losing their memberships?” and “why are our young people deserting our churches in droves?” Like this article, most other articles written by older religious folks get it all wrong. But that’s okay. The more out of touch you old men and women are, the more young people will see it’s okay to think for themselves.

    My theory is that lack of information was what kept religion strong for so long. Now that we can communicate globally, and information is more and more available to the general public, religion has nowhere left to hide. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  • http://www.coffeecuptheology.wordpress.com/ Darryl Willis

    I’d be interested in seeing the statistics on this one. Also there is the problem of cause and effect. According to the article the church is declining because of the type of preaching, many churches are works-based rather than grace based, and there needs to be individual revival.

    I’m glad the author pointed out “in my opinion.”

    One could list all the beefs one has with a particular church or small subset of churches and extrapolate that to all of the churches in the US. Since I haven’t done an independent, scientific, and statistically sound study I really cannot say what is going on “in the church” across America. I can only speak to what I personally know in my local context.

    In my own subset of Christianity, I’ve been noticing a marked increase in accepting a grace-based outlook as opposed to works-based. I’m seeing more believers reaching out to the poor and outcast. I have witnessed more folks trying to develop the mind of Christ in their day to day life and leave behind this idea that “church” is only about what happens at a particular place one or two (or three) times per week.

    If we are receiving missionaries, fantastic! We need all the help we can get.

  • PR8ZS8N

    The truth begins with atheism. Churches cannot solve people’s problems and offer no real world guidance. Religions are based on lies, and have no moral foundation. The internet is a light shining in the dark corners where superstitions hide. Start with atheism, whatever questions about life you may have, Iran issues you may be dealing with, and watch the answers become known to you.

  • Sarah Adirondack

    James 2:20 says that faith without WORKS is dead. It means that if we aren’t TRYING to live a holy life by avoiding things that are unclean and we are taking for granted Christ’s sacrifice then how can we really work to have faith in God and take his commandments seriously. You can’t pick and choose which scriptures you’re going to listen to and which ones you will. A person who is trying their hardest to live a clean and holy life is going to have a much easier life then a person who smokes for instance and shortens his life and dies of cancer. Or a person who avoids provocative styles of dancing may save himself/herself from sexual immorality. There is nothing wrong with dancing, though there are styles of dancing that would be wise to avoid. And there is nothing wrong with drinking, provided it’s in moderation and doesn’t go against scriptural counsel not to be a drunkard. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that drunkards will NOT inherit God’s kingdom and there is a list of other practices that would not make you approved for God’s kingdom. So, yes ACTIONS do matter as a Christian.

  • Jimmy Fields

    Funny, the Apostle John in Revelation 16:12 prophecied long ago that in the last days “the river Euphrates would dry up” or false religion would dry up to make the way for the coming of the king (God’s son, Jesus Christ). Indeed, false religions who have proved themselves hypocrites and extortionists and that preach falsehoods like hellfire and the trinity are going away. Revelation 17+18 points out that after the pouring out of the sixth bowl that the seventh bowl will be poured out and the Great Harlot, Babylon the Great (false religion) will be destroyed by the Wild Beast (United Nations) completely because Jehovah God will put it into the hearts of world leaders (wild beast) to carry out his thought. Rev. 17:17 When that occurs, know that the Bible really is a source of wisdom and that the end is about here for these man run governments because God’s Kingdom will rule in heaven AND on the earth where only the meek who recognize the true God Jehovah’s supreme rulership who has appointed his son Jesus as King will inherit the earth. Psalms 37:10-11, Daniel 2:44 jw.org

    • Guest

      The river Euphrates symbolized the Ottoman Empire. It was dried up to make way for the kings from the rising sun, the sun symbolic of righteousness (Malachi 4:2). This happened already in WWI.
      The great harlot was the city of Berlin. The trinity is a good enough description considering that man cannot fully understand God, it is enough that he understands his place in the big scheme of things. Do you understand yours, little fella? Hell is spoken of by Jesus, I guess you’re calling him a liar? Well you go ahead,
      but I’ll take the word of Jesus over that of some JW knucklehead anytime.

  • http://www.livingwithtn.org Red Lawhern

    When I talk with people of religion, I generally ask two questions that bear directly upon the premises of this article:

    1. When in the course of human history has the practice of humanistic ethics or the valuing of human beings for ourselves — apart from any concern for a Deity — ever resulted in mass atrocities?

    2. When in the course of history has the practice of religion ever FAILED to result in persecution, violence, and atrocity toward competitors, unbelievers and heretics?

    Apologists for religious faith contend that it is the excesses of individuals which get religion such a bad name. I counter that violence proceeds naturally from the nature of religion itself, and its requirement that we suspend our critical thinking and invest ourselves in being saved by an outside Power. People who refuse to think can be led to do almost anything.

    We should observe that there are many good people among religious believers — but religion didn’t make them that way. We can suggest from simple observation that they are charitable, accepting and loving people in spite of the silly dogmas in which they are encouraged to believe about “God’s Word” from the Bronze age of 3,000 years past.

    The first duty of every believer is to promote human misery and despair. People who feel good about themselves and their lives are poor candidates for intervention by an outside power. The same thought processes that operate in religion with regard to a Higher Power are present in Fascisim, where that power is replaced by The Leader.

    Why are people leaving churches? Perhaps it is in part because they are coming to realize that religion can rightly be characterized as the source of most of the great evils in our world.

    • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

      1) All the time. It’s still going on today.
      2) If you mean the real religion of the real God, never. If you mean
      the false pagan ones, which are man’s own invention, see #1.

      • http://www.livingwithtn.org Red Lawhern

        There are no “real” (as in factual) religions or real Gods. All religions are of humankind’s own invention.

        • Guest

          Prove it.

          • http://www.livingwithtn.org Red Lawhern

            I don’t need to, Guest. You are the one making the assertion of “real” versus “false” or pagan. The burden of proof is on you. Nobody I’ve ever talked to can point to an instance in modern times when a god has talked to or revealed itself to non-believers. That isn’t proof of non-existence. But it’s at least mighty suggestive evidence.

          • Guest

            You do if you want to win. Isn’t that what you are here for?
            To win your argument? Can’t you finish what you’ve started?
            You have claimed there is no God, so the burden is on you to prove it, though an unbeliever has little chance; ironically
            only a believer could do that, but why would he? And no,
            God isn’t likely going to talk to you or your dumb friends,
            so never mind it then. Explain instead how someone who commits atrocities could be following the teachings of Christ.

          • LaDiablaBlanca

            No one ever proved god was anything more than a fairy tale in the first place, so ‘he’ is kind of still in that category. The Christian God is not real outside your mind. Sorry..but not that sorry.

  • http://www.2911.org Dirk Helmling

    I’d like to first say that, many who’ve made comments here, have seemingly valid arguments. I’m not pretending to have the answers, at least not all of them. But I can say with some sense of surety that we have systematically altered the truth claims found in Scripture, in order to appeal to the masses. The result? A fundamental breakdown in how and what we perceive Christianity to be. It’s safe to say that the message Jesus preached and taught is NOT the message we hear from many of the pulpits today. There is little talk of sacrifice in the church. Little talk of radical obedience..the kind of obedience that could get you killed. We hear little, if anything about suffering for the cause of Christ. Instead, we get our spiritual bellies filled with nonsensical mumbo jumbo talk about how jesus is just waiting for people to accept Him. And once they do, they are promised to have all the holes in their lives plugged. No more pain. No more struggle. No more confusion. No more heartache. No more marital struggles. No more wayward kids. Blah, blah, blah.
    I spend my life teaching the Bible. I’m very fortunate to have a job that takes me around the world, helping people understand the real Jesus. Not the Americanized Jesus. But the Jesus of the Bible. And while I agree that there are many reasons that Americans have to disregard the American version of Christianity, I don’t believe we’d be nearly as quick to toss it all aside if we were living alongside of Jesus followers, lets say in China, who have risked it all, for the sake of the gospel. And today they’re sitting in cold, damp, prison cellars. Where is the prosperity gospel there? It’s NOT there. Why? Because it’s a big pile of crap. Jesus promised persecution would come to those who followed Him. He promised suffering would be a birthmark of those who have aligned themselves with Him. I can see why so many students walk away from their “faith”. The reality is, what they are walking away from isn’t God. It isn’t Jesus. What so many are walking away from is our American version of God and Jesus. Which sadly, is not even close to the biblical version of either. I’ve recently had 2 brothers commit suicide. That doesn’t fit well into an alliterated 3 point sermon. But, it fits in perfectly with a God that cannot be packaged and perfectly presented in a 30 minute sermon. It fits in perfectly with a faith that one must wrestle with, vehemently, in order to make sense of it all. Or at least partial sense of it all. That’s all. Now, feel free to throw your stones in my direction. I promise not to throw them back.

    • Aquaria

      Do you explain to these poor saps that your emo zombie deity will torture them forever if they don’t agree with him? Because that’s what he says in your book, several times. Why do you gloss over that indisputable fact? Do you need me to show you the verses where he explicitly says this–MORE THAN ONCE?

      You are obviously yet another degenerate for jaysus who absolutely refuses to use your brain long enough to think through exactly what it is that you sign up for when you declare yourself a member of this bloodthirsty hate cult.

      Do you not understand how much cruelty, hate and rage it takes to torture someone for five minutes, never mind FOREVER?

      Do you think that your monster deity doesn’t personally torture anyone clears him? If that’s the case, then you need to get over Hitler, because he didn’t hurt anyone, either. He only did what your monstrous deity did of setting up the system where it’s decided who will be tortured why, when and where. The ONLY difference between your deity and Hitler is that people targeted by Hitler could escape him. They could hide. The war could end. Or they could die, morbid as that is. At least Hitler couldn’t hurt them anymore after that, unlike your genocidal filth deity, who waits for them to die and then desecrates them forever afterwards.

      This is why I cannot belong to your murderous cult. I can never sign up for an idea that is so inhuman and hateful at its very core.

      This is what your cult is built around–believe or get burned.

      That’s the working definition of evil, and you have the utter inhumanity to call that evil “love.”

      And then you wonder why so many people find you abhorrent cretins.

      What’s sad is that the torture your deity would inflict would be far less torturous than the idea of spending eternity at the other place, sucking up to such a monster and his equally evil daddy 24/7 and, worse, spending it with the likes of you.

      I cannot think of anything more horrifying than that.

    • cleos_mom

      If you want to follow “the Jesus of the Bible”, please remember that he was a Jew of the first century CE; a radically different form of belief and practice from Judaism even 1,000 years ago.

  • Patrick Anarchy

    The Holy Bible is from illiterate history& is hypocritical. It is also very fear based and uses tons of psychotic negative energy to seduce believers into historical & spiritual lies. Lucifer in genesis 3 was obviously attempting to teach adam & eve that human society would be CHAOS without spiritual knowledge of good & evil. However Christians and their ignorant faith positions seem to enjoy hypocritical chaos &obvious spiritual ignorance. Christians have a totally paranoid and violent belief
    system. Stay educated so you don’t have to believe Christianity’s spiritual lies& fear based circular misinformation & discover true peace in spiritual knowledge of eternal positive& negative energy. Stop dehumanizing eternal souls with Christianity’s violent historical spiritual lies ! Discover peace with intelligent spiritual Knowledge. HOWEVER,DON’T EVER SELL YOUR SOULS TO SPIRITS THEY LIE JUST LIKE HUMANS. I am a gentle intellectual. If you’re psychotic & delusional & think that I am the “antichrist” get psychiatric care for yourself.

  • Theresearcher

    I really liked this article as a whole and think it is insightful as to many of the issues the church has today. As I am a student of apologetics, debate and worldviews I have seen firsthand many of the heretical doctrines espoused by today’s churches. I fully believe we are in the time of the great apostasy and it is sad to see so many people not willing or capable to think for themselves and reason their way through the bible. Wth that said I do disagree with two of your criteria for personal revival. First is when you say one must attend corporate worship regularly. But this corporate worship is the center of the heresy we face today. Unfortunately the church today is sending people to hell and not guiding them to heaven. You actually pointed out some of this doctrine in your article. I know many that will not attend a sizable church for refusing to listen to this evil doctrine( for instance lordship salvation or prosperity gospel). What is more important is that people seek to understand Gods word whether that’s in a church setting or with friends or individually. I do agree that there is great need for fellowship with believers but that is not necessarily found in the places of abomination we today call churches. Second if watching violence on TV means one must immediately repent and seek revival then by your own logic the passion of the Christ movie must be one of the worst evils known To mankind. It isn’t so please review your logic. Generalizations are dangerous. Again overall a great article.

  • Scott

    Wow I can’t believe the vitriol in the comments here. Clearly I am out of touch with the most of the people on this board. I ran across this article as I was looking for some statistics on the number of churches in the US. While I do not agree with many of the authors conclusions I would like to reach out to the community here who is obvious fuming at Christianity. Ultimately for me Christianity boils down to a couple of points – First you were created special. You were made for a purpose, and that purpose is to love. That is true for every man woman and child who is alive today. Please don’t let the messengers, who are no more perfect than you, take you away from the truth that you are special. This message if accepted in faith can change your life not only in this world but (if you grant me the argument that there is a heaven) in the next. As many of you may know Christ was asked what the greatest commandment is and he answered with two. Love the Lord your God, and Love others.

    I am a member of the church but share some of the frustrations mentioned here. I was looking for the stats on churches because there are 100,000 foster kids waiting to be adopted. That is roughly one for every 3-4 churches. If the church was really like Christ this is a problem that would be solved already. Though rather than tear them down I want to challenge my fellow Christians to live up to who they can and should be.

    Again for those of you who are so unhappy with the church, don’t let the messengers keep you from God. Christ only exploded in anger at the church leaders who put barriers in the way of the people coming to his father. I would humbly suggest that you explore in study and prayer for yourself with an open mind to find the truth. I am both a scientist and a Christian and do not find one to in any way cancel the other, but that is just me. You are special and created in the image of God, who I believe is alive and with you right now.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      This is kinda late, Scott, but I wanted to share with you why what you wrote is the opposite of helpful.

      First, you didn’t listen to what people actually said their problems with Christianity were, and instead gushed about “love.” If I don’t think your god exists, then I certainly don’t agree that he “loves” anybody or that anybody was created by this god for any particular purpose. Nor does a reading of the Bible make me believe that this god loves everybody. If you cannot demonstrate that your god exists, then you don’t really know anything about him. You are guessing. And I can’t speak for all non-Christians, but pardon me for not believing every religious nut making a guess about something supernatural. Your guess sits on a shelf with everybody else’s guesses.

      Second, your demand that we disregard the huge number of hypocrites in your religion is nothing less than a demand that we allow Christians to oppress and harm us. Would anybody who really values people advise an abused wife to return to her husband? Would anybody who really loves everyone put their children in a classroom headed by a known pedophile on a sex offender’s list? I certainly would not, in either case (though I’ve seen news articles about a Christian legislator who did something similar to the latter case, and I was personally counseled by a Christian chaplain to do the former). Your religion is known more for its hypocrites than for its sterling, shining examples. That’s not anybody’s problem but yours, but don’t blame people for noticing that your religion makes rules that even its own people can’t follow while under a threat of eternal torture, violence, pain, and mayhem that they claim to believe 100%. I’m not going to waltz into a sheepfold full of wolves on the hopes that maybe “Jesus” will stop them from preying upon me. I know better. I was Christian for the whole first half of a decently-long life. I know that Jesus isn’t making Christians better people. You don’t get to have it both ways: a living breathing god who improves his followers and meddles in their lives, but then also “sin nature” to hide behind when people point out how glaringly obvious it is that you don’t actually have that kind of a god at the heart of your religion and that its rules do not usually lead to people becoming improved.

      So first find a way to demonstrate, using objective, factual methods respected by anybody of any religious ideology (or none), that your god even exists, and then we can get to talking about why anybody sane should take this god’s demands, threats, and promises seriously. Good luck on the first; despite what fundagelicals think, there has not been one bit of evidence found over the religion’s 2000-year history to support a single one of its supernatural claims–and not much at all supporting that its myths even happened. They’re very good at hawking pseudoscience and revised history to try to support their myths, but sorry, none of it’s true. I care about the truth and don’t have time to waste on fooling myself.

      Sorry, Scott, but I’ll pass on your gracious invitation to get victimized and deceived. Fix your religion first, then worry about inviting people into your sheepfold. Right now all you’re doing is demanding we ignore the wolves in it and praising your wolf-filled sheepfold to the skies. It is grotesque to me.

      • oikos

        Thank you! Well said. Faery tales and nonsense have no place outside of a bronze age society.

        • Scott

          Oikos,

          When you say it has no place do you mean you would prefer it not exist or you think the protections in the constitution around it should be abolished? One is an authoritative political position and the other is a personal preference. In which way is your comment intended? Thanks for the clarification.

          • oikos

            I’m saying your delusions are not only a hindrance to advancement of society but in many cases cause outright harm. Look at the harm done to black people held as slaves for centuries. Women were also considered chattel and the current malice against LGBT people in the name of your god for example are what I would expect of bronze age savages.
            The Constitution allows you the freedom to believe in delusions but not to impose them upon the rest of a secular society. Once they infringe upon the civil rights of others then they are no longer protected. It is however the sheer hate that emanates from christers and the nonsensical rantings in the buybull that is driving people away from religion and why the churches mentioned in this article are closing.

          • Scott

            You do realize of course that slavery was ended by an entirely Christian movement both first in England and then here? Woman’s suffrage was also put over the top by a Christian movement (WTCM) as well (they were sick of drunk males making the rules.) Current efforts against sex trades, slavery, and fighting disease ridden areas (think Ebola) are predominately Christian driven and funded as well. If you want to point out Christians on the sides you don’t like at least acknowledge when you agree with them.

            That being said there are many Christian who take views I strongly oppose as well.

            So as a non-Christian are you entirely an atheist or more agnostic? Do I assume correctly that your beliefs are that you have no soul? That is a part of atheism I have a hard time grasping. No plan, no future, no over shared purpose? Regardless of any particular religion it takes a lot of faith to believe in nothing at all. Is this your belief or is it something else? I would love to understand better. As I mentioned when I started off I am clearly out of touch with the feelings of many on this board.

          • oikos

            This is it, the here and now. Make your life worthwhile here instead of pretending you get to go somewhere special when your body dies. My plan is to make sure I live well, leave the earth a better place and stamp out as much ignorance as possible.

          • Scott

            Ironically you and I agree on most of your statement. I also hope to live life well, and leave earth a better place. I also hope to find knowledge and truth which I assume you do as well. You seem like someone I would enjoy getting know in person but until then I wish you very well and I hope that as we both go forward we may find the truth for which we search and joy in the journey!

      • Scott

        Thank you for taking the time to review my thoughts. I would love to hear more from you as a follow up to some of your comments…
        1. Regardless of your thoughts on the existence of God do you agree that Love is fundamentally important? You are right if you feel that you are not created and are simply a body without a soul and I feel that you actually are a created SOUL and have a body then we are starting at fundamentally different places. The atheistic belief of no God and “Superman” as Nietzsche put it leads to his might makes right declaration. This put to the extremes in Nazism – no God, no rules – certainly can’t be what you are striving for. So what are your thoughts personally on where Love plays into your equation? No judging I am just curious.
        2. I do not demand anything. I am simply pointing out what I think agree with…Christians are no better than any people anywhere. It is a matter of whether you believe grace if offered to you even in your messed up state. I believe that, you do not. Christians struggle with all the same problems, addictions, ego, etc. of anyone else I have met. Going back to my first point without a focus on Love no progress is made in anyone’s personal life. You and I can agree that Christians are one of the biggest barrier most people have to accepting God. While I think you believe he doesn’t exist at all I believe otherwise.
        3. As for science and religion that is a fun topic that maybe we can talk about more in this thread. I will say that God’s work in my own life is the miracle I am focusing on. You can chalk it up to coincidence, positive thinking, or delusion but there have simply been too many instances of hearing from God in my life to write it off. My life is different because of the time I spend with God. That is just how I feel and you are welcome to feel otherwise.
        4. Finally you and I agree on the need to fix Christianity. I am focused on fixing myself first as that is what I have control over. If I feel the church should do more about orphans, I need to work with orphans. If there needs to be more love, I need to love more. The change in the church begins with the change in me. You are correct that rules do not usually lead to people being improved but I would counter that a relationship does.
        5. Finally I have no demands for you only hope and love. I understand at least some of your frustrations and why you think I am wrong. I think you can agree that both of us hope that the truth is found, regardless of how difficult that turns out to be.

    • oikos

      We are not any more special than any other life form that evolved on this planet.

  • oikos
  • cleos_mom

    So far the clerical response to the rapid growth of us “Nones” — some of us atheist or agnostic but others not — has been to analyze the Nones’ perceived weaknesses and failures and to re-affirm teachings that even a shallow level of scientific knowledge render unbelievable or even immoral. Presumably that will lure us back into the fold.

    Kind of like standing at the bottom of a deep hole, busily tossing shovefuls of dirt to the surface. Keep on a-shovelin’.

    • Scott

      Sorry if you feel that way. I can only speak for myself but actually I am trying to learn what drives the thoughts of those who don’t think like I do. Clearly if you are on this board responding to these articles you are seeking to learn something yourself, no?

      I also find much about the church that I am not happy with and I do not agree with many of the authors points.

      While I am a Christian I understand and can relate to an Agnostic view far more clearly that Atheist. Many of the views shared by others here, though I don’t agree with all of them, are helpful to me when you weed out the anger and name calling.

      I believe ONLY a shallow (and very narrow) understanding of both science and Christianity find them unbelievable and at odds but that is just me. Too many people from both sides argue from a more narrow and not well thought out position echoing the thoughts of others rather than exploring them for themselves. I do not presume whether or not you represent that I am just saying I see the same problems on both sides. To really get to know how someone else thinks face to face is far better that a few words on a discussion board – current hypocrisy noted:)

      I would simply like the best for everyone and hopefully a chance to come closer to the truth together. Eventually a mutual respect and search for the truth should lure us all into the same fold I hope.

  • leabiblia.com.br

    I want to congratulate ha all the beautiful news program information of high relevance to thank community.


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