Statistics on the churched, unchurched, & dechurched


Recent statistics from a Barna study on cities with the largest and smallest church attendance show that 73% of Americans claim to be Christians.

38% of Americans are “churched,” having gone to a religious service in the last seven days.

34% are “dechurched,” being former active churchgoers who have not attended a service in the last six months.

43% are “unchurched,” having not attended a church service in the last six months.

OK, that comes to 115%.  Though I suppose “unchurched” includes those who aren’t Christians as well as those who still claim to be.  And isn’t there overlap between the categories “dechurched” and “unchurched”?

And what about those who don’t go to church every Sunday but who every other week or go once a month?  In a 2016 study, Barna classified as “churched” those who attended at least one service within the last six months.  Those numbers came to 55% of Americans being “churched.”  That study also usefully combined the number of those who go to church at least once a month and who say that their faith is very important to them, coming up with the category “practicing Christian,” a category comprising 31% of Americans.

Faith resists quantification and even using church attendance as a metric has its problems, since people don’t necessarily admit the truth about such things.

I was most interested in the category “dechurched.”  I know some of those folks.  They haven’t exactly lost their faith, though it’s evident that it’s weakened greatly since it hasn’t been fed in awhile.  Nor did they just drift away.  I know those two reasons account for some of the dechurched.  The ones I’m thinking of were very active at one time, but then the congregation went through some controversy and they just burned out.  (They weren’t in any of our congregations.)  I know trying to bring “inactive members” back into the fold is a challenge for pastors and elders.  Has anyone had any success in reaching the “dechurched”? [Read more…]

The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church–for free

Rod Rosenbladt, emeritus professor at Concordia-Irvine and a co-host at the White Horse Inn radio program, has a presentation that has become a classic, with tapes and transcripts passed from hand to hand like samizdat novels in the former Soviet Union.  It’s called “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church.”   Many, MANY have found it a lifesaver, indeed, a proclamation of the Gospel that is so powerful that they have come to faith.  Even long-time veterans–and casualties–of churches have come to understand through this presentation the full magnitude of the Gospel, with many embracing it for the first time.  It’s featured in a sidebar on this blog as being available from New Reformation Press.

Well, now New Reformation Press, with the support of South Orange County Outreach and Faith Lutheran Church in Capistrano, California, is making this this presentation available FOR FREE.   You can download it as an mp3 file, as a written transcript, or as a video!

I’ve heard Dr. Rosenbladt give this message in person and it blew me away, so hard-hitting and effective and pastoral it is, giving such comfort to troubled souls and making so real the full implications of Christ’s Gospel.  You want an example of evangelism?  Here it is.  It is addressed specifically to the casualties of American Christianity, to those who have become burnt out, disillusioned, and despairing due to the pressures, expectations, and culture of so many of our churches.

Listening to this presentation would be an excellent Reformation day observance.  In both its proclamation of the all-sufficient work of Christ and in its critique of churches that neglect that message, it captures what the Reformation was–and is–all about.

Get it or view the video here:   New Reformation Press » The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church.

The De-Churched

We have the Un-Churched, those who are unaffiliated with any church.  Skye Jethani at Christianity Today starts a series on another category of people who don’t go to church:  the De-Churched.  Those who used to go to church, but, for one reason or another, don’t any longer.  Read the whole thing, but note what he has to say about that other category:

In days gone by, missional efforts were focused on presenting and demonstrating the love of Christ to non-Christians. But in the 1980s a new term was coined to describe the growing number of North Americans without any significant church background. They were called the unchurched. Untold numbers of books were written about them. Ministry conferences discussed them. Church leaders orchestrated worship services to attract them.

The shift from “evangelizing non-Christians” to “reaching the unchurched” was perceived as benign at the time, but it represented an important shift in our understanding of mission. The church was no longer just a means by which Christ’s mission would advance in the world, it was also the end of that mission. The goal wasn’t simply to introduce the unchurched to Christ, but—as the term reveals—to engage them in a relationship with the institutional church. This paved the way for the ubiquitous (but flawed) belief today that “mission” is synonymous with “church growth.” (Another post for another day.)

Well, another new term is on the rise and gaining attention among evangelicals in North America. Those without a past relationship to the church are called unchurched, but there are many with significant past church involvement who are exiting. They are the de-churched.

via Who Are the De-Churched? (Part 1) | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders.

Are any of you de-churched? Why?

How might churches get the de-churched back?