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Jeffrey Jones of Gallup reports, “U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades” As Christian and Jewish Americans prepare to celebrate Easter and Passover, respectively, Gallup finds the percentage of Americans who report belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque at an all-time low, averaging 50% in 2018.
U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.
The decline in church membership is consistent with larger societal trends in declining church attendance and an increasing proportion of Americans with no religious preference.
This article compares church membership data for the 1998-2000 and 2016-2018 periods, using combined data from multiple years to facilitate subgroup analysis. On average, 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018.
As I transition in and out of working with leadership in several nations globally, I’ve come to realize some things more clearly on my recent return from East Africa. In Orange County, we have enjoyed the celebrated mega-Churches, which have led the way for the USA. All of these mega-Churches suffer from one problem-NO SUCCESSION PLAN IN PLACE!
Without a succession plan, the ministry energy invested in those Churches may have produced several enjoyable moments, but who is left behind to build on top of the foundation that was built-to advance any progress that had been accomplished. With no succession plan, the foundation that was laid is lost. And, the effects upon the local culture is minimal, at best! The lack of a succession plan is universal and pervasive nearly everywhere we go.
After working with Tamrat for several years in many countries, we’ve become convinced the lack of succession plans is due to extremely poor or non-existent leadership development in place.We are stubbornly committed to the process of small group discipleship as the answer to making leadership development a reality.
No succession plan, because leadership development is lacking, because the practice of making disciples has become the MISSING LINK!
Not only has Jesus left the building; most of the people are leaving, too!