A poll released by Gallup around Easter 2019 has accentuated the awareness of the problems in the American church. This poll, released by Gallup, looked at church membership in churches in America. The results point to a deep running problem within American churches. This article will discuss this and the most recent stats released by GSS and draw some conclusions based on those stats.
The Gallup survey revealed some very interesting statistics. US church membership has plummetted twenty percent in the last twenty years. That’s not a surprise. Anyone who has been in the church for any length of time will undoubtedly have noticed attendance dipping and churches closing around the country. However, some of the other statistics may be less obvious. For example, those in the United States who claim to have no religion has increased from eight percent in 1998, to nineteen percent in 2016. One other statistic from Gallup should also raise alarm. People of my generation, the millennials have the lowest percentage of church membership at forty-two percent. I think this number is actually quite high based on the GSS statistics, but more on that in a moment. Of those Millenials with a religious preference, which is a mere sixty-eight percent, only fifty-seven percent are church members. Twenty-nine percent on millennials are non-religious according to Gallup.
However, the bad news does not stop with the Gallup Poll numbers. The General Social Survey data that was released earlier this year had a lot of bad news for churches. People who claim to be “evangelical Christians” make up a mere twenty-five percent of the population. However, among millennials, this number drops to a mere nineteen percent and is plummeting. By contrast, those of no religion number twenty-three percent of the population. Among millennials, the numbers are much higher, at thirty-four percent and climbing.
Even worse is the number of millennials who are actively attending church every week. That number is a mere eleven percent. By contrast, thirty-five percent of millennials claim to never attend church. Even worse, only twenty percent of millennials view the Bible as the Word of God. Twenty-seven percent view the Bible as a book of fables. For those of us who are fundamentalists, only eighteen percent of millennials identify as fundamentalists. Clearly, there is a problem in the church.
As a product of how badly the church has failed, there are a few other statistics from the GSS that are of interest. Opposition to gay marriage continues to plummet. In the general population, when asked if same-sex relations are always wrong, the number who say that same-sex marriage is always wrong is a mere thirty-one percent. In millennials, that number drops to a mere twenty-percent. Those who strongly agree with the statement that “homosexuals should have the right to marry” number forty-two percent in the general population. Among millennials, that number jumps to fifty-five percent. Another twenty-four percent of millennials agree with that statement. That means in total, seventy-nine percent of millennials are ok with gay marriage. By contrast, only thirteen percent of millennials disagree or strongly disagree that gays should be allowed to marry.
I’m working on a presentation which addresses how we got into this mess and how to get out of it, but I’ll give you a brief summation. The church has abandoned its foundations. It has reinterpreted Genesis to mean either long ages, or even added evolution to the Bible. By doing this, it has essentially ripped the rug out from under its own feet. Young people are not stupid. They can read the Bible and see that the meaning is a young earth created about six thousand years ago. When Christian leaders tell them they don’t need to believe what the Bible clearly teaches, a bell goes off in their minds. They think “Well, if the Bible doesn’t mean what it says in Genesis, maybe it doesn’t mean what it says when it says Jesus is God, or maybe the Cross and Resurrection never happened.” And when they go to college and are bombarded with evolution from people who they perceive as being nigh on infallible. Is it any wonder that they are abandoning the church in droves? If the church does not return to its foundation, it will join the European church as being essentially irrelevant.