Recently the Barna Group, a well-respected research and polling organization, did a survey among adults in the United States regarding whether or not church attendance was important. Nearly half (49%) say it is “somewhat” or “very important”, the other 51% say it is “not too” or “not at all” important. The news is worse when young adults are asked the same question. Only 20% said that church attendance was important. When the pollsters went deeper with those they asked, young adults mentioned three reasons why church attendance was not appealing: irrelevant, hypocritical and the moral failure of church leadership. Interestingly 20% of young adults said, “God was missing from Church.”
Among adults, those who did attend church on a regular basis said they did so in order “to get closer to God.” For those who do not attend, 40% said they find God elsewhere and 35% felt the church was not relevant to them.
The Barna Group discovered that church attendance has dropped 9% since 2004 to a low of 36% today. Lastly, and I find this fascinating, those who do attend church consider themselves regular churchgoers if they attend once over four to six weeks. Ten years ago, people considered themselves regular churchgoers if they attended three or more weekends each month.
What should be made of this research? Clearly the United States continues to follow the lead of Europe when it comes to faith. Europe went the same way that we are going several decades ago. Increasingly we need to see that we in the Church are in a minority. This shouldn’t cause us concern, but I believe it should give us a sense of urgency. The mission field has grown. Those of us at COTHA need to hear the call of Matthew 9: 35-38 “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Let us pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. May He begin with us. May we continue to meet together and worship. May we seek ways to grow in our own discipleship so that we can help others become disciples. And may we never get overwhelmed by the direction our society has taken but stand firm in the truth of the Gospel and the reality of our Lord Jesus Christ!