Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Real Decline of Churches

From Belief Net-

Three news stories in recent days point to significant change in the landscape of North American religion. For decades now, the conventional wisdom about church growth has been that only conservative churches--those that take the Bible literally and embrace conservative politics--could grow. But it appears that conventional wisdom is being seriously questioned.

Take a look at these stories:

1. The Southern Baptist Convention--the largest and most conservative Protestant denomination in the USA--records a continued decline in baptisms and an increasingly aging membership. The oft-reported number of 18 million members has declined in the last decade to just over 16 million. And, according to journalist Christine Wicker (see her book, The Fall of Evangelical Nation), the internal number of active members may well be around 5 million people.

2. The Anglican Church of North America, the umbrella group for conservative Episcopalians who have left their denomination over women's ordination and full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons, has long claimed over 100,000 members. Recently, they admitted that only 69,000 persons in 650 churches in the USA and Canada have joined their association. There are 2.2 million Episcopalians in the United States and approximately 1 million in Canada. Thus, the conservative group--the one that has garnered so much media attention in recent years is a very small percentage of the entire North American Anglican membership--some 2% of the total. And with their rigid opposition to women's ordination, it is hard to imagine that this group will find much appeal with young North Americans.

3. President Jimmy Carter last week publicly explained why he renounced his life-long affiliation with the Southern Baptists in an opinion piece appearing in The Age. He denounced the Convention's leaders statement that women are inferior to men (created "second") and responsible for original sin as inherently discriminatory and that Southern Baptist views on gender were contrary to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the teachings of Jesus.

More here-



wlh1933 said...

So 100,000 member in ACNA has become 690,000 and 700 churches in ACNA has now become 650! When you lie to the public you discover that the public is smart enough to wonder what else you are lying about?

Given the ACNA mix, I wouldn't want to bet much of my retirement income on their future.

Lee Hicks

wlh1933 said...

So the typo of 690,000 should be 69,000, I suspect my typing errors can be excused; the PR deception of ACNA is another story!


ejd said...

I am disappointed to see you say the split is over women's ordination and homosexuality. I should think you would know better than to perpetuate the media stereotype. While watching the General Convention closely this past couple weeks, I was stunned to see the PB declare the concept of individual salvation to be "heresy", to see the convention vote DOWN a resolution affirming the uniqueness and of Christ and a committment to share the good news in a multi-cultural society and the leading of children to the Eucharist behind a rainbow flag rather than a cross! The split is over scripture and the divinity of Christ and his role as the one true savior. I am grateful I can now be an Anglican in Pittsburgh. If that choice didn't exist, I certainly would have to start shopping for another denomination. My church has left me.

Anonymous said...

At its founding assembly in June the ACNA released detailed diocese by diocese Average Sunday Attendance numbers. The ASA came to 69,000. To my knowledge ACNA still claims 100,000 members. The author of this story appears not to know the difference between ASA and total membership. If the numbers are correct the ASA of the ACNA is 69% of total membership. By contrast the ASA of TEC (727,000) is only 33% of claimed total membership. Who is really inflating their numbers???