jQuery Slider

You are here



By David W. Virtue, DD
October 20, 2021

By any reckoning, the death of more than 700,000 people must be viewed as a tragedy of epic human proportions. More Americans have died of this disease than died in both World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War put together. It is on a scale America has never seen before.

Still there are millions of vaccine deniers and the beat goes on with upwards of 1,800 still dying each day. The death toll in the U.S. has eclipsed those of every other country.

So how has this fact impacted churches across the country? By most reckoning, badly. Churches were forced to close their doors, invent Zoom services, with pastors and priests divided over government and medical mandates to wear masks, with cries of freedom ringing from pulpit to pew. There have been a multitude of lawsuits over the last year over various governmental orders to churches and faith organizations to simply shut down during the COVID -19 pandemic. Many have been resolved in favor of the churches' First Amendment rights.

Despite this, what has happened, is that the vast majority of churches have lost members with many not returning. Latest figures show only 64% have returned, with a third never returning.

The figures show aging demographics with fewer people in the pews, and a staggering loss of young people. Nones (people with no religious affiliation) are the fastest growing sector in the U.S.

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public -- and a third of adults under 30 -- are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

I put it to you, that this vast sea of so-called believers, and those who attended but now no longer do so, were nominal Christians at best. The seed fell on stony ground. They played the game of church; they went with the flow of cultural conformity or from parental push, but their hearts were never in it. The faith was still born in them. Even an evangelical denomination like the Southern Baptist Convention has lost over 2 million members since 2006. What does that say?

The Roman Catholic Church has suffered enormous losses among the young, and it is not just about sex abuse or Vatican banking scandals or papal pronouncements; it is because the faith was distant, cold and irrelevant to their lives. It was information (about God) but no relationship (with God). Who can blame them for not getting out of bed on Sunday morning to Zoom or planning on returning in person any time soon?

The same could be said for all the mainline Protestant denominations. The social gospel killed off whole generations. Why bother listening to sermons about current cultural and social issues when newspapers and organizations abound, offering exactly the same information.

When the church doesn't stand for the gospel, it falls for anything but the gospel. One has only to witness the enormous damage done pushing pansexuality onto the churches. Entire denominations have split over the issue, causing rupture and massive hemorrhaging of people who are not interested in taking sides. They just drop out. Churches that have taken a stand have been declared homophobic, uninclusive and lacking diversity. Many have left as a result.

Consider the politicization of the gospel in churches that has divided families and friends with people simply refusing to engage and staying home. Who can blame them?

So, we must ask, is this the winnowing hand of God? Is Covid the great church emptier?

Will we find that far from millions of men and women who called themselves evangelicals, the vast majority attend church only sporadically. They are J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy evangelicals -- evangelicals in name only -- a million miles from the kind of evangelicalism evinced by people like John R.W. Stott, J.I. Packer or C.S. Lewis.

In fairness, I am told by some evangelical leaders who travel extensively, that many evangelical churches do not engage in politics, they stay fixed on the gospel and while politics simmers beneath the surface, they are getting on with the business of telling forth the Good News.

Sadly, the most vacuous, empty-headed "Christians" in America today are evangelicals, say poll takers; they are mindless, thoughtless (but politically motivated) with many putting the Bible on a par with the constitution.

God will have none of it. Jesus, His Son, has no equal. He is the utterly and completely unique God-man, and He demands repentance. Unless we see that being proclaimed from the pulpits of America, the churches will continue to empty and close, with many seeing this as the winnowing hand of God.

For more read here: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/study.attendance.hemorrhaging.at.small.and.midsize.us.congregations/137586.htm

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top