America’s Church membership is at its lowest numbers in years, poll finds
Ask Americans if they believe in God and most will say yes. But a growing number have lost faith in organized religion.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Church membership in the United States has hit a new all-time low. That’s according to the latest poll from Gallup that says only 47 percent of Americans say they belonged to a church, synagogue, mosque or another place of worship last year.
Gallup’s research shows a continuing decline in church membership for more than two decades – among believers of all ages. Experts say the decline in church membership is mainly due to the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.
Experts believe these trends are not related to the pandemic but say the pandemic shed a brighter light on the decline.
Church membership throughout the Brazos Valley declined as well.
Kathleen Phillips, co-founder of the Middleway Urban Monastery in Downtown Bryan says the decline in church membership is not surprising.
“This phenomenon of stepping away from church is not new. It’s been going on since history began,” said Phillips. " We locally looked at the church numbers and the, and the affiliation with religion here in Brazos County and found that about 50% of the people are not affiliated with any kind of religion.”
Polling data also suggest many people still attend church but do not consider membership to be important, especially those who attend nondenominational or nontraditional churches.
Bishop Johnny C. Ebbs Jr. is the pastor of the United Full Gospel Church in Bryan. He says being a part of a church family is important because of the pastor-member relationship.
“The bible talks about how can you hear without a preacher and you have to come to the house of God to hear the preacher,” said Ebbs. “In order for an individual to be your pastor you have to have a personal relationship with them, you’re not going to be able to get it on social media or Facebook live or whatever.”
Both Ebbs and Phillips say in order for the church to reverse trends adjustments will have to be made. . Churches will have to be more inviting, less judgmental and offer a wider variety of worship opportunities.
“When they get here we need to not just present the same old stuff to them because a lot of times because the church won’t transition or the church won’t change people get board,” said Ebbs.
“Were not going to try and fix people. It’s up to the person to really think it out on their own and to be allowed to have doubts and uncertainty and yet be in a community of fellow seekers,” said Phillips.
Church membership was found to be the highest among people who live in the South and Black adults.
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