Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 3 Negative Church Trends Every Leader Should Know

3 Negative Church Trends Every Leader Should Know

I write a column in each issue of Facts and Trends magazine. In the most recent issue, I shared some observations of big issues in churches today. I thought I’d share it here at the blog.

I am often asked about the future of the church, and as much as I wish I knew the future, I don’t. What I do have, however, is an accumulation of research, access to some of the best ministry thinkers and leaders across a spectrum of denominations and movements, and a critical eye on the ebb and flow of church culture. So, in looking at the trends in our churches, here are three I believe are worth taking note of today.


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Everywhere you look, you will hear tales of the decline of the American church. Some doomsayers are saying evangelicalism will die in a decade. This type of Chicken Little-ism is unnecessary.

The truth is that, yes, there is decline among self-identified Christians in America. According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), the number of self-professing Christians is down 11 percent over two decades. But that same ARIS study also revealed an actual rise in the number of evangelicals.

There are concerns – and I would say that we are increasingly losing our “home field advantage” in our culture. Yet, Christianity is not in collapse. It is, however, declining in influence and increasingly being marginalized in culture. 

To address the trend, we need a renewed vision and passion for God’s mission in our churches.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.