The Church Is in Decline—3 Responses

The American church is in trouble. (But don’t tell anybody.)

That’s one way to “manage” the compounding news that the church as we know it is shrinking and losing its impact.

Since releasing our book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, I’ve noticed three general reactions to the current state of the church.

1. Denial.

Some people refuse to believe or accept the trends. Or they attempt to deceive their people.

For example, the pastor of a small, struggling, traditional church wrote this in his church’s newsletter this month: “Traditional churches have not suffered major declines in attendance.” That statement is breathtaking in its untruthfulness, especially knowing that this pastor wrote that line inside a church that has seen its attendance drop by 90 percent over the years.

The facts of church decline have been well reported in research, articles and books—not to mention the observable evidence all around us.

2. Paralysis.

Many church leaders and members recognize the problem. They often realize numerous things they could try to improve their situations.

But they choose to do nothing.

Some wallow in grief and sadness, unable or unwilling to deal with their losses and disappointments.

Some are bewildered by their choices.

Some hope against hope that circumstances will magically turn around on their own.

Some fear change of any kind.

Some fret that any change will cause someone to get upset and leave, or trim their tithe.

Some just sit still, praying that they can ride out the deterioration until they retire.

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Thom Schultz
Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.