Disciple Up # 222
Facing Our Failure (Thanks COVID!)
By Louie Marsh, 8-4-2021
Intro. I’ve been thinking about COVID’s impact on us in a different way lately. Then hearing that my dear friend Naomi’s Dad died of it yesterday and that she is down with COVID (please pray for her) shifted my thinking once again.
Setting the Stage:
COVID didn’t appear in a vacuum. It came at a time when the church in the United States and the entire Western World was in a huge and growing decline.
US Church Attendance Statistics
The US religious landscape continues to change at an accelerated pace. On the one hand, the number of devout Christians who belong to the older generations continues to decline. On the other hand, younger Americans tend to prioritize things other than religion. Thus, this trend is expected to persist further.
- In the last 10 years, the number of Americans who report they attend church services around once or twice a month declined by 7%
- Conversely, the number of American Christians who report they attend church services less frequently has increased by 7%
- In 2009, those who attend church services around once or twice a month exceeded those who attend church services only occasionally or not at all
- On the contrary, those numbers are inverted today: 54% of Americans nowadays say they attend church services a few times a year compared to those who attend at least monthly (45%)
- From 55% in 1965, mass attendance decreased to 23% in 2017
- Between 2010 and 2017, US Catholics have lost 800 parishes
- In 2010, 21.3% of the US population were Catholics. In 2017, 21% of the American population, only registering a slight loss and zero growth
- In 2018, among those aged 21–29, 36% of Protestants and 25% of Catholics went to church weekly
- When the first wave of church abuse charges emerged in the mid-1990s, religious attendance in the US considerably plummeted
The Most Common COVID Impacts
Giving. Some churches I know of, including my own, have seen giving go up. I know of many others who’ve experienced a drop – some quite large. I know of very few whose giving has been untouched by this.
Attendance – down – WAY DOWN! People got used to not coming to church and either don’t at all or only very sporadically.
COVID has only accelerated a process that has been underway for decades. With or without COVID church in the West is shrinking and will continue to do so. COVID has exposed a problem that we already had but weren’t really aware of just how big it is.
This Means: The church in the West has failed to carry out our Lord’s command to go and make disciples.
Which means – I’m a failure too.
COVID should be forcing the church and those of us in the Ministry to face our failure – but I’m afraid it isn’t.
The Haunting of Failure (2015)
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