Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).
Many are leaving church today in America. Will they come back?
Before writing the book The Great Dechurching, one of the book’s authors (Jim Davis) was speaking at an event and mentioned the phrase “de-churched.” It was a word the authors made up to describe their research (which is why my Microsoft Word® spell-checker keeps redlining the word).
After his speech, he was surprised that so many came up to talk with him until he realized . . .
I was talking about this audience’s friends, children, and grandchildren. They had seen the people they love most depart from the institution they need the most: the church. The de-churched aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet; they are people we know and love.
The numbers of the de-churched are astonishing, as the book summarizes . . .
The size, pace, and scope of de-churching in America are at such historic levels that there is no better phrase to describe this phenomenon than the Great De-churching.
Tens of millions of formerly regular Christian worshipers nationwide have decided they no longer desire to attend church at all. These are what we now call the de-churched. About 40 million adults in America today used to go to church but no longer do.
There is hope, and the book points to the following statistics . . .
- 51% of the de-churched say they think they will return to church someday
- Most still believe in the Trinity
- 61% still believe in the reliability of the Bible
- 62% believe Jesus is the only way
- An amazing 85% still pray to the God of the Bible
They have left for many reasons, including . . .
- 18% — friends were not attending
- 18% — attending was inconvenient
- 17% — suffering changed their view of God
- 16% — too restrictive of my sexual freedom
- 16% — worship online
- 15% — racism
You get the point. There isn’t a dominant reason, but many differing thoughts.
What can be done? The authors say . . .
If there is one single application from our research that you walk away with, please let it be this: invite your de-churched friends back to a healthy church with you. But unlike a simple nudge to go back to the gym, we would do well to open the doors of our homes and chairs at our table. We aren’t just telling them they should go back to church; we are inviting them into our lives, which includes church.
Wow . . . invite de-churched friends back to a healthy church with you!!!!!
The book finally concludes . . .
In the New Testament, specifically in Matthew 28:19-20, we find the same reality of God’s pursuing presence. But this time, God’s people were in a radically different context. In this case, God didn’t send an inaccessibly transcendent vision; he made a clear and simple promise. Here, God’s people were not being taken; they were being sent. It was not a punishment; it was a commissioning.
After 240 pages of research in this book, the final encouragement is to do what Jesus originally asked the church to do in the Great Commission.
Though there are many reasons for the de-churched leaving, there is only one way for the church to respond.
Amazing that this recent book gives one clear direction for the church today — go and make disciples!