Dones and “umms” are leaving the sanctuary or loitering outside the door. But when have they actually left?
I have a friend who faded away from church during his undergraduate years. First, his church involvement became sporadic. Then he stopped attending events that featured worship or fostered Christian community. For a while, he continued to claim he was a Christian. A year later, he dropped the label.
Some may think he’s still a Christian because he once “got saved” and was baptized. He doesn’t. I don’t either. Regardless of one’s theory of salvation, it’s clear that, although God hasn’t given up on him, he has quit church.
My friend is not alone. He’s among the many convinced there may be something to this whole Jesus business but who’ve disconnected from Christian community.
“People who say they don’t have a religious identity—though many still embrace some Christian beliefs and engage in various spiritual practices—are projected to rise from about 30 percent today to as much as 52 percent in 50 years,” writes CT reporter Daniel Silliman in response to recent Pew Research Center data.
The pandemic is also part of the faith picture in America. In “Rise of the Umms,” CT writer Mike Moore suggests that, just as COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in our systems and relationships, “this same accelerated unveiling has descended on the church, revealing a major decline in congregational involvement.”
“Recent data shows a majority of churches are below their pre-pandemic attendance,” he writes. “A study released early this year reveals that church attendance is down by 6 percent, from 34 percent in 2019 to 28 percent in 2021.”
For whatever reason—busyness, laziness, fatigue, …
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