Barna Research Group recently completed their latest survey on “religious” trends in America . They reported that the number of Americans who indicated they attend no church services has reached an all-time high of 156 million . Fully half of those who said they attend no church indicated that they once did attend regularly . Almost 40 million have dropped out within the last 10 years . Of course Barna’s research includes all types of churches, but the trend explains why all the mainline denominational groups are in decline, as they continue to move further and further from Biblical authority .
My wife, Wendy, has been taking the opportunity to visit different churches when she takes her trips several times a year to assist in her mother’s care . She has now visited some 20 to 30 of
these . What was most impressive to her is the astonishing lack of Bible influence in most of them. She found that for most of these congregations, bringing a Bible was entirely unnecessary . Authoritative teaching and preaching was most often absent, while emphasis on various passing social causes was the theme, if there was any purpose at all for the gathering . For some, she could see no discernable purpose at all, and no apparent organization or clear leadership .
When a church becomes nothing more than a social gathering, it has forfeited it purpose for existence . Is it any wonder that when people with spiritual needs go to church only to find a poorly run social club, or a “minister” who doesn’t believe the Bible, that they give up attending church? What then can we take from this? First, that we need to see more churches raised up of the kind that do honor the authority of the Bible and do major on truth rather than social relevance . Secondly, that we are looking on fields white unto harvest. How many of those 156 million of our fellow citizens might we reach if they could get into a church where they could hear truth plainly declared and where they could find a congregation of genuine Christians trying to serve their Lord together?