What can we learn from trends impacting the church world? Here are a number of projections, extracted from an array of sources on the changing face of American religion.
How we understand the impact of these specific factors on the American Jewish religious experience will be critical. A variety of forces, including demographic trends, generational patterns, and social/economic factors, along with the impact of the pandemic, are reshaping religious life in the United States.
- The Rise of the Religious “Nones”: Based on a new Gallup Study (December 2021) religion in this nation continues to decline. “Less than half of Americans, 47%, belong to a formal house of worship. Church membership has been below the majority level each of the past two years. When Gallup first asked the question in 1937, 73% were members of a church, and as recently as 1999, 70% were.”
- Closures/Downsizing: In keeping with the data cited above, as many as 15,000 churches in this nation will close or will be forced to merge in 2022. “More churches will merge or be adopted than any period in 30 years.”
- Attendance: We can expect to see people come back to church once coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed and society begins to open up. But trends in other sectors suggest that attendance figures will not reach levels common prior to the pandemic.
- Rethinking Denominationalism: “Denominational structures will begin to look more like networks.”
- The Great Resignation: What is being called the “Great Resignation” is signaling that as many as 20% of church pastors will be resigning their pulpits.
- Part-Time Clergy: There are more than one million part-time pastors. This phenomenon is known as “co-vocational ministry”.
- Financial Support: Church giving will decline 5%. Many churches experienced increased giving or at least level giving in 2020 and 2021.
- Quality vs. Quantity: Vital churches will focus on engagement and content over attendance. When YouTube measures engagement, it not only looks at the number of people viewing…but how long those viewers are watching.”
- Micro Church: The “micro church” consists of a congregation of 30 or fewer attendees. While these churches were on an upward trend pre-COVID, what are we likely to see moving forward?
- Building Video Messaging: Live video chats and messaging are proving successful, as are Instagram Reels, short-form videos.
This is but one of a series of articles exploring our society’s various institutions and how they will be experiencing profound change.