People say regarding churches (especially mainline churches in the United States and Canada) that all they see are a sea of white hair. This sea is no longer a sea; it’s only a smattering of white hair these days…and many are closing and shutting their doors. Church attendance is dropping and seems irreversible.
The statistics regarding the Anglican Church in Canada (ACC) does not look good these days. Canadian membership in the ACC fell:
- 1.3 million (in 1961) to 658,000 (in 2001)…and that’s just membership. Actual attendance measures Anglicans who attend church at least twice a month brings this figure down to only 325,000.
Figures for American membership in the Episcopal Church (TEC) are not good either. Membership fell from:
- 3.5 million (in 1965) to 2.2 million (in 2007), which is a 55% drop.
Rev. Gary Nicolosi says that when the census is taken in 2011, “I think the numbers are going to be under 600,000. I think people are going to be shocked.” Statistics on average worship attendance show how healthy a church is and it does not look good for either church. Full article… These figures are from Reginald Bibby’s Project Canada, The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
- In the Church of England, only less than 1 million attend when membership is 28 million (obviously a skewed and bloated figure). And who knows what actual attendance really is?
Seminaries teach students how to rethink theology. But I think this is not the right direction to be going in. We must rethink how we do church, or mainline churches will deteriorate at an increasingly faster pace than even before. Extinction may occur within my generation.
The only churches that are growing are pentecostal and evangelical churches. It isn’t a secret. So why aren’t mainline churches learning from pentecostals and evangelicals? Is it theological pride, or fear losing one’s church identity, or both?