There’s no denying that the church is changing right before our eyes. George Barna comments on the significance of these trends on his blog site, www.georgebarna.com. This comes shortly after the release of his newest book, Futurecast, which examines national trends in a wide array of areas including family, lifestyles, entertainment, technology, values, attitudes, demographics, and media consumption, in addition to religious beliefs and behaviors.
An examination of six religious behaviors tracked over the past 20 years among American adults shows that five of the six experienced statistically significant changes during that time frame.
- Bible reading undertaken during the course of a typical week, other than passages read while attending church events, has declined by five percentage points. Currently an estimated 40% of adults read the Bible during a typical week.
- Church volunteerism has dropped by eight percentage points since 1991. Presently, slightly less than one out of every five adults (19%) donates some of their time in a typical week to serving at a church.
- Adult Sunday school attendance has also diminished by eight percentage points over the past two decades. On any given Sunday, about 15% of adults can be expected to show up in a Sunday school class.
- The most carefully watched church-related statistic is adult attendance. Since 1991, attendance has receded by nine percentage points, dropping from 49% in 1991 to 40% in 2011.
- The most prolific change in religious behavior among those measured has been the increase in the percentage of adults categorized as unchurched. The Barna Group definition includes all adults who have not attended any religious events at a church, other than special ceremonies such as a wedding or funeral, during the prior six-month period. In 1991, just one-quarter of adults (24%) were unchurched. That figure has ballooned by more than 50%, to 37% today.
The only behavior that did not experience any real change was the percentage of adults who attend a church of 600 or more people.
Question: What do you think this tells us about the church today?