CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Gallup research: Percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply & those professing no religious identity, up to 20% from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

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From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

… Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

Protestants’ Pie Is Shrinking Faster Than Catholics’

While attracting parishioners to weekly services is vital to the maintenance of the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations alike, so too is maintaining a large base of Americans identifying with each faith group.

Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply, from 71% in 1955 to 47% in the mid-2010s. Since 1999, Gallup’s definition of Protestants has included those using the generic term “Christian” as well as those calling themselves Protestant or naming a specific Protestant faith.

By contrast, while the Catholic Church has suffered declining attendance in the U.S., the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady — largely because of the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults today identify as Catholic, compared with 24% in 1955.

A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. This is partly because more young people identify as “other” or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion — 33% — identifying with no religion.

Bottom Line

…Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.

All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx

TRENDS & Millennials are Leaving the Church… But Black Millennials Aren’t. My colleague Natasha Sistrunk Robinson explains why.

“Millennials are Leaving the Church, Who Cares?“ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Missio Alliance, March 6, 2017..

…But Black Millennials Aren’t

In his article titled, “Why Aren’t Black Millennials Leaving the Church,” Bryan T. Calvin drew on the 2012 PEW Research Center to make the case that Black millennials are not leaving the church, and there are specific reasons why they are staying. He writes, “In general, the numbers consistently show that blacks of all ages are more likely to maintain religious affiliation that whites.”

Why is this? He continues, “It seems that blacks are more invested in the practices and rituals associated with church life…Maybe the difference is that whites and blacks view the institution of the Church differently. Historically, the black church has always played an important communal role.”

Calvin continues his piece with another observation, “Talking about Millennials leaving the Church without specifying which Millennials is only half the conversation. And if the American Church is willing to enter into conversation beyond the racial lines that has often been drawn up around it, they may realize that the solution to their ‘problem’ of Millennials leaving is closer than they thought.”

Solution One: Embrace Diversity

Diversity seems like a buzz word and the lack of ethnic diversity in various arenas seems like am ever trending topic these days. I almost hesitated to use the wording here. Yet I persisted because I don’t know if the reality of the lack of ethnic diversity— including the lack of value of diverse voices, diverse experiences, and diversity in leadership— has sunk in to the psyche of the evangelical church.

The millennial generation values diversity while the evangelical church gives diversity lip service. The millennials have observed this hypocrisy and they are voting with their feet. The writing is on the wall. White millennials will not come back to the church unless there is authenticity and drastic change…

Solution Three: Focus on the Group and not the Individual

This year, Christianity Today published an article titled, “How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently.” In it, they focus on Barna’s recent study regarding “Racial Divides in Spiritual Practices.” Concerning the state of discipleship, Barna reports that “black Christian leaders are more likely to say that ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship,” and mentorship as part of a group is a crucial part of fellowship.

This education includes the study of the Bible in a group, memorizing and meditating on Scriptures. Furthermore, they conclude that “Black communities tend toward communal rhythms of spiritual development” and that “one’s personal spiritual life had implication for social justice.” Finally, the report indicates that Black Christians place a higher value on their friends.

Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/millennials-leaving-church-cares/

TRENDS & More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious #PewResearch

by MICHAEL LIPKA and CLAIRE GECEWICZ, Pew Research, 9/26/17.

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Some people may see the term “spiritual but not religious” as indecisive and devoid of substance. Others embrace it as an accurate way to describe themselves. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the label applies to a growing share of Americans.

About a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) now say they think of themselves as spiritual but not religious, up 8 percentage points in five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between April 25 and June 4 of this year. This growth has been broad-based: It has occurred among men and women; whites, blacks and Hispanics; people of many different ages and education levels; and among Republicans and Democrats. For instance, the share of whites who identify as spiritual but not religious has grown by 8 percentage points in the past five years.

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/

TRENDS & More Americans now say they’re “spiritual” but not “religious” #PewResearch

by MICHAEL LIPKA and CLAIRE GECEWICZ, Pew Research, 9/6/17.

Some people may see the term “spiritual but not religious” as indecisive and devoid of substance. Others embrace it as an accurate way to describe themselves. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the label applies to a growing share of Americans.

About a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) now say they think of themselves as spiritual but not religious, up 8 percentage points in five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between April 25 and June 4 of this year. This growth has been broad-based: It has occurred among men and women; whites, blacks and Hispanics; people of many different ages and education levels; and among Republicans and Democrats. For instance, the share of whites who identify as spiritual but not religious has grown by 8 percentage points in the past five years…


Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/

TRENDS & Entitlement religion? Fewer people participate in religion … but more believe in an afterlife #SanDiegoStateUniversity

“It was interesting that fewer people participated in religion or prayed but more believed in an afterlife,” Twenge said. “It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality – thinking you can get something for nothing.”

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (March 21, 2016)–The percentage of Americans who prayed or believed in God reached an all-time low in 2014, according to new research led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge.

A research team that included Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University and Julie J. Exline and Joshua B. Grubbs from Case Western Reserve University analyzed data from 58,893 respondents to the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults administered between 1972 and 2014. Five times as many Americans in 2014 reported that they never prayed as did Americans in the early 1980s, and nearly twice as many said they did not believe in God.

Americans in recent years were less likely to engage in a wide variety of religious practices, including attending religious services, describing oneself as a religious person, and believing that the Bible is divinely inspired, with the biggest declines seen among 18- to 29-year-old respondents. The results were published today in the journal Sage Open.

“Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That’s no longer the case, especially in the last few years,” said Twenge, who is also the author of the book, “Generation Me.” “The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that Millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history.”

This decline in religious practice has not been accompanied by a rise in spirituality, which, according to Twenge, suggests that, rather than spirituality replacing religion, Americans are becoming more secular. The one exception to the decline in religious beliefs was a slight increase in belief in the afterlife.

“It was interesting that fewer people participated in religion or prayed but more believed in an afterlife,” Twenge said. “It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality – thinking you can get something for nothing.”

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About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution offering bachelor’s degrees in 91 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 22 areas. The university provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 35,000 students. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit http://www.sdsu.edu.

Read more at … https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/sdsu-fan031816.php

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

CHURCH TRENDS & Most Impt. Observations from The National Congregations Survey (NCSIII) #Duke #MarkChaves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The National Congregations Study (NCSIII) is, along with The American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving survey by David A. Roozen, one of the best snapshots of American Christianity and where it is going. You can download the free and complete report here.

Mark Chaves and Alison Eagle begin their report with what they designate some of their “most important observations” including:

  • The number of congregations claiming no denominational affiliation increased from 18% in 1998 to 24% in 2012
  • White mainline congregations, and the people in those congregations, are older than the congregations and people of other religious traditions
  • Most congregations are small but most people are in large congregations
  • People are increasingly concentrated in very large congregations
  • The average congregation is getting smaller, but the average churchgoer attends a larger congregation
  • People in smaller congregations give more money to their churches than do people in larger congregations
  • Worship services have become more informal and expressive
  • 10% of churchgoers worship in multi-site congregations
  • American solo or senior pastoral leaders are more ethnically diverse and older, but not more female, than they were in 1998
  • Thirteen percent (13%) of congregations are led by volunteer senior or solo pastoral leaders
  • Assistant and associate ministers and specialized congregational staff constitute 42% of the full-time ministerial work force and three-quarters (74%) of the part-time ministerial work force.
  • Compared to solo and senior pastoral leaders, secondary ministerial staff are more female, younger, less likely to be seminary educated, and more likely to have been hired from within the congregation
  • There is increasing ethnic diversity over time both among and within American congregations
  • Food assistance is by far the most common kind of social service activity pursued by congregations, with more than half (52%) of all congregations listing food assistance among their four most important social service programs
  • When congregations lobby elected officials or participate in demonstrations or marches, the issues they most commonly engage are poverty, abortion, and same-sex marriage
  • Acceptance of female lay leadership is very widespread, with 79% of congregations allowing women to hold any volunteer position a man can hold, and 86% allowing women to serve on the main governing board
  • Congregational acceptance of gays and lesbians as members and lay leaders increased substantially between 2006 and 2012, but acceptance levels vary widely across religious traditions

The National Congregations Study was directed by Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University. This report was written by Mark Chaves and Alison Eagle, and designed by Spring Davis. It is a much revised and updated version of American Congregations at the Beginning of the 21st Century, written by Mark Chaves, Shawna Anderson, and Jason Byassee after the 2006 NCS.

Download the survey here:  National Congregations Study (NCSIII) .

RELIGIOSITY & Americans Skeptical Of God But Think Heaven Is Real, Somehow

By Joshua A. Krisch, Vocativ News, Mar 21, 2016.

The United States formally separates Church and State, but it’s hard to deny that America is inundated with religious innuendo, from its controversial pledge of allegiance all the way down to its Judeo-Christian courthouse displays and faith-espousing legal tender. Yet fewer Americans pray or believe in God than ever before, according to a new study in the journal Sage Open.

Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who claim they never pray reached an all-time high in 2014, up five-fold since the 1980s. Over the same time period, belief in God and interest in spirituality appears to have similarly declined, especially among young adults.

The findings suggest that, “millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history,” says Jean M. Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University and coauthor on the study, in a press statement. “Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That’s no longer the case, especially in the last few years…”

The notion that the U.S. is inching away from organized religion is nothing new. Throughout the 2000s, studies repeatedly found that many Americans had lost faith in religious institutions. But scientists suspected the shift was from organized religion, rather than spirituality—that Americans had stopped attending formal services, but that they still prayed and believed in private…

But this new study suggests that Americans have a problem with God—and that our spiritual issues run deeper than paltry mistrust of religious institutions.

For the study, researchers pulled 58,893 entries from the GSS, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults. The results suggest a steep decline in the number of Americans who pray, believe in God, take the Bible literally, attend religious services or identified as religious—all factors that should have relatively little to do with America’s skepticism of large institutions.

Read more at … http://www.vocativ.com/news/299168/americans-pray-think-heaven-is-real/