Interested Culture/Uninteresting Churches
One of today’s Christian Post headlines reads “American Christianity Remains Strong in 2007.” The tagline is derived from a recent Gallup Poll reporting that the vast majority of Americans identify with a Christian faith. The breakdown looks like this on a national scale: 82% of Americans identify with a Christian faith. Yet only 62% of Americans say they are members of a church. And only 44% of Americans can be described as frequent churchgoers.
Applying these percentages to the current US population as reported by the Census Bureau, we get the following numbers:
249 million people in the US think they are Christians (or at least identify with Christianity).
188 million people are somewhere on a church’s membership roll.
134 million people actually attend church.
These figures mean that 115 million people in the United States identify with the Christian faith but have no way to grow spiritually in a body of believers. And 61 million of them are easily identified (they belong to a church). Clearly, not all of these people are orthodox Christians. And I’ve seen lower figures reported on the number of Americans who actually attend church. But the sad fact remains: our churches are not connecting with the vast amount of people who are at least somewhat receptive.
Once again, the polls show that many people in the United States connect with Christianity. The receptivity is out there. The opportunity for a great revival lies dormant beneath the surface of our culture. But perhaps a better spin on the story would read “Interest in Christianity Remains Strong in 2007 – Churches Do Little to Capitalize on this Interest.” Perhaps 2008 will bring a new breed of churches willing to become interesting to the people who are interested in what they are supposed to represent.