The Church Failing the Mission or Mission Failing the Church?
Either way, the facts are compelling us to "Reach Out"!
How many people do you know who will, most likely, not walk into a church building?
They are not alone. Western cultures are facing a major crisis. With 83.6% of America not attending a conventional church on a given weekend and approximately 95% of the people in other western cultures not attending a conventional church, we are praying that God will raise up an epidemic of church missionaries.
Approximately 80% of all churches in North America have reached a plateau or are declining.1 The vast majority of the church’s growth comes from “switchers” - people who move from one church to another. There is precious little conversion growth.2 Researchers suggest somewhere between 1-3%.
1990 — 20.4% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
2000 — 18.7% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
2005 — 17.5% of Americans attended church on a given weekend
2010 — 16.2% estimated church attendance
2020 — 14.4% estimated church attendance
2050 — 10.7% estimated church attendance if Jesus has not come.
Other western cultures, like Europe, Australia, and New Zealand record church attendance ranging between 2% - 8%.
As of 2008 over 3,500 people leave the church every day.10
The average church in the United States will... spend as much as 64 percent of its budget on staff salaries. Additionally, it will spend as much as 30 percent of its offerings on maintaining its buildings.5 Researchers say that churches spend between 82 - 96 percent of their financial resources on maintaining themselves.6 In 2001 “the total cost of Christian outreach worldwide averages $330,000 for each newly baptized person. The cost per baptism in the United States tops $1.5 million.”20
“Fuller Theological Seminary did a research study that found that if a church is 10 or more years old, it takes 85 people to lead 1 person to Christ. If a church is less than 3 years old, it takes only 3 people to lead 1 person to Christ.” 7 & 8
Between 1990 and 2050 church attendance will grow from 50 million to 60 million. Census estimates forecast a population growth from 248 million to 520 million people. In other words, America would need (as of 2008) 15,000 new churches of any kind every year to keep up with population.9 Read Article
Every year, approximately 4000 new churches open their doors. Every year approximately 7000 churches close their doors for the last time.10
The median age of North America is 36 years old. The median age of Adventists in North America is 51 years old.12
Where is the mission? Adventist to population ratios:13
South Africa-Indian Ocean Division 1:71
South Pacific Division 1:86
Inter-American Division 1:90
North American Division 1:319
"The greatest English speaking mission field in the world is North America." Leonard Sweet.14
Between 2000—2005, 20 million people, of all denominations, left the typical North American local church.15
Where are they going? Agreeing with other researchers, George Barna, in his book Revolution, has confirmed that many are going to house churches, in a spiritual quest of a more relevant relationship with God.
Why are they leaving?
“The new Revolution differs in that its primary impetus is not salvation among the unrepentant but the personal renewal and recommitment of believers. The dominant catalyst is people’s desperation for a genuine relationship with God. The renewal of that relationship spurs believers to participate in spreading the gospel. Rather than relying on a relative handful of inspired preachers to promote a national revival, the emerging Revolution is truly a grassroots explosion of commitment to God that will refine the Church and result in a natural and widespread immersion in outreach.”15
Something to ponder.
“Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His Word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."16
"Everywhere there is a tendency to substitute the work of organizations for individual effort. Human wisdom tends to consolidation, to centralization, to the building up of great churches and institutions. Multitudes leave to institutions and organizations the work of benevolence; they excuse themselves from contact with the world, and their hearts grow cold. They become self-absorbed and unimpressible. Love for God and man dies out of the soul."25
We believe the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ will give them hope, peace, and a purpose for living.17
We also believe that "Reaching Out" is the only way to impact this growing number of unchurched people.