USA - Church Membership Down Sharply

Arno Froese

U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are members of churches fell from 70% in 1999 to 50% in 2018.

The decline in church membership is consistent with larger societal trends in declining church attendance and an increasing proportion of Americans with no religious preference.

Although some of those who do not identify with a religion nevertheless indicate that they belong to a church, the vast majority of nonreligious Americans do not. In 1998 through 2000, one in 10 Americans with no religious preference said they belonged to a church, as did an average of 7% in the past three years.

Gallup has previously reported that church attendance has dropped more among Catholics than among Protestants. Consistent with this, the decline in church membership has been greater among Catholics. Twenty years ago, 76% of Catholics belonged to a church; now, 63% do.

Although the United States is one of the more religious countries, particularly among Western nations, it is far less religious than it used to be. Barely three-quarters of Americans now identify with a religion and only about half claim membership in a church, synagogue or mosque.

These trends are not just numbers, but play out in the reality that thousands of U.S. churches are closing each year. Religious Americans in the future will likely be faced with fewer options for places of worship, and likely less convenient ones, which could accelerate the decline in membership even more., 18 April 2019

Arno's commentary

The US is following in the footsteps of the European nations, as churches continue to lose membership. The reason: prosperity. That in turn leads to more independence, namely from God the Creator.

It is of interest, however, that the original Europeans who came to the American continent were generally not religious, as is often claimed; religion was a minor, sideline issue. HuffPost reports under the headline, “Religion in America in 1776”:

Around the time of the Revolutionary War, most American Christians belonged to Anglican, Congregationalist, or Presbyterian groups. In 1776, there were also around 2,000 Jews (mostly Sephardic) and five synagogues in the colonies. The average size of a church congregation was around seventy-five members, and religious adherence amounted to only 17 percent of the total population.

Another article claims that only 10% of the total population attended church weekly.

Nevertheless, when it comes to Bible-believing Christians, they have thrived in this country and have become dominant throughout the world. When it comes to seminaries, Bible colleges, and Christian schools, the USA can be considered the undisputed leader. Literature, radio, and television ministries have experienced a boost during the last five decades as never before in history.

In the midst of all of that, regardless of which denomination, the real Church is being built in any and all countries around the world. And when that Church is perfected, it will be raptured into the presence of the Lord.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

Read more from this author

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety