Step into the average church in America and you'll find empty seats. Sadly, in many churches, the empty seats are far more numerous than the occupied ones.
Why so many empty seats?
Harvard scholar Robert Putman, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, says there are four major factors that have contributed to the decline of church attendance.
Church attendance is dropping fastest among children from the least privileged backgrounds. While children from better-educated and more affluent homes enjoy decent access to churches, working-class families are now less likely to attend church because they cannot access the kind of stable, good-paying jobs that sustain a “decent” lifestyle and stable, married family life — two key ingredients associated with churchgoing in America.
The retreat from marriage has left more and more children in single-parent homes. Children in single-parent homes are often splitting time between parents on weekends which makes it more difficult to attend church consistently. Studies also show that children whose parents have divorced are less likely to attend church.
THE RISE OF TELEVISION
Putman says the growing popularity of TV over the past five decades is a major ringleader behind declining rates of civic engagement, including church attendance. Television and pop culture encourage "lethargy and passivity" and "materialist values" which create a tension with vibrant church attendance.
The sexual revolutions of the 1960's and 1970's caused many young adults to steer clear of church. This has emerged into the tension of abortion and gay marriage which has left many young adults viewing religion as an intolerant force they want nothing to do with.
While these four factors have played a part in declining attendance in many churches, it does not mean churches cannot thrive in 2015. There are churches that are reaching kids and families and are exploding with growth.
In this post, I share about the 20 largest and fastest growing children's ministries in America. Check them out for ideas on how to build a growing, thriving church.