Preaching To The Choir
Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 9:24PM
Larry Kutzler

People that listen to Christian media, go to church or attend conferences are 95% Christians. So I thought I would see how well our churches are doing. 

7 Startling Facts: An Up-Close Look at Church Attendance in Americans:

1. Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church, half of what the pollsters report.


While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Americans attend a local church on any given Sunday.

2. American church attendance is steadily declining.


In 1990, 20.4 percent of the population attended an Orthodox Christian church on any given weekend. In 2000, that percentage dropped to 18.7 percent and to 17.7 percent by 2004. Olson explains that while church attendance numbers have stayed about the same from 1990 to 2004, the U.S. population has grown by 18.1 percent—more than 48 million people. “So even though the number of attendees is the same, our churches are not keeping up with population growth,” he says.

3. Only one state is outpacing its population growth.


Hawaii, where 13.8 percent of the state’s population (1.3 million) regularly attends church, is the only state where church attendance grew faster than its population growth from 2000 to 2004. However, church attendance in Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee—all of which have higher percentages of church attendees than Hawaii—was close to keeping up with population growth in each respective state.

4. Mid-sized churches are shrinking; the smallest and largest churches are growing.

While America’s churches as a whole did not keep up with population growth from 1994 to 2004, the country’s smallest (attendance 1–49) and largest churches (2,000-plus) did (see graph on page 52). During that period, the smallest churches grew 16.4 percent; the largest grew 21.5 percent, exceeding the national population growth of 12.2 percent. But mid-sized churches (100–299) - the average size of a Protestant church in America is 124 - declined 1 percent. What were the reasons for the decline?

5. Established churches—40 to 190 years old—are, on average, declining.


All churches started between 1810 and 1960 (excluding the 1920s) declined in attendance from 2003 to 2004. The greatest attendance decrease in that period (-1.6 percent) came from churches begun in the 1820s, followed by the 1940s (-1.5 percent).

6. The increase in churches is only 1/4 of what’s needed to keep up with population growth.


Between 2000 and 2004, the net gain (the number of new churches minus the closed churches) in the number of evangelical churches was 5,452, but mainline and Catholic denominations closed more churches than they started for a net loss of 2,200, leaving an overall net gain of 3,252 for all Orthodox Christian churches. “In this decade, approximately 3,000 churches closed every year; while more churches were started, only 3,800 survived,” Olson explains. In the 21st century, the net gain in churches has amounted to only 800 each year.

7. In 2050, the percentage of the U.S. population attending church will be almost half of what it was in 1990.

So what is the future of the American church? Does declining attendance mean declining influence? If present trends continue, the percentage of the population that attends church in 2050 is estimated to be at almost half of 1990’s attendance - a drop from 20.4 percent to 11.7 percent. Olson’s projections for the years leading up to 2050 are less than encouraging. He estimates a drop to 16.6 percent in 2010, and 15.4 percent in 2020.

This is just one website that lists the data collected about the Church in America.  I believe that some of the decline is due to the emphasis on making the Church popular to the culture, compromising on the exclusivity of salvation in Christ alone.  On the other end of the spectrum - people who have heard the same message for years make up the majority of those attending our seminars and conferences. My question is simple. Why do we preach to the choir more than we do to the non-churched crowd?  It’s because it is easier to build a ministry and monetary support around like-minded people than it is to reach the non-Christian. That is the truth!  It is much harder to convince the non-believer to believe than it is to convert a believer to believe in what you believe.  Preaching to the choir is the norm in most churches. Even blogs like this aren’t for anyone who is a non-believer: it is designed for those who don’t want to fit in to the status quo of a compromising Christianity. 

It is easy for any of us to be a back seat driver on the reasons the church fails in reaching the masses, but part of it is in the design of the modern church. We are designed for the believer, not the unbeliever. The church I attend most of the time focuses on the ideals of Christianity but does not have a strong design around the idea of reaching the unbeliever. It is a choir church, and therefore the messages are for the choir. The seven reasons happen because those churches became choir churches, and in time the choir gets old and irrelevant.

Christianity is at its best and thriving, when it is confronting, convicting, and conversing with the culture around it. When it makes people uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time, the Church is at it’s best. 

Preaching only to the choir will make a church unbecoming to the rest of the non-choir people.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Article originally appeared on City Sites (
See website for complete article licensing information.