As I write this the day after the 4th of July, it might seem odd to say that the Church is headed for winter. I am not referring to the actual season of the year but to a time of seeing our growth curtailed and our influence marginalized. The speed of decline that has been slowly working through every denomination is picking up speed. Along with the decline in attendance comes a decline in giving. America is becoming more fragmented and secular and the Church is less influential than ever in addressing the concerns and needs of society.
Here are some crucial facts…
- Between 2007 and 2014 the percent of Americans who identified as Christian declined from 78.4% to 70.6%.
- The unaffiliated, known as the “nones”, increased from 16.1% to 22.8%. The largest increase was in the Millennial group, the churches future.
- Confidence in the church hit an all-time low in a 2015 Gallop poll of 42%.
- 7,000 churches a year close!
- Church membership has declined 23% since 1968.
- Giving has declined as a percent of Americans disposable incomes to from 1968’s 3.02% to today’s 2.0% representing billions of dollars lost each year!
Why 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 today is a bad thing for your church. Baby Boomers are the largest contributing donor group in America by dollar amount. Yet that generation is nearing and entering their retirement years. Right now if you are a typical church your largest donor group is Baby Boomers. In five to ten years you will see the amount you are taking from this one group decline by anywhere from 25% to 50%.
I believe that capital campaigns as we know them have about a five to ten year life span left. Few companies will tell you this. The truth is as a result of the last depression and the slow economic recovery all stewardship companies are seeing small pledge totals than in the past. We are in uncharted territory. Sadly too many are doubling down on what they did in the past. What worked in the past might be totally irrelevant for the present.
Here is my warning. In ten year’s time giving will be reduced to levels that will put many churches out of business or cause others to default upon their loans.
Now is the time to act! Sadly too many in the Church are content with rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Their feet are dry now so they don’t see the need to act. Yet there is a winter time coming and we must prepare for it now.
II Timothy is widely believed to be Paul’s last letter. He writes practical advice to his son in the faith Timothy as he is imprisoned in Rome. In the next to the last verse he says to Timothy, “Do thy diligence to come before winter.”
This is my call to you as a church leader, come before winter. Get ready NOW for what you need to build to sustain your ministry. Get out of debt NOW from past projects. Set your house in order because a winter season is approaching for the Church. Come before winter!