Face-palm. I scarcely know where to begin with such an article.
Before I speak any further, I would simply reiterate what Biblically-literate Christ-followers already know: that Jesus said that “few there be who find it.” (See Matthew 7:13-14.) And the Parable of the Sower says that while many will hear Jesus’ teaching and appear to go along with it, very few would ever obey him and become true “doers of the word” and produce fruit a hundred-fold. True followers of Jesus Christ will always be a small minority. (So said Jesus.)
Thus, I fully expect the Christian religious world to be numerous in terms of bodies and yet mostly nominal. The Bible predicts exactly that. So however church attendance figures may go up and down really does not matter much to me.
Also, lots of churches close each year even as others open up (often much larger churches.) Indeed, in my own community I know of countless small congregations consisting of between twenty and fifty people where the members are mostly senior citizens. Many of those church will close in a few years as the last attendees die off and the lights go out. Meanwhile, just a few miles from each is yet another big new church and a sprawling parking lot where those senior citizens’ children and grandchildren enthusiastically attend. (Obviously, not every part of the country is that way but it is a very common phenomenon in America. Thus, megachurches continue to grow even as small congregations near them die out.)
I know many church planners and even church growth professors who have heavily documented the lifespan of the average congregation. Congregations grow, level out, and die off—usually in quite predictable ways. (Some have compared that phenomenon to a similar one with various mom and pop restaurants, but I will avoid that tangent for now. Even so, it is a common human phenomenon.)
As to whether “Christians themselves do not seem to want to pony up reliable numbers on this question!”, such numbers aren’t necessarily easy to collect. Yet I know Christian academics who specialize in such reporting. Seminary libraries are full of such books and papers discussing the numbers. (I studied some of them when I was in seminary long ago.)
For me, it’s all a big yawn. Any Christian who obsesses about numbers probably isn’t familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ. And as a senior pastor I worked under long ago used to say to me, “If you are packing them in every Sunday, you probably should ask yourself what you are doing wrong.” Jesus had a big drop in his crowds once people decided he wasn’t going to entertain them with constant miracles and free food. Jesus called his followers to take up their cross daily, join in the fellowship of his sufferings, die to self, and to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” None of those teachings are strategies for attracting big crowds in the long term.
I don’t get how the data is so hard to find… I am linking to the United States assemblies of God sites claims on growth.
Their major worship service attendance is just a yearly number… For example, between 2007 to 2017, they have an overall growth of 12.3%, while they have growtg in some areas, they have recorded negative growth in many others…
Is Friendly Atheist the ENV of atheism?
I’ve often asked of myself the very same question!
The parallels are quite amazing.
OK, it’s killing me.
What the hell is ENV?
ENV stands for Evolution News & Views, a website associated with the Discovery Institute.
You will often see it mentioned on this forum and anywhere else you see ID topics and related evolution controversies discussed.
The stakes on Peaceful Science may be high—but not that high. I suggest that you take a pleasant stroll in the Peaceful Science Arboretum and enjoy the calming scents of the flowers in the newly completed S. Joshua Swamidass Rose Garden & Outdoor Cafe. (The shaded koi ponds are my personal favorites after a long day of PS forum discussions and @Patrick posts.) At Peaceful Science we strive to keep your forum experience as edifying and amiable as possible.
Now you’re killing me.
@Dan_Eastwood speaks of spit-takes. That is a far less drastic (although not totally hygienic and courteous) Peaceful Science alternative recourse which is unofficially endorsed by the forum management.
On second thought, this is an international forum, so the usual infectious disease control measures should be observed at all times. Accordingly, spit-takes are not recommended. If you must react with a spit-take, please pause to shield your computer screen in deference to the health of other forum participants. You may also purchase an official Peaceful Science Sneeze Guard™ at the PS Gift Shop. (And if you use your Peaceful Science Platinum Discover Card, you get a double cashback bonus with all gift shop purchases.)
If being a Christian is not the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, I’m doing something wrong. It’s a call to suffer with Christ, to the death of self (properly understood), to being tempted till my last breath.
Who REALLY wants that? How much do we REALLY want Christ?
Thanks Fr Tom Hopko of blessed memory, who inspired most of these words, some of them verbatim.
After the crowds thinned out—because most were looking for free food and miracles—the Gospel of John reports:
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
— John 6:67 (NLT)
I really want a spit-take emoji!
I had a discussion on this topic previously in this forum: Ark Encounter Sold Fewer Tickets This September Than Last September
Allow me to give a wild hypothesis from a non-expert:
Many atheists do not get your point, because aside from the more philosophical among them, their value system is completely people-based. They cannot understand the idea of success that is totally divorced from people.
What is a successful organization/movement/religion/etc? In this view, it seems obvious that a successful entity is one that has a lot of influence and power over people. Thus, popularity, influence, and wealth is seen as the hallmark of something successful.
These are not the same things that measure success according to a Christian view. They are not playing the same game.