From the Tennessean.com:
That’s what almost every major Christian denomination in the United States has in common â€” from Southern Baptists to Missouri Synod Lutherans.
In fact, 21 of the 25 largest groups in the United States reported a decline or flat line in membership last year, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches. In most cases, the so-called birth dearth is the reason.
Carl Royster, a Church of Christ statistician, says that churches are seeing the aftereffects of the baby boom.
For example, in the mid-20th century, conservative groups like the Southern Baptists and Church of Christ saw their membership spike. “You had humongous growth in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s,” Royster said. “Now, the baby boomers are beginning to die off.”
Those boomers had fewer kids than their parents, leaving fewer descendants to replace them in the pews.
Royster said that he’s not panicking about the church decline. But he’s worried about the future.
“The sky is not falling yet,” he said. “But in a few years, it might be.”
Paul Prill, professor of communication at Lipscomb University and the part-time preacher at Acklen Avenue Church of Christ, says the congregation once averaged about 120 but fell to 50 when kids in the church grew up and moved away and older members became too frail to attend.
In recent years, young married couples settling in the area have begun returning, at a trickle’s pace, bringing the congregation back to about 80 members.
But it’s a slow process, Prill said.
“It’s hard to reach people who are in their 20s and are not going to church,” he said.
[HT: Ed Stetzer]