Thomas McDaniels: Why people are leaving America's churches — and how they will survive

A mass exodus of church attendance in America is real.

Are people losing faith or just dumping the church?

We aren’t sure.

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Reports indicate U.S. church membership was 70 percent or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68 percent in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.

Can we skip church and still love Jesus? Yes.

However, the scripture commands us to gather in His name.

Church expert Carey Nieuwhof said, “I have to remind myself that mostly, my desire to skip, pull away and do my thing on my schedule isn’t solitude, it’s isolation. And while solitude is a gift from God, isolation is a tool of the enemy. And there’s no faster way to render a community ineffective than to isolate its members.”

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Are we staying away from church because we expect perfection? The church is not perfect. Neither are we.

Yes, the church has its share of problems. The church is one place that people do not enjoy dealing with problems.

We go to church to unload our problems, not upload them. No one enjoys a troubled church.

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The best churches welcome people with problems. And we all have problems. Right? People with problems need connection too. Connecting people together is a win. Faith communities excel in connecting people.

But the focus of this generation is on disputable matters. Matters like money. Finances are a major contention in churches.  We hear often that the church is all about money.

The best churches are diligent in serving their community. They love people with money and people without money. Few pastors are in ministry for the paycheck. They love and serve people.

A church that is not perfect for one is remarkable for another.

Consider the thousands of pastors with no staff, budget or amenities. They serve God and sacrifice their lives for others. Many pastors receive little or no salary. We never hear stories of the sacrificial pastor. The viral stories are about overpaid pastors. Like the ministers wearing thousand-dollar tennis shoes.

Metro Voice reported: "cross the nation, some pastors are wearing sneakers costing over $4000. Now, a sharp-eyed Instagram user has spotted them and launched a new account questioning the wisdom of flashing wealth. One Instagram account posted 28 photos of various ministers. In less than three weeks, the site gained over 123,000 followers."

Do we care? We do and we should.

Churches need money like all organizations. The church is the one place with no entry fee. The relevant churches use their finances to reach people.

Does everyone enjoy the same restaurant? No. The restaurant that is not perfect for some is amazing for others.

A church that is not perfect for one is remarkable for another.

A message to the cynic: the church is not going away. Jesus built the church on His Word.

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Despite the trends, the church of Jesus Christ will not only survive, but it will also thrive.

The church is not obsolete. It is an absolute for America.

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