After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior over three decades ago, I understood along with other Christians at the time that the world was divided between the saved and the lost; between believers and unbelievers. But through the efforts of the “purpose driven” church marketing guys (Hybels/Warren/Drucker, etc.) the distinction changed from “believers and unbelievers” to the “churched and unchurched.” It seems that the emphasis has shifted from preaching the Gospel and right doctrine to growing the attendance numbers.
Up here in the Rust Belt, we have PLENTY of churches that DON’T preach the Gospel (Catholic, Episcopalian, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, American Baptist, United Church of Christ, Eastern Orthodox) and very few churches that DO preach the Gospel. In a recent sermon at our church it was stated that only 5% of the one-million people living in the Greater Rochester, N.Y. area attend a Gospel-preaching, Bible-believing church on Sunday morning. That’s a sobering statistic.
In the recent article far below, Barna Research ranks the most “churched,” “unchurched,” and “dechurched” cities in America. Barna defines the three categories of people as follows:
- Churched – have attended a church service in the past seven days, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral.
- Unchurched – have not attended a church service in the past six months, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral.
- Dechurched – were formerly either very, somewhat or minimally active churchgoers, but have not attended a church service in the past six months, excluding a special event such as a wedding or a funeral.
As might be expected the highest-ranking “churched” cities are generally in the Southern Bible Belt with the exception of Salt Lake City where 38% of the population is Mormon/LDS religious non-believers.
The highest-ranking “unchurched” cities are generally located on the East and West coasts as are the highest-ranking “dechurched” cities. Well, what do you know! Lil’ ol’ Rochester ranks as #20 on the “dechurched” list. Yes, it’s pert near spiritually dead up here, folks. People have just stopped attending churches in the Northeast Rust/Unchurched Belt because they don’t see ANY advantage to going through all the rigmarole to hear a spiritually-dead message compared to just sleeping in and watching Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN.
Sitting in a church pew surely never saved anyone, but churches that preach the Gospel are so needed. There are even some believers who don’t attend a church because they cannot find a solid, Bible-teaching church in their area.
Those who still believe America is a “Christian nation” need to travel up here to the Rust/Unchurched Belt on a Sunday morning.
Church Attendance Trends Around the Country