Number of Christians declining sharply in U.S., research says

Number of Christians declining sharply in U.S., research says (Image 1)

With the red stage lighting, large projection screens and use of multi-media to spread its message, NewSpring Church isn’t what you might consider a traditional church.

“I would say it’s alive, it’s growing, it’s fun, it’s relevant and Jesus centered,” said Family Ministries Pastor Brad Cooper.

He credits that energy with boosting enrollment there by thousands in recent years.

It’s a non-traditional approach at a time when traditional church goers seem to be dropping off.

A new study on religion in America by the Pew Research Center found the number of Christians has dropped nearly 8% since 2007.

“It’s not necessarily that they’re believing less, but that it’s less important for them in their culture to say, yes I’m a Christian,” said Bryan Bibb, Associate Professor of Religion at Furman University.

The study shows that the biggest declines have been in mainline Protestants and Catholics. And it found a continued rise of Americans with no religious affiliation, especially among younger adults.

“For churches, they’re going to have to ask themselves, how do we now act as the church in a culture in which is less important culturally to be Christian,” said Bibb. “How do they need to then be more intentional about forming identity, making those kinds of religious connections to be a very central part of young people’s sense of self and sense of community.”

Cooper says NewSpring is well on its way to making those connections and meeting the needs of its growing membership with a more modern approach.

“It says that people want to know the good news. People want hope. People want to have their needs met and want to know practical, applicable ways that the Bible speaks to everyday life,” said Cooper.

The study surveyed more than 35,000 Americans and compared data to results in 2007, the last time the Pew Research Center examined religion.

The study also found that the decline in Christianity is seen across demographic groups. And people who identify as atheists, agnositic or no religious affiliation now account for nearly 23% of all U.S. adults. Overall, 70% of Americans still identify as Christians.

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