Sunday, May 27, 2012

Churches Dying Out

Park Rapids Enterprise:
A new survey by the Association of Religion Data Archives finds that fewer people, even in highly churched North Dakota and Minnesota, are attending religious services, mostly in the traditional denominations.
In 2010, “religious adherents” made up 67 percent of North Dakota’s population compared to 73 percent only a decade earlier, according to the survey released earlier this month.
Adherents include members of religious groups, whether they attended services regularly or not, and close family of members; some groups do not consider children full members, some do, and the study sought to standardize its count.
The main denominations in North Dakota – two Catholic dioceses and two corresponding synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – each have around 165,000 adherents, representing together half the state population but 73 percent of the religious adherents.
And each body lost nearly 7 percent of its people in the decade ended in 2010.
In Minnesota, adherents made up 56 percent of the population compared to 62 percent a decade earlier.
The same two denominations dominate in Minnesota, but the Catholic Church had 1.2 million adherents and the ELCA 738,000, together making up about a third of the population and 60 percent of adherents. Catholic membership fell nearly 9 percent and ELCA membership fell nearly 14 percent.
Nationwide, adherents made up 49 percent of the population compared to 50 percent a decade earlier. The Catholic Church lost 5 percent of its membership and the ELCA 18 percent.
If churches are getting hit hard in the highly churched areas, they are getting crushed in the less churched areas.  Demographically, if churches can't attract younger people, they will literally slowly die out.  At least on the Catholic side, there hasn't been much effort made to try to attract younger people.  

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