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Why the American Church is Declining

By Josh Bond, 13 November 2013 · 3,369 views

Here's a great 2 minute video that summarizes why US churches are failing—declining attendance, donations and participation—while Christianity in other parts of the world surges.

American churches, he argues, are obsessed with money and not soul winning. Building buildings, budgets, paying high salaries, hiring unnecessary employees, and materialism are now the measurements of success in many churches and the standard by which many pastors judge their peers—rather than soul winning and discipleship! People sense this and the American church is in decline.

America now claims only 1/5 of the world's Christians. Yet we have 4/5 of the church's money—and we manage to spend most of it on ourselves. American churches have fallen into a dollar-centric, deformity of the gospel, the video says.

If the forthcoming book is 10% as good as the video, it will be a long overdue book that summarizes a lot of what I have thought myself about churches.

I think twice before writing here but I will do it with fear and trembling.

I cannot say if US churches are falling, because I do not live there, although I believe it is a fact. But I really can reply, when the video said "Around the world, on other continents the church is growing" (0:59), it does not apply to Brazil and, maybe, anywhere in the globe. Here in Brazil, specifically in Rio, is more easy to find gold bars walking on the streets than a church that preaches the sound doctrine. In a poor country like Brazil, prosperity theology is the flagship all around, joining with judaizing or catholic practices and all types of syncretisms that makes any true christian cry of sorrow. Because of all these facts a term was created here: something like "unchurchables" in english, it means, 'people who have no church to profess their faith' or 'people that simply do no go to church because it is impossible to agree with all that heresy'. And I am talking about historical reform churches as baptist (as I am), presbyterians, methodists etc. The sin and the cross does not guide the agenda of preaching, but 'what god must have to give you', it means, the Almighty God becomes a debtor of man.

But I think it is not a brazilian fact. You can read on the press that is also occurs in Europe, although perhaps for different reasons than Brazil. Europe is becoming less evangelized day after day and the fastest growing religion there is Islam.

And why I am saying all this? Because of the video (therefore I started saying I write with fear and trembling).

I was watching the video, very well made indeed, and in the end, I find out that it is, in fact, a ad for a book (!!) with those infamous titles "6 factors that", that could well be "7 steps for" or "the 10 reasons to…". But wait, this is not exactly the 'dollar-centric Americanized deformity of the Gospel"?? This is not exactly what is crumble the churches all around the world, mixing profanity with the true gospel of Christ? And this was done on the basis of an argument that is not true, namely, "Around the world, on other continents the church is growing". The video argues with numbers that US churches is failing, but the video does not say where in the world the church "is growing". Where is it happening? I really like to know because here in Brazil it is absolutely not. If we talking about "temples", yes, every day on every street corner opens a little door that self-entitles 'church'. But if you ask what is the profession of faith of this 'churches' is has none.

I'm so sorry if what I wrote seemed rude. I did it with good conscience to no offense any brother (even the author of the book). I think it is more a rant with all that mess than a critique.

God bless us.

In Christ,

The issue for the Church overall is growth of the people. Not in number, but in knowledge of the LORD. Are they soundly saved by the Biblical Gospel? and are they being discipled according to Ephesians 4? Back to the Bible . .  .all of it!


A second issue in the church: in what power does it function? Man's power & might, business savy, and pragmatism? or by the Spirit? Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit saith the LORD of Hosts_Zechariah 4:6. AW Tozer talked about taking what would happenif the Holy Spirit were taken from the modern church saying that 90% of church activity would continue on withoutany problem. However, if such a thing occurrred to the church in the bookof Acts he said the church would be at 10% activity. Back to the Bible Church . . it is profitable!


Do not despair! Christ has overcome the world!


In the King's Service,



Spanaway, WA

Hi Josh,

Interesting post and video.


Two books I've recently read (both by the same Author) seriously addresses this issue. However, the extent to which they go in and to makes it very interesting reading. I extremely recommend them. They are:

  • Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
  • You've Lost Me by David Kinnaman

Moreover, the Barna Group has done, and is continually doing extensive research in this very matter, and something really worthwhile digging your teeth into.


These two book that I've mentioned are to some extent quite controversial. That said, the research that has gone shows that what is happening in the Church and the lack of growth in it, is something that has been steadily happening for quite some time.


Although I'm not from your country, and never have been there, I don't think we are all that far behind you in the slump of growth. From what I've seen, and seem to notice is the extreme lack of evangelism by our churches. And this also includes the one I am in. I have a theory to this, but if I say it, I'm certain to cause a real storm over it..




We have all seen a lot, been around the block more than once, and wondered "Why Lord?"
I think that God is performing a winnowing out of His Bride, that is my opinion.  He allows through His grace sects, carnality and heresy to florish under the banner of Christ with the intent of testing mens hearts. To the brother from Brazil, I want to say the same thing is happening in different Asian cultures also - but still there are men/women who love Christ supremely. When all is said and done, at the end of our individual race, we will stand before Christ alone. Faith and trust in Christ is not a corporate exercise, but rather a relational endeavor.

Right now I live in a skid row rescue mission, and have for decades. Soft pleasing words to the donor's are what brings in the funds, not preaching against sin. In fact, just Monday, I had an argument with the "client" advocate about sodomy in the Presbyterian chuches - yes I'm just a client, nothing special. Her basic arguement was that she wasn't called to "judge" people, but rather to "love" them. Typical college trained social worker - sad. That is just one example of what the para-church organizations are embracing - and they draw from the local church bodies for their paid manpower. What is going to happen now that sodomite marriage has become so popular?

The church has fallen in love with intellectualism, denominalatioism, comfort, entertainment, good deeds, need for acceptance from the heathen - the list of failings is very very long. Over the years I've stayed in almost 40 different rescue missions, some better than others - but only 2-3 where the gospel was really preached so that men's lives were impacted or changed. A dear brother, Roy Brown, from Yakima Washington shared a story with me years ago when I was complaining about the same thing.

Once there was this King who was engaged to a young woman. She was going to be His Bride, with all the wealth & authority that would bring. The problem was that she only had one leg, one eye, was horribly scared all over her face - where there wasn't bad acne. She spoke with s slur and seemed a little mentally deficient as well. The King loved her dearly, but all the villagers made fun of her, mocked her. They made her life miserable. In your opinion, what do you think the King will do/say when he returns?

Prayer, love extended and personal holiness can change others in ways we cannot perceive. Our battle is not against the church, but against the Father of Lies and the Great Deceiver - Satan himself. The King loves his Bride because of her pure heart... That's what he sees.

Oh, Josh - I forgot to add.  Thanks for the video!  I think the book is worthy to consider - obviously the author has given the topic some thought. :)  THAT is something rare in itself.



this is true

also check this out


I believe that American Church or better yet this Church generation is Rev 3:15 the lukewarm Church. After 3 comes 4:1 the rapture the blessed Hope (of escaping).


very good inspiring videos 


It seems almost every generation looks back as well as to the present.

I was saved and started preaching in 1952 as a 21 year old soldier in the Korean conflict.

I was a pastor-evangelist in the 1950-1960's where I saw greater response to the Gospel than today. Was it me, the culture, or a period of drought by the Holy Spirit?

My personal belief is that we are in the Great Apostasy where the love of "many wax cold"

and we are"lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof."

I am today still an active pastor in my 80's. The church is a city neighborhood church that was once a great  congregation. Now it is just a group of old "has beens" waiting for our own funeral


Even so come Lord Jesus!


I am today still an active pastor in my 80's.


Wow Brother, what a way to go!!! This is what can be said about the Kingdom of God, you don't retire as God refires. You might beat Lewis Sperry Chafer. He never retire from ministry, and continued until he died, and I think he was 86 when he died.


I met a 92 year old Pastor at the Elim Conference in October, and he was still ministering in his church. So, for an old codger, you've I reckon you've got a bit of catching up to do.


I praise God for men of God like you, as I believe that you have a wealth of knowledge of the goodness of God under your belt, and people like you are really worth their weight in gold, and their blood worth bottling.


Now it is just a group of old "has beens" waiting for our own funeral


I'm not too certain about the "group of old has beens," as I reckon that you still have a powerful influence on people's lives. Moreover, the sea of souls you've lead to the Lord does not go unnoticed. Perhaps what gets me the most, is  you still are ministering the Gospel, and there are those still listening to you, and from that, the impact and influence you're having on their lives is still being registered.





the video is true. the Gospel of JESUS was replaced by Gospel of Prosperity. Scripture makes it very clear when u take your eyes off of JESUS, you will sink. one fundamental rule most of us are missing is "When you work in an organisation you have to follow the vision of the CEO. there are certain methods/processes we have to adhere to". what is going on in the church was after joining the organization everyone is using the resources of the organization towards their own vision, which is dangerous than virus/cancer to destroy the organization.


But GOD is faithful. HE always keeps a remnant of people to himself to keep the organizaion healthy and strong enough to achieve its goals.


which side are we?. if one puts a self examining question and throughouly reviews self than others, many of the problems will be resolved.


Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: (1 Tim 1:5)

I would like to speak to this.  I live in Florida, USA.  My experience with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is that He saved me from committing suicide.  He took away the disease of alcoholism from me, took me off the street from homelessness and allows me to try to shine as a light on a hill to those around me.  I grew up in the Catholic Church where all the priests wanted was money. I prayed to idols (saints). I prayed the same prayers over and over, just what Christ says NOT to do.  I learned about the punishing God from them. It took almost jumping off a boat and getting miraculous help from Christ to show me His light.  I see every day on TV the same infomercials from so called ministers telling me if I send them a seed of $108 (or whatever the amount is for that day) that God will multiply it several-fold.  My experience tells me that I was saved because God loves me, not because I could afford to pay Him.  Not because I deserved it, but because He made a promise to me, that if I called on His name and had faith I would be healed.  I have learned that when I speak of the Holy Spirit to others if they do not listen or rebuke me, I shake the dust off of my feet and go to another place. 

have you found a solid bible believing church Moosecck?  church.zip has locations of the nearest church of Christ. if you want to know more about what the churches beliefs are you can try allaboutchrist.net  for some written articles and a few old sermons (it hasn't been updated for some time now)  also you could try the gospel broadcast network GBN for streaming online.  I can promise you this: they will not ever solicit money from you. everything is paid for from church donations, even the cd's or dvd's that are offered are free of charge.  sounds like you're in a good place but it never hurts to get together with brethren for fellowship and moral support.

For those of you who have read "The Great Evangelical Recession," can you comment on the general tone of the book.  I may want to read it.  Is it more like a spiritual analysis by Francis Schaeffer  http://en.wikipedia....aeffer#Writings , the rebuke by Christ in Revelation 2:4, or more of a warning by Paul of the apostasy in 2 Thessalonians? 

History seems to show that the Church grows most rapidly in the face of repression and persecution.  Perhaps our freedom has induced the Church community in America to embrace our dollar based culture and economy and ignore the instruction to "BE YE Separate" (2Co 6:17)  The Church in Europe is also in decline; but in China, India, Africa and elsewhere where the Church is repressed and/or persecuted it is growing rapidly.

I just found this particular thread on Josh's blog.


I have attended for periods of time most of the doctrinal concepts and practices of the mainstream orthodoxies within America.  Go to Modesto, California and view the list of them, I have been to most of them.  


IMHO, they pick and choose scriptures to support their doctrine and/or they support the person(s) behind the pulpit or the headquarters of their denomination.  This leads to confusion and God is not the Author of such.


After some years of looking for a place of worship and finding one, I discovered that if one is following the Spirit of Truth that leads and guides one to all truth then one will find it.  Since the Comforter, I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you and we will dwell in you and you in us, leads and guides then we must follow that!  Christ in you the hope of Glory, to think as God thinks.  When you speak from yourself you speak from your own glory/ mind.  Who ever does the will of the God shall know the doctrine. I have been fortunate to have attended a small congregation that followed the Spirit of Truth, we all spoke the same things with no division among us doctrinally. I taught the high school age for thirteen years from the Spirit and found far too many times that the teaching for that Sunday coincided with the sermon that day.  We did not know what each other had been given to teach and preach.  Spirit led and spirit taught.


Sadly the Pastor had passed on and interestingly that small congregation fell apart.  I was as guilty as others in following a man as the leader.  Now and yet to this day I have learned many great lessons from my, and it is my, experiences of dealings with the church systems and not His Church.  I now teach at home churches to those that the Spirit of God and of His Christ leads them to and for some four decades now.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.



Seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened and He will come in.  If He does not come in, it is because where you are seeking and knocking is in the wrong place, it is within.  The kingdom of God comes without signs to be observed it is within.  It is the revelation of Who He is that His Church is built upon, no other foundation can be laid.  The NT writers pointed to that and 1John 2 expresses it well in the following: 


18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, eveneternal life.

26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

And the writer of Hebrews expresses this:   28 so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

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