What’s at Stake
We are experiencing in the United States the fastest and largest religious shifts ever experienced by our country. Tens of millions formerly regular Christian worshipers have decided to no longer attend church. The dechurched are those who no longer attend church. Around 40 million Americans used to attend church, but now do not. This is around 16 percent1 Approximately half of our adult population. Gallup, which has been tracking American religious membership for eight decades, reports that more adults are not attending church in the United States than those who do.2 This is a rapid change.
There have been roughly three periods of rapid growth in religious adherence in the United States: the First Great Awakening (1730s–1740s), the Second Great Awakening (1790–1840), and the four decades following the Civil War (1870–1906).3 In the US, from 1700-1776, the religious adherence increased from 10% to 17.5%. Interestingly enough, and perhaps contrary to popular opinion, “Historians of American religion have long noted that the colonies did not exude universal piety. There was general consensus that…