Here are some sobering North American statistics:
In the United States, only thirty percent of young churchgoers continue to attend church after the age of twenty-two.(1) From 2004 to 2005 in the United States, 57 percent of churches with an average age over 40 declined in their attendance.(2) The emerging generations are the least likely to attend church on a given weekend, and increasingly so. Another study in 2006 concluded that only 33% percent of younger adults attend church on a typical weekend compared to over 50% of those over 55 years old.(3) A recent study from Princeton has revealed, “Young adults are less likely to participate in religious services than a generation ago.”(4) Statistics like these led C. Jeff Woods, from the Alban Institute, to conclude, “We seem to have lost a generation of youth.”(5)
The trends are similar in Canada…
…A survey of Canadians in 2000 revealed that 40% of those ages 18-34 believed that religious groups should have “no role” in public issues- an increase of 21% from those aged 35-54.(6) Only 48% of those aged 18-34 will pursue conventional expressions of Christianity through a local church while 71% of adults over the age of 55 will do so.(7) Only 13% of those 34 and younger that claim to belong to Mainline Protestant Canadian churches will attend weekly as compared to 28% of those over 55.(8)
1 Rainer, Thom S. and Sam S. Rainer III, Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishing Group, 2008), 3.
2 David T. Olson, The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of Over 200,000 Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 84.
3 Barna Group, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=10, (accessed May 13, 2008).
4 Wuthnow, Robert, After the Baby Boom: How Twenty- and Thirty- Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 214.
5 Woods, C. Jeff, Congregational Megatrends. New York, NY: Alban Institute, 1996), 41.
6 Bibby, Reginald W., Restless Gods: The Renaissance of Religion in Canada. (Toronto: Novalis, 2004), 189.
7 Ibid., 197.
8 Mainline Protestant Canadian denominations include Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United churches according to 1999-2000 Statistics Canada Data as cited in Bibby, 75.