You can hear a lot of statistics about church decline, but we are struck by some troubling statistics — that all exhibit “seven” (odd and weirdly biblical). Joanne Swenson shared these statistics at Small: The Next Big Thing.
The latest Pew Research Center study, released in December, finds the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians is 71 % — a drop of over seven percentage points in just seven years. Maybe this is alarming, you might say, “But, 71% is not so bad.” Yet, are these 71% engaged in their faith? Are they shaped by their faith, growing in faith — or just nominal Christians? What might be a way to measure that?
One measure could be Sunday worship
Two different studies have arrived at a stunningly similar number: 17.7% of American worship in any given week. Consider that gap between 71% who identify as Christian, and the 17.7 who actually are engaged.
About 6 million people meet weekly with a small group and never or rarely go to church.
That Sevens Gap is our opportunity for small groups. For whatever reasons, those in that gap are not engaged in Sunday worship. Yet they are rooted in the Christian faith. Can we provide Christian community for them? Can we meet them sometime, somewhere, beyond Sunday morning and the sanctuary? If Sunday worship is a too-steep hill toward Christian community and faith, we’ll leave behind many in the Sevens Gap.
- Consider themselves Christian 71%
- Actually engaged 17.7%