Rise of the “Nones”: A New Evangelism Challenge – Part 2 of 2

Last week in the first part of this blog series, I explained that a new trend is emerging in parts of the country — places that traditionally have been more religious are now starting to resemble highly unchurched areas, like New York and California.

Recent studies from Pew Research Center confirm this decline of Christianity and the increasing secularization of our society. The fastest growing “religious” group in America is now those who have NO religious affiliation whatsoever.

Pew’s research shows an 8% decline since 2007 in the number of people who describe themselves as Christians — from 78.4% down to 70.6%. And almost 4% of this decline is from mainline Protestant denominations.

Coinciding with this dramatic drop in Christians, is an increase in the number of people who are acknowledging no religious affiliation. Almost 1 in 4 Americans no longer associates with any religious denomination.

When asked, “what is your religious affiliation? – they simply choose “None.” The Pew study shows the percentage of “Nones” shot up almost 7% since 2007, from 16.1% to 22.8%. This surging category of atheists, agnostics and those claiming “nothing in particular” are now the second largest group, behind Protestants, in the American religious landscape.

It’s an even greater issue among young adults, the future of our church, as 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) identify themselves as “Nones.”

All of this points to the fact that we are living in less of a Christian culture today. So the big question becomes: How do we reach people who more and more are willing to say they are religiously unaffiliated?

I encourage you to start paying attention to this new research and recognizing this emerging trend. As more and more people are checking that “None” box, we have to adjust our approach in how we reach the unchurched. As church leaders, this is the new reality we face — and we have to face it head-on.

Click here to read Part 1 of this series.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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