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 planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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