A hand erasing the word faith on a chalk board
If nothing changes, 35 million current young Christians will leave Christianity permanently by 2050.

Christian organizations Pinetops Foundation and Veritas Forum recently published "The Great Opportunity,". That 131-page report examines Millennial and Gen Z attitudes toward Christianity and how they will affect the next 30 years of the church. The outlook for Christian retention? Not good.

If absolutely nothing changes at all, 35 million youth raised in Christian homes will leave the Christian faith by 2050. The overall Christian percentage of the population will drop from 73% to 59%. The report calls this the 'base case' scenario.

And even in their 'best case' scenario, with strong efforts put towards retention, 26 million Americans will still leave Christianity regardless.

'Worst case' scenario? A whopping 42 million Christians will disaffiliate in the same time-frame. In this scenario, the Christian population in the United States will be just 54% -and declining- in 2050.

The authors believe that churches are bleeding, and calls the coming decades the "single largest generational loss of souls in history." But for the Christians lamenting the loss of followers, there is a light in the darkness. The authors of the report write:

"As a result of months of research, we now think we are at a pivotal moment in the life of the American church. What we found was the largest missions opportunity ever in American history, and if we move quickly, we can help introduce tens of millions of young people to Jesus over the next 30 years." Their branding for this crucial moment? The Great Opportunity.

Millennials Pulling Away From Church

The decline of the church should be no surprise to those who keep up with religious news. Gallup Annual Religion Surveys, Pew Research and other studies have all pointed to a population decrease in Christianity over the past two decades. 'The Great Opportunity' relied on those same reports when compiling data and projecting trends over the next generation.

In 1990, for example, about 85% of Americans called themselves Christians. Today, that figure is 73%. And even in the 'best case' scenario proposed by the report, that number will still drop to 64%.

The data supports that conclusion. A Pew Research Religious Landscape Study reported that only about 36% of the population actually attended a religious service once a week. And only 63% of Americans believe in God with absolute certainty, down from 71% the previous decade.

For the authors of 'The Great Opportunity', these facts present an urgent situation. "We use the assumption that the majority of religious switching takes place by age 25," the report says. "Religious preference remains constant after 35. This means that the majority of religious switching in the Millennial generation has already taken place." Gen Z just entered the switching window, but will begin exiting the window in 13 years. So if Christians are hoping to convert these younger generations, the clock is most certainly ticking.

Great Exodus?

Many experts have tried to determine why the younger generations are stepping away from the church. The report notes there have been no conclusive studies, but argues that the church's 'mixed' response to social justice issues and embracing of incendiary politicians may be partially to blame. Regardless, attitudes toward churches have undoubtedly changed over the years. Young people are questioning the tenets of their faith and not getting satisfactory answers. They are looking at religious leaders and not seeing their values reflected.

And simply, more and more people just don't believe in God.

"The Great Opportunity" discusses the problems in today's church and presents solutions to make Christianity more palatable for younger generations. They suggest, among other things, a serious investment in moving the church into the digital sphere. They also recommend putting a brighter spotlight on the church's contributions to the poor.

Opportunity Knocks

The report authors write, "[this moment in history] will be the largest single generational loss of faith in American history, maybe ever." They say the American church must seize the opportunity to embrace the new mission field. The report says that if they are able to turn back the retention rate to how it was just 20 years ago, "more people will be saved than during both Great Awakenings, the African American church growth after the Civil War, the Azusa revivals, and every Billy Graham conversion - combined."

But are they failing to consider that not everyone wants to believe in the Christian faith? After all, Millennials are leaving the faith for a reason. Pretending the whole affair is a colonial mission and treating America like a mission field ripe for the harvest may not be the best way to win back the hearts and minds of young people.

Where do you stand? Can Christians actually slow the Millennial exodus from the church - and should they? Or should they just focus on doing good deeds, and let people reach their own religious conclusions?

42 comments

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Education, associated with logic and reason can be a wonderful thing.

    ?❤️

  1. Chris's Avatar Chris

    I had a similar discussion with a Baptist preacher not too long ago. My point to him was that behavior is a bigger witness than words. My example was: We're sitting in a coffee shop and in walks someone who is obviously distressed. If he were to go to this person and start telling them about how it's all God's plan and trust in God and so forth, that person would most likely have a negative reaction. If I, as a pagan, offered to sit with this person and buy them a cuppa and listen or just sit with them, they would most likely have a positive reaction.

    As this article points out, the young people today are questioning religion. When they don't see the foundations of Christianity being practiced by those who are supposed to lead, they are having a negative reaction to it. As has been stated so many times in comments, why would they want to do business with someone who obviously doesn't agree with them?

    If more people who claim to be Christian were to start acting in a Christ-like manner it would be a bigger witness to the young people and they would be more convinced to join or stay in the church.

    And before I get a lot of "But what about Muslims?" and the like, yeah, that goes for any religion. If you profess to follow a religion of love and peace, prove it. Live it.

  1. John Eftimiades's Avatar John Eftimiades

    I am rather surprised it has taken this long for the exodus. With thousand of "people of the faith" operating as sexual predators of young people, promoting political policies that further their status rather than the "word" of God, or living lavish lifestyles at the expense of their congregation, why would any rational, free thinking adult want to believe in religion?

    1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

      ?

    2. flugo's Avatar flugo

      There's a big difference from 'chuch-ianity' and Christianity. The real Jesus is lacking in many churches and in their teachings. Real Christianity is unique, attractive, purposeful and life-changing.

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        That could also be said for anyone on mind altering drugs, as well as mind altering religion.

        ?❤️

  1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

    I realized at the age of 9 that the Christian church was not a place for me..To many hippocrates.

    For others I'm finding that people are waking up...And living a spiritual life and no need for the church. As most European descents has gone back to their roots that the Christian church have ripped from them by torture and death. I'm happy to see...

    1. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON's Avatar John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON

      I was in the same boat, although a year or so younger

    2. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'Too many hippocrates (hypocrites).' you say. There are hypocrites at the grocers. Did you quit going to the grocery store?

      1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

        The hypocrites don't preach to enslave my mind at the grocery store...

        1. flugo's Avatar flugo

          Oh, but they DO! With their promos, blatant advertising, and gimmickry they strongly try to influence, persuade, and convince to buy certain items, whether they believe in them or not.

  1. Ellis Keyes's Avatar Ellis Keyes

    Exodus is a good discription to free from bondage of illusionary death cult. It is a rising above enslavement and freedom from fear of punishment as represented in the torture and murder of Antichrist. Babylon the great whore is fallen. Thanks be to God and all.

  1. Carrie's Avatar Carrie

    The "religion" is so rigid and so confining, it is little wonder it is being cast into the dustbin of history....Goodbye, Good luck, Good riddance!

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    As you said, the church and all other churches should just focus on good deeds, and stop proselytizing....Peace...Tom B

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'tomb': No! The Lions, Boy Scouts, and welfare groups focus on good deeds, etc.
      The church ought to revert back to its original mission: telling lost , sinful people that only Jesus has the remedy for their terminal sin disease. That the cross of Christ has appeased the righteous God's demand for justice. And, Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life!

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        “Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life” Nah, I don’t think so. You’ve been reading too many bad novels. It’s not a very good story, and it has a really silly ending. Some might like it though.

        ?❤️

        1. Stephanie Willey's Avatar Stephanie Willey

          I believe in EVERY path to God .... that's the God of unconditional love of course, not the god who hates.

          1. flugo's Avatar flugo

            'staph wily': NO! Proverbs 14:12 warns of the perils of your thinking that you expressed in your 02 Oct comment. Matthew 7:13, 14 illustrates the general direction the masses are travelling. especially those with your line of reasoning. Jesus is the only Way leading to Life; the only 'path to God'. (John 14:6)

      2. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        flugo...Respectfully...i disagree...Jesus was likely an enlightened person who promoted love, compassion and forgiveness...he did nothing toward establishing a religion; certainly not an exclusive one...the reality is that no religion is necessary for people to be loving, compassionate and forgiving, and those are all that are necessary in this world...Peace...Tom B

        1. The Rev. Brother Robert Barker's Avatar The Rev. Brother Robert Barker

          Well said tom b. I agree,

          1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

            Thank you...Peace...

  1. Dr. Daniel R. Thomas. Ph.D. D.D's Avatar Dr. Daniel R. Thomas. Ph.D. D.D

    Where ever Paul went, he stressed meeting people at their own level. Doing so, he gained their trust. Then he planted the seed of "The Word of God." He lived "The Word" as well. Preaching the Christ crucified and his ascension. The Empty Tomb was his witness. Christ went to sinners at their own level as a symbol of what we should be doing. No where do we see Him pumping for the masses, with a concern for flash. He was humble when He did not need to be. He gave up everything for us.

    We need to just plant the seed. God will do the rest.

    People are not stupid. They can see a hypocrite from a mile away. Tradition as well gets in the way too. The young want nothing to do with either.

    We all really need to be more "Christ like."

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      What does being more Christ like really mean?

      ?❤️

      1. flugo's Avatar flugo

        'lyin'hard': If you'd just read what Thomas submitted, you'd find your answer to 'more Christ-like'. went to sinners at their own level; not 'pumping' Himself up for the masses; humble; giving of oneself for others. These are just a few of the countless attributes of Jesus.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          Ahhhh...ok. Thank you flugo.

          So, does that include the Jesus attribute in Luke 19:27 "But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me"?

          Doesn't that sound like pumping himself up for the masses? It just sounds like a big ego trip to me. Or would you consider that as being a humble statement? Just asking!

          Whatever it is, I don't think I want to have that Christ like attribute. I think I'll pass on that one.

          ?♥️

  1. Stephanie Willey's Avatar Stephanie Willey

    The authors of the report speak of the loss of faith .... I don't think that abandoning the church and organized religion is necessarily about a loss of faith. Speaking from personal experience, my own leaving organized religion prompted my own comparative regions studies and the history of religions. Today my faith is stronger than at any time in my life. I still do not ascribe to any organized religion, but I continue my studies.

  1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

    For at least twenty years the joke at most churches in the U.P. of Michigan has been, "Baptize 'em, Confirm 'em, and Marry 'em. Otherwise you don't See 'em." I like to think that if the Bible were reduced to just Jesus' words we'd be better off. I think of myself as a red letter Christian that incorporates God as incarnate in nature and I'm more at peace with that.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'marcannon': Think whatever you want, but 'There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12 'Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Him.' Only Jesus is the way to God!

  1. The Rev. Brother Robert Barker's Avatar The Rev. Brother Robert Barker

    What an opportunity for Progressive Christianity such as the United Church of Christ, Liberal Baptists, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Unitarian Universalists, Unity and other Metaphysical Churches to reach out and bring these lost sheep into a fold they would probably identify with.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I’m wondering what in your opinion are classed as “lost sheep”? It’s a very subjective term isn’t it? To me, lost sheep refer to those who are still grasping at man made mythical deities longing for promises made in a book made by those wishing for something they hope for. Just asking!

      ?❤️

      1. The Rev. Brother Robert Barker's Avatar The Rev. Brother Robert Barker

        Lionheart - I should have put lost sheep in quotes, "lost sheep", meaning they are not really lost sheep at all. These young people are learning to think for themselves and looking at alternative spiritualities apart for fundi-conservative-so-called orthodox Christianity. More and more people are seeing this kind of Christianity for what it is, fake and false.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          Got it! Thanks

          ?❤️

  1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

    The Myth That one must Subjugate oneself to Jesus was Created by the "Orthodox Church leaders 200 yrs after his Death.... and What a Turnoff the old testament is; Those that follow it, But Claim to follow Jesus the revolutionary(He Taught Love instead of Sacrificing, Equality instead of Slavery;) are the Worst of the Delusional.. I chose to Follow the "What would Jesus/Buddha/Goddess do if They were here today" rule of Active evolution.. and have tried to live my life as a "good Samaritan.. ie: Helping those Who ASK; No matter what they believe.. While Being Free from Cultist Rigidity and control That most Churches promote.. I Hope the Youth of the Future Find The path that Serves them Best But Do Not Allow the Media, Net and Virtual Realities to Lead them to Create Worse Cults...

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'rodge sneer': No! See 08 Oct reply to Hannon.

    2. The Rev. Brother Robert Barker's Avatar The Rev. Brother Robert Barker

      Well said Rod Gesner. i totally agree!

  1. ET's Avatar ET

    I could not agree more. Well stated!

  1. angel's Avatar angel

    Because people are tired of being forced to hate everyone because their gay, or they are wiccan, or because they blow their nose the wrong way! And this is to the public. Inside of the church, what do you have? Rich preacher's conning you out of your money and never there when YOU actually need help, christians bashing christians and competing on who is a "real christian", gossiping, lying, infidelity, coveting, judgemental and most of them are the most shallowest people anyone will have meet! . There is more sin and more hate in the church then there is anywhere else!!! The Christians have forsaken their Christ for rich entertainment and popularity. Churches that are suppossed to be sacred are being turned into concert halls with 50,000 giant tv screens, (hollywood), starbucks, and book stores. Eveything that Jesus hated about the Pharasee's, it's what his "people" have become. Christianity is no longer a religion, for the leader's, it's a buissness. Like a timeshare, tons of investors investing in property that they will never own. The leader's get richer and richer and con their people into giving more while their people are brainwashed to believe that they are "giving to God". God don't need money!! So what they are doing is calling themselves God....Think about it! ILet me give you an example coming straight from an Assembely of God. My daughter was in the Christmas program, which, btw sold tickets. I took her every night and sat through the production and after every show they brought this young woman up front to talk about how their sex trafficking program had really helped her out. Sounds good, right? Every night her story changed and each night got more and more outragious. One night she claimed that she was abducted and her mom called her at the house and told her to go to this program. What??? You know your daughter is being held captive and you don't call police?? BS! Second night, her mother abandoned her at birth and 20 years later after joining the program she found her mother in the same program! What a miracle, right?? No, there is NO way she would have even known this was her mother. Again...BS! And the sickest part about this is that I could see how painful it was for her to lie to everyone. But instead of having several John's, now she only had one...the church! They owned her and she did whatever they told her to. Another example. Christian music station. Announcer is asking for donations while interviewing this woman about how her husband was captured in Iraq for following christianity. We heard the whole spew about how he was captured and living in a cell, and constantly tortured yet, they would let him out every single day for a whole hour to listen to this christian radio show!! Many christians are going to get defensive off of this comment, but you want to know why? this is why. stories like these.Jesus didn't hang out with other christians, he hung out with the people you reject! It's not about how many bible studies you go to or which church you attend or even what gender your spouse it, all this is super petty, you should be looking deeper within. Jesus said that the kindgom of heaven is NOT above, it's within. And that is where you will find God and more people should look there! But your never going to find him in a building.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'angle': Your concluding comment is false, a gross generalization. . . . . . 'never going to find Him in a building'. What a load of crap! Where is the Biblical support for this? (Since you referred to the Scriptures in your inane blather.)

    2. The Rev. Brother Robert Barker's Avatar The Rev. Brother Robert Barker

      Well said Angel. I totally agree!

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