For centuries, even millennia, the body of Christ grew and expanded with a consistent positive trajectory. Christ’s disciples spread His word to the nations, and the gospel spread like wildfire. Under persecution, Christians had such conviction that they died to spread the good news of the Lord, until eventually Christianity as an institution rose to cultural and political dominance through most of the western world by the middle ages.

During the era of colonialist expansion, many believers proselytized unreached people groups around the globe. Despite the unethical and sometimes even genocidal actions of many imperialist and colonial governments, many populations in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the Americas came to know Jesus as a result of political and economic expansion.

Recently, however, many of the long-time strongholds of Christendom have been rapidly losing not only influence, but also members. In particular, people in their late teens and early twenties tend to drop out of church at a significant rate, around two-thirds, according to multiple surveys and researchers.

Survey Says

Their reasons are varied, but here are some common themes found in multiple surveys and investigations:

Numbers do not tell the whole story, of course, and less popular does not always mean less true or valid. These are serious issues with deeper implications than can be addressed here. Clearly, however, the western church has fundamental problems that aren’t going away.

There is no sign that Millennials or Gen-Z will return to church in any significant numbers as they age, so this isn’t a matter of self-resolving demographic cycles. The majority of regular churchgoers and donors are 60 years old or older. This means that the church, particularly in Europe and the United States, is shrinking every year and has not been successful in replenishing its membership.

While some of the reasons young people are leaving are due to wider societal phenomena and the chaos of the world (which is out of our control), we should be concerned about these trends and try to address them earnestly in any way that we can.

How To Turn This Sinking Ship Around

As a start, here are some things ISOW believes can and will turn the ship around:

  • Answering hard questions
  • Providing an environment for healthy discussion and debate
  • Reaching out and assisting the needy
  • Focusing less on gimmicks, entertainment, and programs
  • Focusing more on authentic community, worship, and study of Scripture
  • As always, having faith in the Lord and genuine relationship with Christ

Just because believers are called to be separate from the world doesn’t mean we should ignore it, turn our noses up at those who disagree, and hope things will turn out for the best. If you haven’t already, join ISOW’s mission to Connect the Word with the World and provide high quality, biblical education to students around the world who might not otherwise have access to teaching or community. We engage with students, answer questions, and provide genuine meat to those who hunger to learn.

Want to know more about how to answer tough questions from people in your life? Start with the Defend Your Faith Bundle, or browse from any number of our other courses on complex and vital topics to today’s church. Visit to get started on an affordable online biblical education today! To view courses in Spanish, click here.”

Matthew Herr
Staff Writer, ISOW