No one reasonably disputes that attendance in Christian churches is in sharp decline. The real lingering question is “why?” which is one of the most important questions I take on in my new book, postChristian: What’s left? Can we fix it? Do we care?
Though it’s not solely responsible, the Internet — along with the way it changes the way we interrelate, communicate, seek and consume information — is certainly doing its part to contribute to the decline. And it’s not just Church that is feeling the pinch; any hierarchic system in which the institution traditionally has played the role of guard, gatekeeper or mediator is finding their authority challenged.
As for why now, the answer is more complex than any single factor. On the one hand, changing domestic, social and economic systems have caused us to spread out and move around far more than before. The churches, as a result, are no longer social hubs of neighborhoods any more. And along with being social hubs, churches also served as economic engines, as businesspeople networked after worship or over a potluck meal. Now we just use LinkedIn.