Is This Why There Are More Churches Closing Than Opening in America?

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A recent Lifeway Research report revealed that more churches are closing than are being opened.

But before we blame this on COVID-19, this report is actually from 2019, a year before restrictions shut church doors and moved us all online.

In 2019, 3,000 new churches were started, but 4,500 churches closed.

One doesn’t really feel much optimism that 2020 improved this trend, given the number of churches struggling through pandemic restrictions.

But, it does leave us to wonder what is causing the deficit of churches in America.

Bible open on laptop, zoom church meeting

Perhaps My Own Experience Shines Some Light

While it is impossible to know the circumstances behind every church closure, or even why on January 1, 2020 America was 500 churches poorer than the year before, I’d like to speculate using my own experience from the past few years.

To be completely transparent, the past few years have been difficult for me on this blog.

There have been any number of things that have kept me distracted from consistently writing fresh blog posts: from GDPR regulations to social media changes that made it harder for people to find my blog; from my struggle to manage my time well to our new journey in homeschooling…

But the biggest distraction for me was and has always been the Internet and social media.

And my failure to adequately manage this distraction has kept A Little R & R in a holding pattern of recycling and repurposing old content.

In other words, sweeping old, moldy crumbs from my cupboards and serving them up as meals.

Is This Why There Are More Churches Closing Than Opening in America?

I am not going to make any definitive statements as to why evangelical Christianity is losing a hold on America right now, but I will share my own observations.

You lose ground in the spiritual realm before it is seen in the natural realm

My friends, there was a spiritual hold on America that was lost years before 2019 saw more churches close than open. 9-11-2001 revealed this truth that has been ignored by many pastors.

After we watched the planes fly into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, thousands of shattered Americans flooded their local churches….

and in the months that followed more Christians left than began attending.

This was the first sign that something was amiss. This was the warning cry that instead of offering answers and hope, pastors were sweeping out the old, moldy crumbs of self-help and pop-psychology, just as they had before.

The terror that drove these people into the churches wasn’t met with biblical answers, it was met with the same empty fluff they could find on the shelves of their local Barnes & Nobel.

This trend has evolved through the years into a woke, social justice gospel and is giving birth to deconstruction of faith, ex-evangelical communities, and progressive Christianity that has nothing to do with the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Instead of hope, these pastors are serving up social justice causes.

Instead of answers, they are serving up political pandering.

Instead of the gospel, they are preaching another Christ.

And the deep, deep emptiness that drives people into their doors is met with platitudes and psycho mumbo-jumbo that they’ve heard a million times on talk shows and podcasts.

And this turns the gospel and the sacred calling of ministry into a mockery!

Before God can send a revival, we need a reformation

My dear friends, what good will a revival be if the church doesn’t first experience a reformation?

9-11 could have resulted in one of the greatest revivals our country has ever seen. With so many people flooding the churches, we could have seen an outpouring of revival not witnessed since the Great Awakening hit our shores so long ago.

But instead of a revival we had an exodus.

What a travesty!

And that exodus has continued for the past 20 years until now more churches are closing than opening; and that is an indictment on the state of Christianity in America.

Can we hear the voice of God calling us back?

Yesterday morning, God woke me up at 3:00 A.M.

I quietly went downstairs, made a cup of coffee and purposed to not let my distractions tempt me, instead I leaned my head back in my chair and just listened for the voice of God.

And that is when I heard Him give me a personal challenge that is moving this blog in a new direction.

Away from the old crumbs of past content that I have written. Good, helpful, and even God-inspired as it is, He wants to speak fresh words.

Here’s what I know about revival.

As I have written about before, my most formative years growing up in a pastor’s home were shaped by a revival in our city that lasted for nearly two years.

By revival I mean that hundreds of people came to Christ.

Drug addicts were set free from their drugs instantly, marriages were healed, lives were dramatically changed.

Yes, there were healings, too; amazing healings, but that wasn’t the focus. That was never the focus; that’s not even what I remember most from that time.

What I remember most is how the altars were filled with people who were hungry for an authentic revival.

What I remember is how people willingly stayed hours longer than a normal church service and then kept coming back night after night because they were hungry for God.

And they didn’t come back alone.

What I remember is how the parking lot team would meet newcomers before they ever got to the doors of the church, and would lead them to Christ before they ever sat down to hear a sermon.

This was revival.

And it wasn’t birthed in messages of “How to Live Your Best Life Now” or “10 Ways to Cure Your Depression” or “Jesus Wants You to Be Happy”.

It was birthed in agonizing prayer.

It was birthed in a very real realization that without it, our church would be religious and filled with a handful of religious people dutifully showing up every Sunday to go through the motions of church.

It was birthed in the stark understanding that without it, the lost people in our city would die and go to hell, an inferno and demonic torture that never ends.

And we were not okay with that!

Before we would ever see the lost get saved in our parking lot; before we would ever see the altars full of people hungrier for God than they were for Denny’s; before we would ever see drug addicts and alcoholics set free, we would first have to agonize over our own dead, dry, moldy state.

And then let God’s agony for lost people become our agony.

And that requires something.

It requires time. It requires a lot of time.

It requires getting up early and shutting off our T.V. It requires shutting of Facebook and putting down our cell phone. It requires loving God’s Word more than our favorite podcast.

It requires looking our favorite distraction dead in the eyes and calling it for what it is: sin.

The sin of prayerlessness; the sin of fastlessness; the sin of apathy, passivity, and dulled senses are the greatest sins in the church of our generation.

They have deceived us into thinking that God doesn’t care about our fornication and adultery; that He doesn’t notice that we give it cute little names like “hooking up”….that we call our pornography cute names like “erotica” so we don’t have to feel how dirty it is.

They have deceived us into thinking that God is okay with us evolving on the issue of LGBTQ+.

They have deceived us into thinking that God is more concerned with social justice than righteousness and holiness in His house.

They have deceived us into thinking that God is unconcerned with the level of Eastern religious practices, mysticism, and witchcraft in His church.

They have deceived us into thinking that God is unaffected by our love of entertainment, filled with cursing, immorality, nudity, violence, and every putrid sin that nailed His one and only Son to the cross to die an agonizing death.

And there is no hope for revival as long as we love our deception more than we love the truth.

Lord, give us a love for the truth.

Oh dear God, do not let us go another day in our apathy, passivity, and love of sin. Do not let us go another day prayerless, tearless, and dull of spiritual senses.

Let us feel the weight of our own sin and let that weight push us to our knees in repentance and restoration.

And let that fire of reformation spread to our churches, our cities, our nation, and the world, until we see your church rise again in the power and might of the Holy Spirit; until we see a great harvest of souls – true, authentic souls, saved from their sin, radically changed from the inside out, and ready to become true disciples of Jesus Christ!

Dear sisters, I don’t know where this leads. I have no content prepared, apart from the few remaining podcasts I have recorded and my Good Morning Girls posts for the upcoming Bible study. I have no real direction, but I know as I listen to the voice of Holy Spirit in the early morning hours, He will give me that direction.

I feel a lot like Abraham, setting out on a journey but not knowing where I am going.

But all I can say is that for the first time in many, many months I have written from the depths of my being with tears flowing, and a realization that these words are not mine but His.

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  1. Thank you, Miss Rosilind, for your heartfelt words, which echo the same transformation happening in my own heart. I am in the middle of two separate Bible studies and they are colliding in a BIG BIG way. Holy Spirit is radically changing me from the inside out, and it all started about 6 wks ago when, as I was praying, I began speaking in tongues. There was an immediate and seismic shift inside of me! Now I am in the middle of your Dad’s study, “Where are we on God’s Time Clock”, and I’m realizing how very close we are to the last of the last days, and the urgency to reach the lost. But how??? That’s where the other study comes in; “The Way of the Master”…. that’s how! Your blog today echoes my deepest heart desires. I literally cry now when I think of the lost souls. Nothing else seems even remotely important to me anymore. I have been revived! Now, with Holy Spirit help, I need to pass on that blessing to others. Sister, God IS working in the hearts of His children everywhere. Be Blessed & Be a Blessing.

  2. I’m just reading this. I’m so behind in my emails. My husband is in a Gospel Bluegrass band. One of his fellow performers and our friend spoke on this at a performance this morning. Confirmation from both directions regarding how God sees sin. Thank you for saying what needs saying

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