Zero Members: 2040

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Jae

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"The Anglican Church of Canada’s first reliably-collected set of statistics since 2001 show the church running out of members in little more than two decades if the church continues to decline at its current rate, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Friday, Nov. 9....

....In a response to a question on how other Canadian churches were faring, (Rev. Neil) Elliot said data collected by the United Church of Canada also showed 2040 as a 'zero-member date.'"

- source: ‘Wake-up call’: CoGS hears statistics report on church membership decline – Anglican Journal

What do you think the factors are in the decline of these denominations, while other denominations are holding their own or even growing? What should be the perspective of these fading denominations as they approach 2040?
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Statistically, by 2040, all of the boomers are going to be dead. So if you start in the sixties looking at membership there is and constantly will be a dying off of members, while there hasn’t been a similar explosion of the population since. Add to it that we are going to have significant threads to lives through natural catastrophes in the time until then, there is going to be a lot less of any denomination.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Statistically, by 2040, all of the boomers are going to be dead. So if you start in the sixties looking at membership there is and constantly will be a dying off of members, while there hasn’t been a similar explosion of the population since. Add to it that we are going to have significant threads to lives through natural catastrophes in the time until then, there is going to be a lot less of any denomination.
Having said that, depending on future politics with regards to refugees, there could be a whole lot of additional religious influences coming from other countries.
 

Carolla

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In reply to the OP question - "What do you think the factors are .... "

God is doing a new thing ... maybe institutionalized religion is not in the future plan ... but we're not getting the message & keep hanging onto the past view of church
 

chansen

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What do you think the factors are in the decline of these denominations, while other denominations are holding their own or even growing?
No threats to new generations leaving, and no ability to incorporate immigrants who generally have their own church or similar to attend. Plus fewer people believing in the first place. The churches who don't threaten will suffer first. The others will suffer later as the threats stop working and the second and third generations after the immigrants leave as well. You're all on the same curve, the only difference is which *part* of the curve.
 

Jae

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Statistically, by 2040, all of the boomers are going to be dead. So if you start in the sixties looking at membership there is and constantly will be a dying off of members, while there hasn’t been a similar explosion of the population since. Add to it that we are going to have significant threads to lives through natural catastrophes in the time until then, there is going to be a lot less of any denomination.
It sounds right Mrs.A but for that some denoms are holding their own while a few are actually growing. The former tend to be evangelical while the latter charismatic/Pentecostal.
 

Jae

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No threats to new generations leaving, and no ability to incorporate immigrants who generally have their own church or similar to attend. Plus fewer people believing in the first place. The churches who don't threaten will suffer first. The others will suffer later as the threats stop working and the second and third generations after the immigrants leave as well. You're all on the same curve, the only difference is which *part* of the curve.
Many of the immigrants who are coming are Christians - many of whom are evangelical or charismatic. The chief spots of growth for Christianity are at present Africa, Asia and Latin America.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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It sounds right Mrs.A but for that some denoms are holding their own while a few are actually growing. The former tend to be evangelical while the latter charismatic/Pentecostal.
Oh, you were trying to make a point here, which denomination will “ survive”? Or “ survive longer”? In that case, I am all with chansen. Threatening religion that promises survival if you say/ think/ believe as you are told will last a bit longer, as humans have the tendency to fall back to simple authoritarian structures in times of crisis. Same in politics.
Which doesn’t say anything about the “ truth” or “ quality” of same beliefs or structures.
 
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GO3838

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I've declared my own personal moratorium on despair.

It's so easy to look at statistics like this and be drawn into despair.

But my church has been very proactive in fighting for life.
We've sold our building, and are renting our sanctuary back. We cut our expenses by $40.000.
We are almost balancing our books (almost.)
Now we know that we could be financially solvent, and have no one to come to church, but we are nowhere near that point.
I have no idea what 2040 will look like for us (I'll be 71 years old then,) but I'm not going to despair about it today in 2019.

Let the day's trouble be sufficient for the day.
 

Luce NDs

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Recall that for something to go up ... something has to come down ... it is the enigma of cleaners and parasites ... life just being one position in a world dead to most alternate things.

Those outside of reality get to peek in on reality as if imaginary! Give the extremely real people that fear of being watched and making NU's! Can be subversive for those in recession ... some say it is depressing when it allows us to look up for the chit that falls upon us from on high folk.

Does the eagle chit today? Only in fitz ...
 

Jae

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Oh, you were trying to make a point here, which denomination will “ survive”? Or “ survive longer”? In that case, I am all with chansen. Threatening religion that promises survival if you say/ think/ believe as you are told will last a bit longer, as humans have the tendency to fall back to simple authoritarian structures in times of crisis. Same in politics.
Which doesn’t say anything about the “ truth” or “ quality” of same beliefs or structures.
Trying to make a point? Hmm... not sure. One of my profs posted the same link on Facebook and I found the discussion that followed his fb post interesting.
 

Jae

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I've declared my own personal moratorium on despair.

It's so easy to look at statistics like this and be drawn into despair.

But my church has been very proactive in fighting for life.
We've sold our building, and are renting our sanctuary back. We cut our expenses by $40.000.
We are almost balancing our books (almost.)
Now we know that we could be financially solvent, and have no one to come to church, but we are nowhere near that point.
I have no idea what 2040 will look like for us (I'll be 71 years old then,) but I'm not going to despair about it today in 2019.

Let the day's trouble be sufficient for the day.
Great to hear that your not going to despair and that your church has taken steps.
 

Luce NDs

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It is said that all things must end to give birth to something NU ... thus the mysterious god scheme in black and white ... it is a general unknown ... by patriarchal decree ... once known as a roue! In clusters a'ruse ... about Runes!
 

revjohn

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Jae said:
What do you think the factors are in the decline of these denominations, while other denominations are holding their own or even growing? What should be the perspective of these fading denominations as they approach 2040?
If we did the same kind of study of the very same denominations in the 1950's we would have had a very different projection of what 2040 would have looked like. Clearly something changed that nobody saw looking forward.

So, is it possible that these current predictions are also failing to see something as they look forward?

I think that one of the big issues tends to be the cultural homogeneity of Communities of Faith compared to the cultural diversity of the surrounding community. It is very noticeable here in NL where most of our congregations are still white. Whenever you congregation is a very visible variation from the surrounding community you can count on its days being numbered because it is no longer speaking to or serving the wider community in appreciable ways. Certainly not ways that will attract.

Here there are some cultural things which also play a part. Growing up I was the oldest of two children. My friends, predominantly white had slightly larger families of three to four children. Generationally we are watching families shrink in size. So even if you have faithful, generational families attending your congregation you are watching that family occupy less and less of the pew space and contribute less and less to the overall ministry of the community of faith.

About the time I was the first of two children my colleagues here in NL would have been one of many. Families of 6 or more were not uncommon in the rural out-ports of NL.

One other factor is the multiplication of options. For years Sunday was protected and because of the influence of Christendom Church activities were the only activities many could engage in and not fun afoul of the rest of the community. When that plank of Christendom finally gave way Churches, dependent upon that protection simply could not adapt and as a result, they struggle. It is not simply a theological issue. Though the more rigid expressions of Christianity have slightly more immunity. Communities of faith still held hostage by the Christendom paradigm operate on the premise that everybody knows where we are so when they need us they know where to find us which runs quite contrary to the Great Commission where the Church was to go out and seek not to hide and wait to be found.

Another factor was the onset of the business model where ministry was not seen in personal terms so much as profitability terms. When the constant refrain among leadership is, "How much is that going to cost us?" there will be less ministry actually happening.

I think that the Church (universal) needs to remember that originally it was a household movement and not a grand temple movement. We became fixated on larger edifices because we equate size with success (the reason the prosperity gospel is so difficult to kill). Materialism is so engrained into our thinking that we constantly equate quantity with quality. There is a relationship that is correlational between the two it encompasses more than a few variables. Joel Osteen has the biggest worshipping congregation in North America. Anyone care to prove that Osteen is the most faithful Gospel preacher in a pulpit? That said it is easier to gripe about the lack of numbers than it is to take steps to address the quality of experience. In my work with Natural Church Development and United Church congregations, the greatest impediment to applying a quality based growth program is the time it takes. Nobody is willing to invest the time so the quality stays the same and that comes with consequences.

I expect that the biggest issues holding back Communities of Faith of whichever stripe is their resistance to change (nostalgic longing) and their inability to be critically self-reflective. Add to that impatience for desired result and you have a breeding ground for failure.
 

mgagnonlv

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Bishop Jenny Andison (Suffragan Bishop, Diocese of Toronto) has written a response to the recently-published statement from the Anglican Church of Canada's showing that the ACC will runout of members within the next twenty years. Here's the link to her response: https://livingchurch.org/covenant/2019/11/13/church-decline-faithfulness-and-hope/?fbclid=IwAR3focUhRVdjF2dBgOCyK5e16np1CCnkSVArEf3xOBxr11ljcOee7G2MGRk

Herre is what I posted to the "Canadian Anglican" Facebook group.

Very nice observation. The challenge, I think, is to live to those expectations – hers, and most importantly, God's. I always wonder how many people in the 1950s that were actually committed Christians rather than social Christians.

As an engineer, I would also say that the geometric progression observed in the last 60 years would mean that we could decrease by another 50% in 2050. While losing 50% is very significant indeed, it still mean we have people around. Following that model, if we were 350 000 on parish rolls in 2017. then we would be 175 000 in 2050, 87 500 in 2080, 44 000 in 2110, etc. It is a very significant decrease – and it might be even more acute because some areas would be without a church, but it is not extinction.

That being said, Bishop Andison's analysis needs to be complemented by concrete actions.
– On the administrative side, we need to close redundant buildings. She says that in her diocese (Toronto), 44% of the churches are either growing or stable. But what about the other churches? Unless they are too far away of each other, is it possible to regroup and be stronger?
– On the spiritual side, rekindling faith is essential, but making sure our parishes provide something that can't be found on internet is also very important. I can get great music, great sermons and even good prayers online; objectively, most person would find more quality. So why would I want to brave the cold and go to church? We have to make sure our parishioners continue to find this "something".
– Finally, recruitment is important.

Actually, "recruitment" may not be the most appropriate word. In two of the downtown Anglican churhes I have been recently, we have welcomed people who decided to worship with us and, in quite a few cases, eventually decided to get baptized and be members of our congregation. Often these numbers are not sufficient to replace those who leave or die, but it's better that nothing.
What I noticed in Montréal is that almost all non-Christians who joined us were people who have been raised in totally secular families. It's either Québecers (and a few Ontarians) who were raised by parents who dropped out of church as teenagers, so these newcomers are people with absolutely no prior bad experience of Church. All they know is what they hear on the news – usually US fundamentalists (scary!), maybe some Bible reading online or a TV/Youtube program. Maybe they visited our church as a tourist attraction or for a concert. And at one time, they felt some spiritual need, saw that we offer an interesting environment, and at some point saw that they actually longed for a god, for God. At my previous parish, we also had some people coming from parts of the world with no faith. Chinese people (immigrants or University students) formed a large part of these. (We also have non-Christians who never get baptized and even a couple of Muslims who pray with us (in respect), and that's perfectly OK).
 
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Luce NDs

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Is wishful thinking a belief system ... since they say if you think about something strongly enough ... it affects activity that will sway nature and cause all kinds of downfalls? Negative emotional input!
 

DaisyJane

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I find myself all over the map on this particular topic. On one hand it will be sad to see some wonderful communities struggle. But yet, on the other hand, I think that for many people organized religion and its associated dogma is alienating. I think there is a way to be a community of people who embrace the messages of Jesus that doesn't include the exclusive ways in which many churches worship. There is a new way to be believers and I hope that this is part of our journey of living out our faith.

As an ally of people with significant intellectual disabilities I find myself thinking through how to be a new community together a great deal - particularly in light of how many faith communities implicitly and explicitly exclude people with disabilities, their caregivers, and other people living with various forms of chaos and challenging lives.

I don't think that this is some form of faith-based competition where they with the most members "win". To me, that is not part of the message of Jesus, and is not a way to live faithfully.
 

Luce NDs

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Is a religion based on love best if erratic and not organized? Allows a spectrum or variation in sects ... and blood does stir!
 

Jae

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Thank you to all who have replied.

From the article, I really appreciate the response of
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, which includes...

"'We’re called to do and be God’s people in a particular place, for the purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and the only question is, ‘How do we need to share it, so that it might be heard by those around us?’....

I think we’re being tested about perseverance, endurance, creativity in the coming years.... At the end of the day, when we stand before the great judgement seat and have to answer for how we lived our lives as Christians, I think the question that will be asked is, ‘Were you faithful with what you were given?’'"

----

I think that problems for us as Christians always result when we aren't able to link our living radically in the world with our being able to explain why we're doing that.

Ultimately, I believe the Body of Christ will go on and on, manifested on Earth in one form or another.
 

mgagnonlv

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I find myself all over the map on this particular topic. On one hand it will be sad to see some wonderful communities struggle. But yet, on the other hand, I think that for many people organized religion and its associated dogma is alienating. I think there is a way to be a community of people who embrace the messages of Jesus that doesn't include the exclusive ways in which many churches worship. There is a new way to be believers and I hope that this is part of our journey of living out our faith....
I am a bit conflicted by your comment. I sometimes think of the Church as a glorified AA group. What I mean is that many people have the worthy goal of staying sober and living a sober life, but they can't easily do it on their own. The AA group is a tool but not an end in itself. Likewise, I see the church as a tool to pray together, to understand God's message and to get closer to God. As such, I see the church as an important part of my life and for the most part I see differences between different Christian communities or denominations as different ways to approach God.

On the other hand, many Christian communities seem to worship the building rather than God, or seem to put more importance in their social codes than in what should be the ultimate goal: getting closer to God. There probably is a fine line between finding a comfortable environment for me or anyone else to approach God and being inclusive. No specific church can be the best answer to everyone, yet we need to find ways to make most people comfortable.

Another issue at stake with the decreasing number of Anglicans and of most mainstream denominations is the speed at which the change occurred. I am only 60 years old, yet the Roman-Catholic church where I did my first communion, which had 12 services (@1500 people) each Sunday back in 1964 is now closed, and the one I attended between 1964 and 1980 which had 4, then 3 services per Sunday (@800 people) is now part of a pool of 4 churches that have a total of one service (in rotation) per Sunday. As I hinted above, I think that having less people but more committed Christians is better overall. But we need to adapt our structures for that.
 
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