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Why Are Church Memberships Declining?


When I was a child, there was a nursery rhyme that went “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the door and see the people”

But where are the people now? Church memberships have been declining steadily across the board amongst almost all denominations with the exception of the Evangelicals.

In God We Trust?

Considering we were once a nation for whom “In God We Trust”, the stark reality is that many people are opting not only out of church life but out of religion entirely. So where is the disconnect?

What’s Happening Within the Church?

With the rise of reported abuses, scandals and wrongdoings within the church community, coupled with the societal demands for church traditions to keep up with a modern world, the sanctity of churches somehow are becoming obsolete.

Also, societal views of church members overall have waned.  Religious beliefs have been further confined to being practiced in churches or at home. Doing so in a public setting such as in an office or a school is now oftentimes frowned upon as being “politically incorrect” or an infringement upon the rights of others.

But what is correct about a world that is turning away from God?

Louis Posthauer, the Executive Director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry, “Helping Christians Return to the Body of Christ” has been deeply involved in various aspects of ministry since 1979 when he turned his life over to Christ.  Over the last 36+ years he has been actively involved in teaching and leading a broad range of ministries in the local church.


CFU:  When did you first realize that there was a crisis in the local churches concerning declining membership?
In 1989 through 1991, I was a full-time volunteer Pastor in the local church and got involved in outreach and visitor follow up. During that time I noticed many casual attenders and friends of theirs who basically were disconnected from the church. As a result, the Lord showed me a Biblical strategy that was very effective in restoring dropouts to the local church. I continued to utilize that after I went back into industry for 25 years and saw many friends and neighbors and work associates restored to church.
However, it wasn’t until 2016 when the Lord impressed me to raise up this ministry and impart it to local churches to train their congregations that I realized how bad this problem of dropout believers has progressed in the western church! The Barna group in 2016 conducted a study that shows for every 10 adult Americans over the age of 21, only 3 out of 7 who consider themselves Christians are actively engaged with the local church. That means that 4 out of 7 of all of those who profess Christian faith are dropout believers. This is stunning. 55% (4/7) of all professing Christians in America today are drop out believers! I’ll bet you know some.
Some of your family members, some are your neighbors, some are your work associates and some are your friends. If you are an actively engaged Christian you’ve already found that simply inviting them or trying to get them back into church generally just doesn’t work. That’s why God’s biblical strategy is so key and important to restoring dropout believers.
CFU: What do you think has contributed to these diminishing numbers?
Some consider that the secular culture is a factor, others consider the level of engagement or lack therof of the church in society, others suggest the relevance of the church today. And there are other factors. All these issues, however, are merely manifestations of the latter days Church age we are living in, in which most people’s love is growing cold (Matt 24:12).
As a result, dropout believers have bought into a variety of lies that justify their disassociating themselves from the church  – the body of Christ, none of which are the will of God. These are strongholds – false, deeply deceptive belief systems in the mind, that must be torn down spiritually in order for them to know the truth.
CFU: What is the goal of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry in rebuilding the Kingdom?
The vision of Hunter’s of the Harvest Ministry is to see millions of dropout believers across the church in the Western World restored to the church – the body of Christ. Our mission is to impart the biblical strategy of hunters of the harvest to churches and their congregations to enable them to effectively reach out to their own sphere of influence: their family members, friends, neighbors, and work associates; and see God work miraculously to restore them to the local church.
Just think – if every active christian engaged and helped restore one – just one dropout, the church would double in size! Think Easter/Christmas level attendance all the time! Think of Holy Spirit revitalized on fire churches – because when dropouts are restored they come in on fire and ready to give and to engage!
CFU: What do you recommend as an action plan for rebuilding the Kingdom?
LP: Churches in the West still try to do evangelism as if most of the society around them is not saved or are unbelievers. That is not the case in America and some other Western countries. In fact the Barna statistics say in America only 30% of adults profess no commitment to Christian faith. Yes, this 30% will respond to traditional evangelistic outreach that proclaims the gospel of good news.
However,  those 4 out of 7 believers who are dropouts have already “been there, done that”.  They won’t be inclined to be responsive to such traditional outreaches(“I know that – I already believe in Jesus…”). Dropout believers already believe in Jesus. They just don’t believe the church is real – a vital part of their professed belief in Jesus. Their false belief systems – strongholds – must be brought down spiritually (2 Co 10:5) and overcome by the love of God manifested through prayer in individual believers who are committed to them. This is the power of the biblical strategy of Hunters of the Harvest.
I encourage every active Christian and especially leaders who are concerned about this issue to carefully review our website HuntersoftheHarvest.Org  This is the biblical answer for the restoration of dropout believers.
Christians, Pastors – it is time to act. The hour is late. Maranatha!

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