3 Trends Reshaping the Face of American Christianity
By Executive Director John Yoder
Are you aware of these 3 trends reshaping the face of American Christianity? It’s likely you’re all too familiar with the first one, but the other two might be new to you.
Trend number one: American churches are in decline. This is the trend I'm sure you're acutely aware of. Whether your church is white, black, or multiethnic; whether it's in the urban core, the suburbs, rural area, or a small town; most of our churches are in decline.
Trend number two: Immigrant churches continue to grow, because immigrants are more responsive to the gospel than native-born Americans. I see this all the time as I visit churches in the Minneapolis area. Often a greying American church with no children’s or youth ministries hosts an immigrant church with young couples, children, new believers and lots of momentum. There is simply more openness to the gospel among our immigrant communities than among our native-born communities.
In 2022, Lifeway conducted a survey of Latino church plants in the U.S. It found that compared to Anglo church plants, Latino church plants had higher growth rates, faster reproduction rates, and higher percentages of previously unchurched people who had come to Christ.
Trend number three: Those denominations that serve alongside immigrant churches experience higher retention. Most American denominations are in significant decline. The denomination with the strongest retention rate over the past 20 years is the Assemblies of God. Their 2022 statistics tell us that 51% of their adherents were under the age of 35. What’s underlying these numbers? The Assemblies are 43% multiethnic. They are very deliberate about planting new churches among America's immigrant communities. By contrast, the denominations with the steepest rates of decline are over 90% monocultural.
Let me draw two conclusions from all of this:
Those American churches that ignore the increasingly multiethnic nature of American Christianity will trend toward decline and irrelevance. Those American churches that act upon these trends and learn to walk alongside immigrant churches are more likely to experience long-term positive momentum.
It’s the vision of Immigrant Ministry Connections to help American churches discover optimal ways to begin ministry alongside immigrant churches. I recommend you start by reading our quickly-readable 4-page Field Guide titled Jumpstarting Church Momentum. You can download a free copy at https://www.immigrantministry.com/guidebook.