How to Shrink Your Church Attendance in One Easy Step

Here’s the premise media by Alexander Griswold:

Every major American church that is taking steps toward liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

Griswold writes:

By now, we’ve all heard the refrain that U.S. churches need liberalize their teachings on sexuality and homosexuality or rapidly decline. The logic behind the argument is simple: more and more Americans are embracing homosexuality and same-sex marriage, including growing numbers of religious Millennials. So long as churches remain the face of opposition to gay marriage, those churches will shrink into irrelevancy when gay marriage (inevitably, we are told) becomes a settled political issue.

These arguments often see church acceptance of homosexuality as a carrot as well as a stick. It isn’t so much that denouncing homosexuality will drive people away from church, but that embracing it will also lead people into church. LGBT individuals and their supporters, many of whom hold a dim view of religion after a decades-long culture war, will reconsider church if denominations remove their restrictions on gay marriage and ordination.

But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

What do you think? Does Griswold get it right? Or are there other reasons for these denominational downfalls in recent years?

And how important do you see the issue of sexuality and changing sexual norms at your church?

Will this be a big issue in the next decade? Will your church have to choose to lose some people because of your stand bisexual issues?

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.  Read Alexander Griswold’s thoughts here.



  • pietrosquared August 25, 2014 Reply

    He doesn’t have any data or studies, does he? Yes, mainlines have been declining, but to assume a causal relationship without some kind of data…?

    It’s also possible that the meteoric rise of non-denoms has more to do with the decline of mainlines than anything else… but since I don’t have any hard research data, I just don’t know.

  • James August 25, 2014 Reply

    Hello Todd;
    Happy belated birthday by the way. Congratulations, hope you had a wonderful day.
    I’ve been in the church my whole life, going on 65 years. And frankly attendance and membership has been declining regardless of the issues.
    Joel Osteen’s church seems to be thriving on a positive message of connecting with God and let He and you hammer out the details. The main thing is you connect with God. I’m not debating theology, doctrine, I’m just observing what people patronize and support.
    People who favor, LGTB, I think, find their own church, or build one. They don’t seem to be gravitating toward churches who all of sudden change their spots to stripes. And honestly, to me, those churches are irrelevant and obsolete. They think issues, doctrine, theology is why people go to church. People go to church for community, connecting, encouragement etc. Not for theological issues (some might, but it’s a minority and we’re afraid to face the truth, that most people don’t even know the doctrine of their own church or denomination).
    To say a church “is” relaxing, or accepting a more liberalized view of homosexuality is a mixed bag of beliefs. People who honestly and openly love and care for the homosexual community will demonstrate that love regardless of what their church or denomination accepts as their doctrine.
    Honestly, the church is obsolete and irrelevant and that’s it’s demise, not any particular belief. It has skirted the issues of “life” because it hasn’t learned to develop loving and caring relationships with the world around them. And while it says it has the answer, it practices something totally foreign to the message of Jesus.
    While the church plays “church”, and hammers out it’s doctrinal differences, and yells across the isle of who’s right and who’s wrong, the rest of the world has moved on and made their own “church” of a type.
    The church, in general, has lost it’s way and has become what Jesus called the Pharisees, “….blind guides”.
    Until we capture the real essence of Jesus life, the “church” will continue to lose members, church doors close, and the world find it’s own brand of religion.
    Leonard Sweet wrote this in one of his books, I believe it was Sweet, I could be wrong but the quote is true; “People are leaving the church because they’ve lost their faith, their leaving the church to preserve it.”

  • James August 25, 2014 Reply

    Sorry Todd;
    I left out a word on Sweet’s quote:
    People are leaving the church NOT because they’ve lost their faith, their leaving the church to Preserve it.”

    That little word NOT is very important. Sorry!!!

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