ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A recent Gallop poll says 40 percent of Americans go to church regularly. However, studies done by an independent group of pastors says the number is actually closer to 20 percent and trending downward.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, America is losing 3,000 churches a year and approximately 3,500 members daily.
“I see a decrease in numbers of people with a faith commitment,” says Pastor Jerome Jackson, Southern Mission Missionary Baptist Church in East St. Louis.
Jackson says the numbers frustrate him, but they are a reality, and he feels the faith community has to do something to reach out to those who are not going to church.
St. Louis Family Church Pastor Jeff Perry says every church sees ups and downs in numbers if they are around long enough. However, a reason people could be leaving now is they are relying on themselves instead of God.
“I think we all have a tendency to be self-reliant and project that part of American culture and self-determinism,” Perry says.
Whatever the case, what does it mean for our society?
Monsignor James Callahan, pastor at St. Joseph’s in Cottleville, has the largest parish in the state and his attendance numbers are down, as well as marriages and baptisms. He sees individuals and families putting entertainment, sports, and their careers first, and putting God in the backseat.
“We find ourselves living in a materialistic society, getting to be very secular,” he says. “Europe is already there, but we are getting very close to that.”
Whether true or not, all three pastors agree that the increased violence we are seeing in St. Louis is a result of people not understanding God’s love.
“While the church is not perfect and full of flawed people who have sinned and fallen short, we still all need God,” says Perry. “There is an opportunity to connect.”
“I cheer on the churches in St. Louis. We pray for them and believe in them.”
Pastor Jackson adds that people don’t seem to think much about the devil being real or demons. He speaks to the point of you believe there is a God then you have to believe there is a Satan.
All three pastors agree that revival can occur, but that it won’t happen by accident. People need to show their faith and live it.
“Catholics who have come back to the church, close to 70 percent have come back because someone asked them to come back,” says Callahan.