The Aging of Churches

The Aging of Churches - Generation Gap

A child is born every eight seconds, and someone dies every 11 seconds in the United States. The average age of all people in this country is 38, but no mainline denomination has an average age that low. So we are concerned about the aging of churches. The average age of Muslims in the U.S. is 32, and the average age of “nothing in particular” is 43.

Data on major religious groups shows that those with an emphasis on the biblical concept of the family have a lower age than denominations that do not. For example, the United Methodist Church has an average age of 58, the Episcopal Church average is 57, Lutheran Church is 56, and the Presbyterian Church is 55. In contrast, Pentecostal Church members have an average age of 47, and Churches of Christ average 48.

Examining statistics about the aging of churches and projecting those numbers into the future, what do we see? Obviously, churches that fail to adhere to the nuclear family concept of the Bible will eventually age out. We already see many congregations where the leadership is made up entirely of people over 65. The kinds of issues that concern people over 65 are radically different from those of people around the U.S. average age of 38.

We don’t ask the age of people who use our websites, take our apologetic courses, or send us emails. However, it is evident from the questions we receive that most of them come from younger people looking for answers concerning science and faith. We do know that the age group with the largest share of likes on our Facebook page is 18-24. The second largest is 25-34. Together, those two groups make up almost half of the followers on our Facebook page ( On the other hand, most of our negative emails come from older people who don’t feel there is a need for what our ministry is doing.

First Peter 3:15 encourages believers to “Be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you of the hope that is within you.” Younger people need to see evidence to lead them to a dynamic and functional faith. Their parents may have faith, but tradition is a poor apologetic.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: Christianity Today November 2021, page 20, and The Search for November 2021, page 1.