The part about Willow includes the phrase "if my memory of a visit ten years ago is correct." Jeesh. Here's an idea; call the church and ask somebody! Do newspapers have no standards?
Anyway, the article ends like this:
However, the bottom line is this. If there are now tens of thousands of seeker-friendly churches, who are attracting the unchurched, why has the number of unchurched Americans nearly doubled, according to pollster George Barna, from 39 million in 1991 to 75 million in 2004?First of all, if it were true that the rate of unchurched people was growing at a significant rate, than the obvious answer would be that the segment of churches that is not growing is hemoraging people faster than the segment of churches that is growing can assimilate them.
However, just thirty seconds at www.barna.org and I found that Mr. McManus was not accurately representing the information.
According to the Barna Group "one-third of all adults (34%) remain 'unchurched.' That proportion has changed little during the past five years. However, because of the nation’s population continuing growth, the number of unchurched adults continues to grow by nearly a million people annually."
But still, the question remains, if megachurches are flourishing, why isn't church attendance on the rise, instead of just holding steady? There are probably many conributing factors to this, but one is the decline in attendance among hispanic Catholics.
The Barna group reports that "Catholics, whose doctrine defines absence from weekly church services to be a sin, are more likely than Protestants to stray from church events. Some of that gap is attributable to the above average percentage of Hispanics who have dropped out of the local church (41% of them are unchurched)."
This suggests that American churches (mainline and otherwise) need to do more to serve the hispanics in their areas. Are local congregations making available spanish language church services and events? Are they conducting themselves in a manner sensitive to the unique challenges faced by hispanic Americans?
Rather than take pot shots at easy targets like Saddleback and Willow we need to turn a critical eye inward and ask, what can my church do to reach the unchurched in my neighborhood?