Christian groups see need in changing approach to deal with historic decline in Americans’ church attendance

Christian groups are seeking innovative ways to bring the Gospel to Americans as church attendance and belief in God are on the decline in the country.

Fox News Digital spoke to Russ Ewell, the Executive Minister of Bay Area Christian Church, and Brad Hill, the Chief Solutions Officer at Gloo – a Christian communications platform that connects religious and non-religious people alike to church communities – about how they see this decline and how they are finding ways to reverse it.

According to a new Gallup poll, only “three in 10” U.S. adults (30%) attend church once a week or almost once a week. This represents a significant decline from attendance 20 years ago, when 42% of U.S. adults would still attend church regularly.


The drop-off doubled in the last decade, where regular church attendance, which was at around 38% percent between 2011 and 2013, plummeted to 30%. 

Gallup noted this decline is represented not just among Christian denominations, but in nearly all faiths in the United States. 

To provide a snapshot of which parts of the country are experiencing this decline most acutely, the Household Pulse Survey – conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau – recently put out data showing which cities in America are the least religious. ‘

It found that Seattle is the least religious city in America, with 64% of locals never going to church or going less than once a year.

Seattle narrowly beat San Francisco, where 63% of the population rarely attends church or religious services.

Ewell, whose church has multiple locations in the Bay Area, said he believes there is an aversion to church attendance at such a high rate there because, one, the prevailing liberal beliefs in the city have people assuming negative things about Christian churches; and two, that wealth distracts people from their spiritual needs.

“But the liberal stance politically makes assumptions about Christians. And so, there’s a lot of assumptions that Christians are going to be against certain things and social issues,” he said, elsewhere adding, “You have people who do not like the politics that they assume Christians have.”

About the second reason, he stated, “When you look at the surveys, wealth is one of the primary reasons people don’t go to church. And so, I think it’s a wealthier area. And, you know, when people get wealth, they put their security in that. They think, ‘Hey, I don’t really need God in my life.’ And of course, we know that a lot of times that’s until there’s a crisis or something goes wrong.”

The executive minister said his church, which he described as believing “100% in the Bible,” works to dispel these stigmas that many residents have about the church, and bring the Christian faith to those seeking spirituality who haven’t necessarily thought about becoming Christian. 


“They make assumptions that all Christians are out to try and control their life or tell them what to do. And my belief is that that’s not true. I don’t. I don’t think that’s what Christians are doing. And so, we work very hard to help people see it. And that’s why we focus on the doing good part.”

Ewell described how his church prioritizes community outreach and being welcoming to all folks in the Bay Area. Its focus is on showing charity for others and including them in fellowship before necessarily proselytizing, an approach he said has yielded good fruit.

“And so a big part of it for us is it opens up the idea that there’s a way to reach people, that Jesus reached people. And I look at Jesus in two ways… One, he did obviously miracles, but he did good. And as he did good, it drew crowds. And once the crowds were there, he spoke to them and he brought the gospel,” he said.

Ewell added, “And so, in my mind, it motivates me to create an environment where people associate Christianity with, ‘It’s going to do good and it’s going to change my life.’ And I believe that’s helped us have tremendous success with people like me, that are agnostics, that are atheists.”

Hill’s company, Gloo, is all about using the internet and modern technology to reach people where they’re at, whether they’re seeking religion specifically or just seeking answers to life’s more philosophical questions.

“Gloo has become essentially the nation’s largest platform for connecting people into faith communities,” Hill told Fox, explaining that it provides digital resources that connect to a variety of different mediums of communication, including ads, digital campaigns, broadcast TV or even live events, to create a network where people can be reached out to and connected to a church community. 


This web of connectivity encounters people searching for answers about church, prayer, relationships, anxiety and other personal topics, almost anywhere, and gets them in touch with a church or pastor. 

“We act sort of like a big switchboard,” Hill claimed, noting that Gloo now works through over 71,000 churches to connect to people. 

“We use people to help with that, we also use technology and even some AI to make the best possible match. And then we basically hand that relationship off to the church, the parish, the community, and they take it from there,” he said.

The problem, he told Fox Digital, is “we’re leading churches and we’re running ministries really to reach a culture that kind of is gone.”

He declared that Gloo “is really trying to be that connector between a culture that’s changing,” especially for a culture that is “lonelier than ever.”

Speaking of the younger generation’s struggles, Hill added, “They need community. They need connection. And there’s been some great reports in the last year that the local church provides a brand of connection and community that you can’t find anywhere else.”