American churches are finding that their buildings are no longer the community social landmark they once were. A decrease in faith is partially to blame; the percentage of adults who identify as Christian dropped from 78.4% in 2008 to 70.6% in the latest. The can be seen in mainline Protestant churches such as Lutherans and Methodists. And almost 23% of U.S. adults now say they are religiously unaffiliated.
An Attendance Crisis
There’s also a generational divide between those who consider themselves religious and those who don’t. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, still make up theof Christians at 35%. Nearly attend church services once a week. Their Millennial children and grandchildren are than any other generation to consider religion an important aspect in their lives. Those who do make up 23% of Christians, and only 41–43% report weekly church participation.
While those numbers might not seem alarming, it’s important to note the difference between how often people say they attend church and how often they actually do. Some sources report church attendance as low asof the population on any given Sunday.
A Loss of Funding
This drop in religious identity is coupled with an overall decline in financial giving to religious institutions. In 1990,of all charitable donations in the U.S. were made to churches and other religious establishments. As of 2016, however, that share fell to 32%. Religious leaders say that younger people are by tradition and no longer feel obligated to donate money the same way their parents did.
All of this means that churches are having to adapt to aging, dwindling congregations that may contribute less financially than they once did. The loss of funding and a thriving community makes keeping and maintaining expensive church buildings difficult.
Perhaps not surprisingly, churches are dying in large numbers. BetweenU.S. churches are closing their doors every year. Some are changing their organizational models to become less reliant on a permanent building, holding service at venues such as local high schools. Some look to the wider community for support and successfully their buildings, coworking spaces, and meeting rooms with other profitable and nonprofit businesses. Others are their buildings, which are often as apartments and condos in high-value rental markets.
So What Can Churches Do?
If your church has vacant buildings or property, there may be ways to recoup the economic benefits lost on unused real estate. DCG Strategies can help you decide whether leasing or developing the property is an option. If it’s foreseeable that your church might close, selling the property might be in your best interest. DCG has plenty of experience working with nonprofits and religious institutions, and we understand that every case is unique.to schedule a consultation and we can help determine a feasible and creative solution for your situation.