Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Walking away from the Catholic Church...

New stats were recently released on the vast number of people leaving the Catholic Church. Membership in the Catholic church in Austria has steadily been dropping for decades, but this year has set a new record. In 2010, 87,393 people decided to officially revoke their Catholic Church membership. Not only that, but mass attendance has also been drastically down. In the 1980s, attendance on a Sunday morning was at about 1.5 million. By 1998, the Church counted just under a million in the pews and by 2008, attendance dropped to 729.879. (Check out the website - translated into English by Google Translate here. Another great article is posted here.)

What does all this mean to us? Since the Catholic church has a different mission that most evangelical Christians in country, you may think that we are happy about these stats. Perhaps people are leaving the Catholic church and going to evangelical churches after hearing the gospel message? Unfortunately, no. I think what these stats really point to is this:

  • A declining interest in faith and "organized religion" in Austria

  • A belief that the Christian church, in any form (Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran, etc.), is no longer relevant for real life

  • An increased secularization of Austrian society

  • An increased need for the gospel! And an increased need for Austrians to understand what it means to have a personal relationship with a living God, not just formal membership to the Catholic church...something that is transforming!