JP De Gance, the esteemed founder and president of Communio and co-author of the influential book “Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America,” is a recognized expert at the intersection of faith and relationships. His extensive research and insights have earned him recognition in esteemed publications like Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition.
In a recently published nationwide study, De Gance leverages his expertise to offer invaluable insights and recommendations for churches striving to promote healthy relationships and families.[Click here to download safely the study from our server: https://mautic.hillcities.org/asset/2:communio-study-2023]
The key findings of the nationwide survey of Sunday church attendees are that 80% of all Sunday church attendees in the United States grew up in a continuously married home with both biological parents, and that the collapse in marriage and the resulting decline in resident fatherhood may offer the best explanation for the decline of Christianity in the United States.
The survey also covered age, sex, relationship status, current marital or relationship health, the structure of the respondent’s family of origin, and loneliness.
The Communio Nationwide Study on Faith and Relationships reveals that the collapse in marriage and the resulting decline in resident fatherhood may offer the best explanation for the decline of Christianity in the United States. The collapse of resident fathers through the collapse of marriage is at the heart of the unraveling of Christianity. The growth of the religious nones is unlikely to stabilize until 25-30 years after married fatherhood stops its decline. (Page 2) (Page 18)
The study suggests that pastors and church leaders must become serious and effective in both increasing the number of marriages and the health of those marriages. It almost appears that revival across our larger society depends upon it. Churches must boldly re-establish healthy norms for “Cornerstone” Marriage while discouraging “Capstone” Marriage.
Delays in marriage, through the novel Capstone path, lead to increases in those who will never marry and ultimately grows the loneliness epidemic.
Churches MUST address the gender gap in the pews between men and women. (Page 18) (Page 17)
(Gender gap seems to be a fancy way of saying there are less men than women in churches today.)[Click here to download safely the study from our server: https://mautic.hillcities.org/asset/2:communio-study-2023]
The data shows that 80% of all Sunday church attendees in the United States grew up in a continuously married home with both biological parents.
A growing body of research shows an individual’s family of origin substantially influences the marriage they are in today.
The study also found that loneliness is a significant issue among churchgoers, with 33% of respondents reporting feeling lonely at least some of the time. (Page 20) (Page 11)
The Communio study found that cohabiting people are more likely to be lonely than married people. Cohabitors are both less satisfied in their relationships and feel lonelier than their married counterparts. Cohabiting women under 30 are 81 percent more likely to be considered lonely than their married counterparts. Cohabiting women ages 30-39 are 71 percent more likely to be lonely than their married counterparts. (Page 13)
TWO MODELS FOR MARRIAGE
The study discusses two models of marriage: the Cornerstone model and the Capstone model. The Cornerstone model is based on the biblical view of marriage, where the couple is committed to each other and to God. The Capstone model, on the other hand, is based on the idea that marriage is the capstone of a successful life, and that the couple should focus on their individual goals and careers before getting married. The data suggests that the Cornerstone model is more effective in promoting healthy marriages and reducing loneliness. The Capstone model, on the other hand, leads to delays in marriage, which increases the number of people who will never marry and ultimately grows the loneliness epidemic. (Page 3) (Page 15)
According to De Gance’s study, there is a significant gender gap in the church, with women making up the majority of both single and married populations. The study found that there are 42 percent more never married women in the pews than never married men. Additionally, 60 percent of married respondents and 59 percent of all single, never-married respondents were women. The gender gap between single divorced churchgoers is 77 percent women to 23 percent men. This lack of marriageable men, faithful to the gospel’s view of sex inside of marriage, remains a real and substantive obstacle to the cornerstone model of marriage. (Page 15) (Page 17)
TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE CRUCIAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY
The study suggests that churches and Christian families must propose and preach the Cornerstone model for marriage. This model emphasizes the importance of marriage as an essential relationship to construct a happy and successful life, and it is held up as the most common path to grow in holiness. The study also suggests that pastors and church leaders must re-establish a Cornerstone view of marriage among their people. This can be done by teaching biblical principles of marriage and relationships, providing premarital counseling, and creating a culture that values marriage and family.
Churches can create and normalize relationship and marriage ministry by evangelizing to both single and married people and drawing them into Christian discipleship that includes relationship skills-ministry. This can be done by offering human formation that increases the likelihood of healthy Christ-centered relationships and marriages for all age groups. The study recommends that relationship skills ministry should become ubiquitous in the church, offering practical skills around the formation of healthy, Christ-centered relationships.
Research has shown that as little as 8 hours of relationship skills education practiced during a 12-month period leads to lower divorce rates and better relationship satisfaction.
Additionally, the study suggests that a full-circle approach to relationship ministry benefits both single and married people, including cross-generational fellowship that includes building community between singles and married people. (Page 16) (Page 18)
The findings of the study are based on more than 19,000 completed surveys from 112 evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic congregations in 13 different states. The survey was deployed by churches through mobile devices during in-person services or liturgy on Sunday or Saturday evenings. While some small numbers of surveys were conducted in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Burmese, the vast majority were in English.
What are your thoughts on these findings? Do you agree with what this data suggests? Have you seen these symptoms manifesting based on your observations? Are studies like this helpful?
I would love to hear more from you as we navigate the complexity of cultural shifts and changes affecting Christianity in America.
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President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.