Church Attendance on Decline - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Church Attendance on Decline Across U.S., Including Delmarva

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CAMBRIDGE, Md.- Empty pews. It's becoming a common sight in churches across the country.  While services are still attended weekly by a loyal crowd, it's been getting smaller over the years. 

Two women WBOC spoke with represent that change. Lisa Barnes goes to church every Sunday, but Cathy Beise does not attend at all, though she says she still has faith.

"I have an active spiritual life, and I agree with what's been said, that churches can be a force for good, and I think that's great, but they also get bogged down in dogma." said Beise.

She is part of a growing trend of people leaning away from church, while still remaining spiritual according to Gallup polls.  Between 1993 and 2013, the number of people that reported they did not go to a church or synagogue went up from 31 percent to 41 percent.  That's 31 million more people who say they weren't attending church.

Pastor Robert White at Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge said this problem isn't only being felt in churches.

"I think in the last 20 to 25 years, with the increase in electronic ways of getting information, interacting with other people, the sense that you can have some sort of relationship without being part of a group is becoming more a part of our culture," said White.

White commissioned a study of people living within a 3-mile radius of the church, which shows only 15 percent of the local population thinks it's important to attend church on a regular basis.

"I think one of the things churches have to do is we've got to take a look at ourselves, who are we, what are our strengths, what are the resources that we have to work in the neighborhoods where we find ourselves, and we've got to know our neighbors better," said White.

That approach is being tested out by Pastor Brett Adams at the Overflow Cafe in Cambridge.  While it looks like an average coffee shop, it is affiliated with the Sunnyside Alliance Church in Secretary.  Their job here is more than just serving coffee, they are reaching out to touch the community.

"Jesus is very clear that the church isn't a building.  It's the kingdom of God in us.  It is his spirit in us, and we are the church." said Adams.

Adams says if churches focus more on the model of reaching outside the building, they can survive and even thrive in the 21st century.

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