The Philippines is now a Christian missionary sending nation as Christianity declines in the U.S.
Pew Research: Religious affiliation and attendance are declining in the USA. Towards 2021, the trend continues spiraling downwards. In 2018, over 4,000 churches closed in the US, while 1,500 clergies leave the pastoral ministry each month.[Shepherd Watch]
The “empty pulpit crisis” is a growing phenomenon. Percentage point change between 2009 and 2019 shows the following decline:
American church membership falls below the majority for the first time in the 2021 report
In 2016, a year after same-sex marriage was legalized, Christianity was the largest religion in the USA, with a combined 73.7% among Christians and Catholics. [Gallup]
Christian gatherings since then are at least 50 percent empty, except “prosperity Gospel churches,” which continue to thrive.
Despite efforts to make the church experience vibrant by adopting “concert hall worship,” church scandals and pastors meddling in politics may have dissuaded Americans from having a religious preference.
Born-again Christian revival in the Philippines
The Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia. Catholics were 80.58% and Protestants 10% in 2015. As Catholics and Protestants declined in the west, the number of evangelicals locally increased by 14% from 2011 to 2017. The trend has been growing since the 1970s.
The numbers could be relative and artificial
The increase in church membership could be artificial. Born again Christians have been increasing steadily, but these are most likely people with a religious background, moving from one church to another.
- In 2017, weekly church attendance was highest among Iglesia Ni Cristo at 90% and Muslims at 81%. Other Christians are 71%, and Catholics at a low 41% according to SWS.
- Catholics’ weekly church attendance declined from 64% in 1991 to 37% in 2013.
- In 2021, there were 90 million Catholics, compared to only 70 million in 2015. However, the population also increased.
- It’s automatic for Catholic parents to have their kids baptized into the church, creating an artificial increase in membership.
The global trend of church membership
- The once strong Catholic identity in the USA is at a four-decade low.
- Once the beacon of the missionary movement, Christianity is practically dead in Europe.
- South Korea had 50,000 churches in 2015, but young people are leaving churches at an alarming rate in the last decade.
The Philippines, now a missionary-sending country
Towards the 19th century, America was the beacon of Christianity. Hundreds, if not thousands, of American missionaries came to the Philippines and established churches.
In the late 1990s, Jesus is Lord (JIL) Charismatic movement became the fastest-growing church in and outside the Philippines. The University of Santo Tomas (UST), established in 1611, is the only “Pontifical and Royal” university outside the Vatican.
In 2020, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle became “Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples” under the Roman Curia, responsible for missionary work.
Today, Evangelicalism is strong in the country. One of the country’s fastest-growing Christian churches is Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF), established in 1984.
UST is the only “Pontifical and Royal” university outside the Vatican.
CCF Social media reach
Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) social media reach has more followers than the USA’s largest churches combined. It has more than 500,000 followers on YouTube; over 1.5 Million followers on social media.
In 2019, CCF had over 100,000 members and 70 satellites in the Philippines. It has 600 small groups in East Asia and over 12,000 house churches and small groups in South Asia.
CCF International satellites are located in 40 countries, including churches in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, HK, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Macao, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.