Two coinciding reports this past week show us that a popular American “religion” continues to grow while church membership in the United States is now below 50%, the first time since Gallup first measured such things in 1937. Back in 1937, 73% of Americans had a membership affiliation with a church or denomination. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a house of worship, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.
Yet America’s other “religion”, professional football, announced that it will be adding another game to their regular season this year, giving fans an extra week to “worship” at their favorite stadium. In 1978, the NFL went from 14 games to 16 in the regular season, and now, 43 years later, it will be a 17 game season. Naturally, this is all due to demand, otherwise the change would not be implemented.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching football, I find the sport compelling, and will always root for the Denver Broncos. I do, however, believe that professional football players are grossly overpaid. But that’s merely due to the fact that the total revenue of all 32 NFL teams was over 15 billion dollars in 2019. It was Jesus who said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), and we Americans really treasure our football.
But football isn’t the culprit for the decline of religion in America.
Church membership and attendance is in decline in America because fewer and fewer people are committed to Christ and His church. That’s simply the reality we find ourselves in. The good news however, is that those who are committed to Christ and His church truly display a steadfast faithfulness that Jesus Himself commended when He said, “those who stand firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
I love a good football game as much as they next guy. But my hope is not found in the pigskin. My eternal hope is in Christ alone!