According to the far-left Public Religion Research Institute, more white Christians are going to church now (44%) than were in 2018 (42%). Alex McFarland of Truth for a New Generation says until now, mainline denominations have been bleeding members, and evangelical churches have been picking them up. But he says these raw numbers do not tell the whole story.
"The traditional, older, mainline denominations like Presbyterian, Methodist, United Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal – for years they've been skewing theologically liberal," McFarland explains. "I'm encouraged whenever anybody's going to church, but the question is are they hearing the gospel? Are they being taught not only biblical discipleship [and] stewardship, but citizenship?"
He believes the trend reversal is only a statistical blip.
"It's been well documented how the more left-leaning a church goes, the more likely they are to shrink and die," the apologist regards. "The more conservative – theologically and politically – a church is, the more they're likely to grow."
Either way, as more people have been going to church, he says the pandemic could be a driving force behind the return to the pews.
"People need hope, and some people are turning to God, hoping that in a relationship with the Lord they can find hope," he concludes. "And the good news is they can."