Seminary Size – Evangelicals are #1

How large is large when it comes to a seminary student body in America? The primary accrediting body, Association of Theological Schools (ATS), accredited 246 institutions during the 2015-16 school year with an enrollment of just over 37,000 students (full-time equivalent) in the USA. Earlier this month Chelsen Vicari mined the ATS data to determine the largest seminaries in the USA.  Based on full-time enrollment numbers for the 2015-16 school year she found The top ten Read More …

Farewell to White Protestant America

Last week I noted how old Mainline Protestantism has become here in America.  Back in 2011 I reflected on a group of pastors from one Mainline denomination that labeled their own tradition "deathly ill."  Today, I recognize that death has come not only for that denomination or Mainline Protestantism but also for the Protestantism I have known and lived that is broader yet: White Christian America. Obituary  Robert P. Jones', CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, new book "The End of Read More …

Mainline Protestantism = Old

Until around the year 2000 I always thought of the group of churches to which I have belonged as Mainline or Mainline Protestant.  Over the last several years I have heard a variety of terms used that convey the considerable decline in membership and cultural capital. Data from the Pew Religious Landscape Study shows just how old the Mainline/Sidelined/Oldline Protestant traditions have become.   Mainline Denomination Median  Age Percent of Members Age Read More …

Mid-Year Update – Popular Posts

According to Google analytics statistics for So What Faith (based on view counts from January 1 to present) Most popular blog posts published in 2016 Search for a Church: 9 Months & Counting (May) Mainline Members – Political Leanings (February) My 2016 Search for a Church (January) Reflections on Average Worship Attendance (February) Top Religions by State (January) View from the Pew: 12 Sacred Spaces (June) Most popular posts so far in 2016 (regardless of date of Read More …

Post-Christendom Reality Check

I recently finished reading Weird Church: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century (Pilgrim Press, 2016) by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon.  The book is an important read because it offers a fresh approach to the transition for Christendom to post-Christendom based on Spiral Dynamics alongside numerous examples of ways congregations are already innovating and how such innovations offer hope for the future. The End Christendom is over.  There is no debate about that among those who take Read More …

The Disappearing Religious Gender Gap

It is relatively well known that America is a more religious country than most and that in America women are significantly more religious than men based on most traditional measures of religious belief and behavior. When I discuss religious behavior with a variety of audiences one measure resonates more than any other: attending religious services.  New research suggests that the once wide gender gap in religious service is now narrowing. More specifically, it was was cut in half from 1982 to Read More …

Global Decline in Religious Freedom

According to the recently released United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's 2016 Annual Report religious freedom decreased from February of 2015 to February of 2016.  The report also finds that "There are increasing opportunities for the U.S. government to work in concert with like-minded nations on issues relating to freedom of religion or belief." At nearly 300 pages in length, the report offers in-depth insight into the work of the Commission and the state of religious Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

Reflections on Average Worship Attendance

Most American churches have relatively small memberships.  Since the accuracy of membership roles varies widely, average weekly worship attendance is often used to compare congregational size. Median American congregation has 75 attend weekly worship (National Congregations Survey) Average American congregation has 186 attend weekly worship (US Congregational Survey) Half (50%) of all church attendance is accounted for by the largest 10% of congregations - those with 350+ average weekly Read More …

Closing the Clergy Gender Pay Gap

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land in the USA for my entire life.  That legal expectation, however, has not translated into actual dollar per dollar gender equality. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates women earn just $0.83 for every dollar men earn. American Clergy Since the Christian church holds equality of all persons as a core value, one should reasonably expect it would be a model of pay equality.  Unfortunately, the pay gap for clergy is Read More …