Search for a Church: The Final Four

The search for a church for my family is nearing completion.  After visiting 30 churches in our geographic area, my wife and I have agreed to consider four as possible communities of faith for intentional and ongoing involvement. For obvious reasons I won't name the congregations.  I will, however, share that they don't all look alike: Memberships range from 120 to around 2000 Average weekly worship attendance ranges from 75 to around 1,000 (in 1 to 4 services) Senior pastor tenure 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 …

The Great American Religious Decline

Tobin Grant, political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, recently blogged about what he calls "The Great Decline" of American religion over the last two decades.  From 1994-2014 Gallup surveys show significant declines in religious identity, worship attendance, membership in churches or other religious communities, religion's importance in life, and religion's relevance for today.  When these five are Read More …

Declining Worship Attendance

The United Church of Christ is a lot like other mainline Protestant denominations in terms of general trends in worship attendance.  In general the long term trend is toward fewer congregations featuring fewer present in worship. The UCC's Fall 2013 Statistical Profile notes that more than 7 in 10 congregations have an average weekly worship attendance of less than 100 individuals compared to just over 6 in 10 a decade earlier (an increase from 62.8% to 70.4%). Not only are small Read More …

Southern Baptist Decline

2012 was another rough year for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  More specifically, "according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions, most of the ACP metrics declined in 2012 including membership, average attendance, baptisms . . ."  Expressed as percentages, the declines are membership: 0.7%, average worship attendance: 3.1%, and baptisms: 5.5%. So What? While the SBC still has 6 million Read More …

Membership & Worship Attendance

Len Wilson just started a new job yesterday in "an executive creative and communication position" at Peachtree Presbyterian Church (Atlanta, GA), one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in America with an average worship attendance of around 7,000. Recently, he blogged about attendance and membership patterns in the United Methodist Church.  In a rather comprehensive piece, he compared the ranks of the top twenty-five conferences by both membership and worship attendance.  These statistics Read More …

Reality Check: A Typical Mainline Church in 2010

The Research Services Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA) just released the 2010 Survey of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Congregations, which was part of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) 2010 study of 10,000 congregations from 100 Christian denominations and other faith groups in the United States.  The data was provided by leaders of 706 PCUSA congregations.  Among the statistics worth noting: The median worship attendance for all Sunday morning services is 70 people Congregations Read More …

What if No One Comes? More Decline in the Mainline

Fewer and Fewer Worshippers For the last several decades, membership in mainline denominations has been declining.  Over time, membership has become a less helpful statistic in part due to a change in how younger people view church membership.  Given these changes and others, church attendance has become the sociological standard measuring growth or decline.  Lovett H. Weems Jr., distinguished professor of church leadership and director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Read More …