Search for a Church: Repeat Visits

One of my resolutions  for 2017 is to "join (and be actively involved in) a local community of faith." Thankfully my recent experiences have helped prepare me to achieve this goal.  A few months ago I shared details of my visits to 34 different congregations.  Since that time, I have managed a few additional visits increasing the total to 36 congregations. The following chart offers a detailed accounting of the number of my worship experience by number of visits and the number of churches Read More …

Christian Worship + Nationalism = ?

Over the last year I have worshipped in 34 different congregations primarily in congregations affiliated with Mainline Protestant denominations (with most of these in United Methodist, Presbyterian - PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, and Episcopal churches).  From my pew or chair in most of the sanctuaries or other sacred spaces where the services were held I could see two flags: an American flag and a Christian flag. Only once, however, did the American flag play an important Read More …

Where’s Greg Worshipping?

Over the last twelve and a half months, I have attended 45 worship services in 34 different congregations. Denominations The chart at right illustrates the number of churches I have visited by denominational affiliation (green), the number of services I have attended in congregations affiliated with each denomination (blue), and the percent of all worship services I have attended by denomination (yellow). 75% of all of my worship experiences have occurred in congregations affiliated Read More …

Perspective: Visiting Dozens of Churches

Over the first four decades of my life I had the opportunity to participate in worship in around 30 different communities of faith (not counting those I joined on special occasions or for events other than their normal weekly services).  Most of my adult life was spent serving congregations in a variety of lay and pastoral positions. Over the past twelve months I have participated in worship in over 30 different communities of faith in Texas during one of their normal Sunday services.  This 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 …

My Summer Vacation Worship Report

While there are many creative ways that young people write reports about their summer vacations that creativity rarely extends into adulthood.  Rather than attempt such an ambitious project, I offer some insight into one hour of my summer vacation: worship at Naples United Church of Christ. Under Construction No church is ever complete. No community of faith has ever arrived.  Every congregation is always under construction. Given these theological assertions, I was pleasantly surprised Read More …

Search for a Church: 9 Months & Counting

Last September following a move across the country my wife and I began to search for a church.  That search is ongoing.  To date we have reviewed the websites of 40+ Mainline Protestant congregations in our area identified 26 congregations for visits visited 23 congregations and planned visits to the 3 remaining congregations selected 5 congregations that appear possible matches and committed to visiting each a second time this summer Several key categories help me process my 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 …

Small Congregations – Big Challenges

While I have spent most of my life affiliated with large congregations, I realize that there are more small congregations than large ones and that small congregations increasingly face big challenges. The FACT The 2015 FACT (Faith Communities Today) research (American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving) was published earlier this month.  It is the latest survey in a series that started in 2000, and was repeated in 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2015.  Since the 2015 survey includes Read More …

Ignored Announcements

Every congregation I have served has included a time for announcements prior to each service of worship (in one parish the timing varied and such would occasionally shift to the end of the service).  These verbal announcements are easily ignored and usually ineffective.  Recognizing this I have previously shared some best practices, mentioned the 80% rule as one way to cut down the number of verbal announcements, and even passed along a hyperbolic description of announcements as one of the Read More …