An update from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership brought my attention to: Facts on Growth – A new look at the dynamics of growth and decline in American congregations based on the Faith Communities Today 2005 national survey of congregations. From the Lewis Center:
Some findings are:
- Congregations that change worship format and style are more likely to grow. Worship frequency is important as well. The more worship services a congregation holds, the more likely it is to grow. Congregations that involve children in worship are more likely to experience significant growth.
- Congregations that have experienced major conflict are quite likely to have declined in attendance. The strongest correlate of growth is the absence of serious conflict.
- Congregations that have started or maintained a website in the past year are most likely to grow.
- While most congregations in America comprise a single racial/ethnic group, those that are multi-racial are most likely to have experienced strong growth in attendance.
- More important than theological orientation is the religious character of the congregation and clarity of mission and purpose. Growing churches are clear about why they exist and about what they are to be doing.
I have not yet looked at the entire report, but found these summary findings to be quite interesting. My take on applying these findings to my local setting – The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection:
- There are five worship services offered on the weekend with two styles. These styles do not change drastically. Children are not actively involved in the main worship experience.
- I have not experienced serious conflict in the congregation since I have arrived.
- Resurrection has a quality website which can be found here.
- Worship attendance is primarily within a single ethnic group.
- Resurrection is very clear about who the congregation is and what it exists to do: to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
What about your congregation? In what way are these characteristics a part of the community in which you worship?
2 replies on “Church Growth”
I serve in rural small town settings, and I’ve shared this study with one of my congregations as a conversation starter for church council meetings. I believe it will help us realize some of the obstacles we’re up against, and possibly encourage us to generate some creative solutions to the problems. Thanks for sharing!
Matt – Thanks for your thoughts and sharing the way that you are utilizing this study. I would be interested to hear what results may come down the road. I find that the key to reading things like this is to move beyond “that’s interesting” to “this is how this makes a difference in my life or community.” Blessings on your work in this transition.