NEW YORK — A 2013 Gallup poll found that most Americans think religion is losing its influence in the United States, while a religious landscape survey from the Pew Forum found that "the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country." Could church planting be the key to turning these trends around?
Brent Storms, president & CEO of Orchard Group, a 66-year-old church planting network located in New York City, certainly thinks so. Storms planted his own church over 15 years ago, and for the past 10 years has assessed, trained and managed hundreds of other pastors who have felt called to found new Protestant communities.
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Storms shared his views on how starting new churches can help Christianity thrive in America, and perhaps around the world. more >>
"As the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946-1964) passes on, megachurches are also dying off." I see statements like that often in the public media, but all the evidence says they're just plain wrong, based on a major research project I did with Scott Thumma.
Instead, the larger the church the greater the percentage of young adults go there on average. We found and wrote in Not Who You Think They Are (free download) that the average age of megachurch respondents is 40 years old, similar to the U.S. Census average. Yet the average age of an attender in a typical "non-megachurch" congregation is nearly 53 years old. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of megachurch attenders are under 45 years old, while only a third are that young in other size churches (35%).
Likewise, many more single adults are part of megachurches. Nearly a third of megachurch attenders are single, unmarried people. In a typical church (all sizes) singles account for just 10% of the congregation. It is more likely in a typical congregation that the vast majority (80%) of attenders will be married or widowed. Yet in our megachurch attender sample these groups account for only 55% of the congregation. The vast majority of the megachurch singles fall into the 18-44 age range, a group that is essentially missing in many churches . more >>
Last month, Southern Baptists reported its seventh straight year of declining numbers. Yet, even as the largest American Protestant denomination, along with many other Mainline denominations, continue to lose members, the charismatic Assembles of God has experienced its 24th year of attendance growth in the United States.
The Pentecostal denomination, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, reported an uptick of just over 30,000 in attendance from 2012 to 2013, bringing their total number of adherents to 3.1 million, up from 3.09 million.
According to reports from the AG National Leadership & Resource Center, in 2013 in the United States, 137,373 "water baptisms" and 83,731 "Holy Spirit baptisms" were recorded. These numbers were up from 131,713 and 81,345 respectively. The 2013 figure surpassed the previously highest number of "water baptisms," which was recorded as 131,935. "Holy Spirit Baptisms," on the other hand, were within several thousand of the past five years and roughly 2,000 more than 2012 figures. (The AG defines "Holy Spirit Baptisms" as when an individual speaks in tongues.) more >>
The number of very large churches continues to increase, as our graphic dramatically illustrates. And within that group, the biggest churches continue to get bigger. In the past I've written about everything from sanctuary sizes (very few new ones over 5,000) to the first megachurch (start with Pentecost when "about 3,000" were converted, per Acts 2:41) to global megachurches (Korea and Nigeria are currently leading).
But what about the people who attend really big churches? Fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I surveyed some 25,000 of them, with some fascinating discoveries:Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven't been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches). What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church's reputation, in that order. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
For more interesting facts about people who attend megachurches, download the free report Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America's Megachurches. more >>
The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board will focus part of its efforts on planting churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with the aim of reaching nearly six million people.
In order to implement its plan, organizers are recruiting Southern Baptist churches to partner and commit to the vision of planting and multiplying churches over the next five years.
"We're focusing on D.C. because the Gospel is declining as D.C. grows in size and influence, so we want to provide a growing Gospel witness," Clint Clifton, city coordinator for the Send North America: D.C., told The Christian Post. more >>
The Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its years-long trend of losing congregations and members in 2013, according to statistics released by the mainline Protestant denomination last week.
According to the data compiled by the PCUSA's Office of the General Assembly, by the end of 2013 membership was approximately 1.76 million, compared to approximately 1.84 million by the end of 2012.
Additionally, the number of PCUSA congregations decreased during 2013. There were 10,038 churches in 2013, versus 10,262 in 2012. more >>