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 >>
A 143-year-old historic Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia recently held its final service after leaving its worship site to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons NFL stadium, slated to open at the start of the 2017 professional football season.
Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta's first autonomous black Baptist congregation, is being demolished to make way for the city's new $1.3 billion stadium. The city of Atlanta and the NFL contributed funds for buying out the church property, ultimately settling on a payment of $19.5 million that the church agreed upon by vote last year.
At their final worship service this past Sunday, the Rev. William Guy spoke of the church's "transitioning" phase and about how change in life is inevitable. "This is not a pity party, and I'm not going to make it one," Guy reportedly told his congregation, according to CL Atlanta. more >>
Pastor Leonce Crump chose over three years ago to launch Renovation Church in Atlanta on the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Why? Because the dream of racial equality and brotherhood King spoke about 50 years prior had yet to be fully realized, even in a city that was a bedrock of the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement in Atlanta started long before King linked arms with other locals to march through town demand justice. Organized acts of resistance by African Americans against segregation, economic inequity, and racial violence in Atlanta go back to the late 19th century.
But it is King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech that reminds Americans every year that there is still work to be done in society, and even in our churches, when it comes to celebrating diversity and living in true brotherhood. more >>