MEGACHURCHES & Report discovers they continue to grow as they emphasize small groups, embrace modern worship and diversify, but steer clear of politics.

by Bob Smietana, Relcion News Service.

A pre-pandemic, national survey of megachurches from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found the median megachurch draws about 4,100 attenders to its worship services, up from about 3,700 in 2015. 

The average megachurch budget is $5.3 million, up from $4.7 million in 2015. Seven out of 10 have more than one location. Six out of 10 (58%) say they have a multiracial congregation.  

Despite the decline among Christian groups overall, most megachurches seem to be doing well, said Scott Thumma, professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary and director of Hartford Institute.

“They continue to do things that other congregations should be doing,” Thumma said.

Thumma said the use of contemporary worship — along with a focus on small groups and international diversity — has helped megachurches continue to grow. Megachurches, in general, he said, also tend to steer clear of controversy, staying away from culture wars or political battles.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/10/29/report-megachurches-continue-to-grow-and-diversity-steer-clear-of-politics/

STAFFING & A History of FTE (full-time staff equivalents) and How Many Staff Members Do You Need? #Staffing/MembershipRatios

By Susan Beaumont, Ministry Matters Magazine, 6/29/13.

… Faith Communities Today (Fact 2008, 2010) is a study out of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, that looked at, among other things, how 3,000 congregations allocated their budgets. Researchers discovered that the average U.S. Protestant congregation allocates 45 percent of its total operating budget to payroll-related costs. Mainline churches spend considerably more (49 percent) on payroll-related expenses than either the Evangelical Protestant (31 percent) or the Catholic/Orthodox communities (41 percent)

… A Leadership Network study (which focused on staffing costs in larger congregations) found that the following factors were related to staff costs:

  • Whether the church is growing. Staffing costs are leaner for churches whose attendance is growing, perhaps because growing churches have not “caught up” with emergent staffing needs.
  • The dominant age group of the congregation. Staffing costs are leaner, but only slightly, for churches where the average person’s age in the congregation is lower.
  • The year in which the church was founded. The younger the church, the leaner the staffing costs.
  • The location of the church. Staffing costs are lower for residential and new suburban locations and slightly higher for older suburb and downtown churches.
  • Race. Staffing costs are leanest for predominantly African American churches and highest for Anglo European churches.
  • Use of paid part-time staff. Staffing costs have no relationship to the percentage of paid part-time staff in relation to full-time staff, until a congregation employs three or more paid part-timers for each full-time staff.
  • Economic level of the congregation. Staffing costs are leanest for churches whose internal constituency is described as poor and highest for churches with an internal constituency described as wealthy.

Staffing/Membership Ratios

Perhaps the longest standing rule of thumb about staffing structures is the ratio of program staff to average worship attendance. In 1965 Martin Anderson wrote one of the first books to address staffing models in the larger church, Multiple Ministries. He recommended a staffing ratio of 1 pastor for every 500 members (1:500) . Looking back on that number, it is hard to believe that congregations ever functioned with such lean staff teams, but in fact they did. Remember that this book was written during a time when worship attendance and membership were more closely aligned, when membership meant different things than it does today, when volunteerism in the church worked differently, and when church programming was more homogenous and standardized than it is today. No church today would ever dream of targeting a 1:500 staffing ratio and expect to meet the needs of its congregants.

In 1980 Lyle Schaller wrote The Multiple Staff and the Larger Church in which he introduced average worship attendance as a more reliable indicator of staffing needs. Schaller proposed a ratio of 1:100 as a guideline for the typical ratio of full-time paid professional staff positions in mainline Protestant congregations. In 2000 Gary McIntosh wrote Staff Your Church for Growth and suggested that a 1:150 paid professional staff ratio was a more realistic and affordable guideline. Both Schaller and McIntosh focused on the combination of professional clergy leaders and professional program staff leaders. Their ratios did not include administrative or support staff. Both assumed that the staffing ratio remained constant across size ranges.

So, given these conflicting guidelines, what is the most effective way to think about the size of the staff team relative to the active membership base of the congregation? The same 2010 Leadership Network Study that looked at the characteristics of a lean staff team created an alternative way of thinking about staff size relative to attendance. Rather than thinking solely about program or clergy staff in relationship to attendance, the Leadership Network study looked at the ratio of all full-time staff equivalents (FTEs) to attendance. Furthermore the study looked at how that ratio changed as the percent of budget devoted to staffing expense increased and decreased. Here is what they found.

Staff Costs as a Percent of Budget              Ratio of Staff to Attendees

10-19%                                                1:108

20-29%                                                1:91

30-39%                                                1:73

40-49%                                                1:73

50-59%                                                1:70

60-69%                                                1:59

The conclusion here is obvious. If you spend more of your budget on staff, then you have more staff per attendee than other congregations do. The results also suggest that churches with higher staffing budgets don’t necessarily pay their staff better; they just hire more staff. The ratios are helpful benchmarks as to how many staff congregations employ. Given that the average congregation spends between 48 and 50 percent of its operating budget on payroll, we can assume the average congregation employs one full-time equivalent staff member for every 70 to 73 people in average weekend worship attendance.

Determining how large of a staff team that you need depends upon your mission and your context. No benchmark can answer the question for you. It should never be your objective to match the averages quoted in this article. However, these averages can be used as a starting point for good dialogue between you and your leaders. Do you lie inside or outside of the normative parameters outlined here? In what ways does the unique nature of your mission and your context require something outside of the norm?

Read more at … https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/4094/how-many-staff-do-you-need

#OD723 #FTE

CHANGE & Research finds if congregations can change, they can grow.

by Hartford Seminary American Congregations Project.

Congregations Can Change, They Can Grow Congregations that are spiritually vital and alive, have strong, permanent leadership, and enjoy joyful, innovative and inspirational worship are more likely to experience growth, this 2011 study found. Other factors that support growth are being located in the South; having more weekly worship services; and having a clear sense of mission and purpose. These are among the conclusions that stood out in a Faith Communities Today report on American congregations titled “Facts on Growth: 2010”. “They almost seem commonsensical,” said David Roozen, Director of Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research, “but it is surprising how many struggling congregations puzzle over the challenges of growth.” FACT released this report to help and provoke the reflection of just such congregations — those seeking to discern which issues help and which hinder growth. The author is C. Kirk Hadaway, former Church Officer for Congregational Research, The Episcopal Church. The report was one in a series produced by The Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP), based on a 2010 survey that analyzed responses from 11,077 randomly sampled congregations of all faith traditions in the United States. “Location, Location, Location used to be the kind way that researchers described the extent to which the growth or decline of American congregations was captive to the demographic changes going on in their immediate neighborhoods,” said Roozen. “Congregations cannot totally ignore what is going on in their context, but the clear message of FACTs on Growth: 2010 is that in today’s world, growth and decline are primarily dependent upon a congregation’s internal culture, program and leadership, and therefore a congregation’s own ability to change and adapt.” Hadaway wrote, “Decline is more prevalent today than it was five years ago and congregational economics are much more precarious. Still, many congregations in America are growing. What are they like and what are they doing?” Among the findings in the report: In a shift, congregations located in the downtown or central city area are more likely to experience growth than congregations in other locations. Previous surveys found that newer suburbs were associated with the greatest potential for growth. The South, from Maryland to Texas, is better for growth than any other region. The youngest congregations, those started since 1992, are most likely to grow. Growth in predominantly white congregations is less likely, in part because this population has zero growth demographically. The members tend to be older as well and less likely to have contemporary worship services. Denomination matters – growth is more likely among conservative Protestant groups and least likely among mainline Protestant congregations. There is a clear correlation between growth and the sense that a congregation is spiritually vital and alive along with a clear mission and purpose. While only nine percent of congregations have three services on a typical weekend and five percent have four or more, these congregations are more likely to have grown. It is unclear, however, whether churches grow because they have more services or they grow first and add services. Where a worship service is considered joyful, a congregation is more likely to experience substantial growth. And congregations that involve children in worship were more likely to experience substantial growth. Congregations whose members are heavily involved in recruiting new people have a definite growth advantage, as do congregations that use multiple methods to make follow-up contacts with visitors, that regularly invest in special events or programs to attract people from the community, and whose senior clergy spent priority time in evangelism and recruitment. In general, having congregational programs of all kinds is related to growth. Be it Sunday school, Scripture study, fellowship, retreats, youth programs, team sports, or community service, nothing works against growth. The programs that produced the strongest link to growth were (1) young adult activities (2) parenting or marriage enrichment activities and (3) prayer or meditation groups. Congregations without a leader or an interim leader are least likely to experience growth. Generally, the younger the leader, the more likely a congregation has grown. Leaders 35 to 39 years old are most likely to be in growing congregations. Congregations that saw themselves as not that different from other congregations in their area tended to decline.
Read more here … https://faithcommunitiestoday.org/facts-on-growth-2010/

STRENGTHS & Research Confirms 7Systems.church of church health & growth

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 8/15/17.

The following is my systems (7Systems.church) analysis of the “American Congregations 2015 Study” based upon  initial work by Arron Earls (LifeWay, Facts & Trends). The American Congregations 2015 Study” is available at ChurchHealth.wiki and http://www.faithcommunitiestoday.org/sites/default/files/American-Congregations-2015.pdf

For a detail explanation of each mark and how churches can replicate them, see my series of 7 articles for Church Revitalizer Magazine beginning with the first article at this link: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/turnaround-churches/

7 Marks Healthy Church SLIDE.jpg

#TransformationalLeadershipConference #StMarksTX #StLixTX #7Systems.church

MULTIRACIAL & How Many Churches in the U.S. are multiracial?

Sadly, no. Eleven o’clock Sunday morning continues to be the most segregated hour in America. But there are signs that a major change is underway. Our 2010 Faith Communities Today study of over 11,000 congregations found the percentage of multiracial congregations (based on the 20% or more minority criteria) had nearly doubled in the past decade to 13.7 percent. See our Huffington Post article on multiracial churches.

A late 1990’s study by sociologist Michael Emerson showed that “multiracial churches” (where 20 percent of members were of different racial groups from that congregation’s majority race) accounted for between 7-8 percent of U.S. congregations.

Our 2010 study indicated that the percent of multiracial congregations are increasing in all faith groupings. In Emerson’s study, 5 percent of Protestant churches and 15 percent of Roman Catholic churches were multiracial, while in 2010, 12.5% of Protestant churches and 27% of other Christian churches (Catholic/Orthodox) were multiracial.

Additionally, non-Christian congregations have considerable racial diversity. The 2010 survey found that 35 percent of congregations in faith traditions such as Bahai, Muslim, Sikh, and others were multiracial.

The largest churches in the country also seem to have it easier. Large Catholic churches are significantly multiracial. Likewise, sociologist Scott Thumma found, in the 2005 “Megachurches Today” study, that megachurches have an multiracial advantage as well that balance. In his study, 35 percent of megachurches claimed to have 20 percent or more minorities. What’s more, 56 percent of megachurches said they were making an intentional effort to become multi-racial.

Want to know more? Check out People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States (Princeton University Press, 2006) or other books by Michael Emerson. Also, read the Megachurches Today 2005 report at http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/megachurch/megachurches_research.html

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

 

DENOMINATIONS & What denominations are gaining members and what denominations are losing members?

A: Mainline Protestant denominations continued to decline, according to the 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the United Church of Christ, all reported decreases in membership in 2011. For several years now, the Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative evangelical denomination, also showed a decrease.  The Roman Catholic Church also reported a decrease of less than 1 percent.

The growing denominations in 2011 were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Assembles of God and several other Pentecostal groups; each reported a 2 percent growth.

Sociologists have also found that larger evangelical Protestant churches appear to be growing, while smaller churches posted smaller growth.  Based on data from the Faith Communities Today survey, evangelical churches with more than 1,000 people posted the largest gains over the past five years: 83 percent.
Want to know more? Go to the 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The Yearbook costs $55 and may be ordered at: www.yearbookofchurches.org

Check out the Faith Communities Today surveys of congregations, http://www.faithcommunitiestoday.org  You might also want to read How Strong is Denominational Identity?

OLDLINE PROTESTANT*

Number of Regularly Participating Adults

% of Congregations Growing by 5% Or More From 1995 to 2000

1 thru 49

30%

50 thru 99

41%

100 thru 149

52%

150 thru 349

50%

350 thru 999

70%

1000 or More

66%

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT*

Number of Regularly Participating Adults

% of Congregations Growing by 5% Or More From 1995 to 2000

1 thru 49

37%

50 thru 99

50%

100 thru 149

60%

150 thru 349

66%

350 thru 999

74%

1000 or More

83%

* Does not include historic black denominations

denominational change

denominational membership trends

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

DENOMINATIONS & Largest 25 Denominations/Communions from the 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Total church membership reported in the 2012 Yearbook is 145,691,446 members, down 1.15 percent over 2011.

1. The Catholic Church 68,202,492, [ranked 1 in 2011] , down 0.44 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention 16,136,044, [ranked 2 in 2011] , down 0.15 percent.
** Since the 2010 census of nondenominational/independent congregations, we now know that this grouping of churches, if taken together, would be the second largest Protestant group in the country with over 35,000 congregations and over 12,200,000 adherents.
3. The United Methodist Church 7,679,850, [ranked 3 in 2011] , down 1.22 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 6,157,238, [ranked 4 in 2011], up 1.62 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ 5,499,875, [ranked 5 in 2011] , no update reported.
6. National Baptist Convention , U.S.A. , Inc. 5,197,512, [ranked 6 in 2011] , up 3.95 percent.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 4,274,855, [ranked 7 in 2011] , down 5.90 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America , Inc. 3,500,000, [ranked 8 in 2011] , no update reported.
9. Assemblies of God 3,030,944, [ranked 9 in 2011] , up 3.99 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 2,675,873, [ranked 10 in 2011] , down 3.42 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church 2,500,000, [ranked 11 in 2011] , no update reported.
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America 2,500,000, [ranked 11 in 2011] , no update reported.
13. The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS) 2,278,586, [ranked 13 in 2011] , down 1.45 percent.
14. The Episcopal Church 1,951,907, [ranked 14 in 2011] , down 2.71 percent.
15. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. 1,800,000, ranked 15 [ranked 17 in 2011] , up 20 percent.
16. Churches of Christ 1,639,495, [ranked 15 in 2011] , no update reported.
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 1,500,000 , [ranked 16 in 2011] , no update reported.
18. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 1,400,000, [ranked 18 in 2011] , no update reported.
19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. 1,308,054, [ranked 19 in 2011] , down 0.19 percent.
20. Jehovah’s Witnesses 1,184,249, [ranked 20 in 2011] , up 1.85 percent.
21. Church of God ( Cleveland , Tennessee ) 1,074,047, [ranked 22 in 2011] , down 0.21 percent.
22. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 1,071,616, [ranked 23 in 2011] , no update reported.
23. Seventh-day Adventist Church 1,060,386, [ranked 24 in 2011] , up 1.61 percent.
24. United Church of Christ 1,058,423, [ranked 21 in 2011], down 2.02 percent.
25. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 1,010,000, [ranked 25 in 2011 ], no update reported.
Total membership in top 25 churches: 145,691,446, down 1.15 percent.

Membership figures reported in the 2012 Yearbook were collected by the churches in 2010 and reported to the Yearbook in 2011.

Nine of the 25 largest churches did not report updated figures: the Church of God in Christ; the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; the African Methodist Episcopal Church; the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; Churches of Christ; the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.

The 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports on 228 national church bodies. The Yearbook also includes a directory of 235 U.S. local and regional ecumenical bodies with program and contact information and provides listings of theological seminaries and bible schools, religious periodicals and guides to religious research including church archive listings.

For more information, or to purchase a copy of the 2012 Yearbook, see www.yearbookofchurches.org.

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

ATTENDANCE & How many people go to church each Sunday? They told Gallup 40%. Reality only 20.4%

by the Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

A: For years, the Gallup Research Organization has come up with a consistent figure — 40 percent of all Americans, or roughly 118 million people, who said they attended worship on the previous weekend. Recently, sociologists of religion have questioned that figure, saying Americans tend to exaggerate how often they attend.

By actually counting the number of people who showed up at representative sample of churches, two researchers, Kirk Hadaway and Penny Marler found that only 20.4 percent of the population, or half the Gallup figure, attended church each weekend.

As added proof for the accuracy of this smaller percentage of churchgoers, if 20.4% of Americans (approximately 63 million in 2010) attended the nation’s 350,000 congregations weekly then the average attendance would be 180 people per congregation which is almost exactly the figure that numerous research studies have found.

Want to know more?

SIZE & The Median Church in the US has 75 Regular Participants on Sunday Mornings #NationalCongregationsStudy #NCS

by the Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

What’s the size of U.S. churches?

A: The median church in the U.S. has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings, according to the National Congregations Study (NCS) http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/ . Notice that researchers measured the median church size — the point at which half the churches are smaller and half the churches are larger — rather than the average (186 attenders reported by the USCLS survey http://www.uscongregations.org/charact-cong.htm ), which is larger due to the influence of very large churches. But while the United States has a large number of very small churches, most people attend larger churches. The National Congregations Study estimated that the smaller churches draw only 11 percent of those who attend worship. Meanwhile, 50 percent of churchgoers attended the largest 10% of congregations (350 regular participants and up).
Want to know more? Check the websites for the National Congregations Study (NCS) at http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/ The US Congregational Life Survey (USCLS) website has statistics about congregations by religious traditions at http://www.uscongregations.org/ The Faith Communities Today national study of churches www.faithcommunitiestoday.org 2010 study also contains size and other congregational findings.

Read more at … http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong

Approximate Distribution of U.S. Protestant and Other Christian Churches by size *based on NCS study
(excluding Catholic/Orthodox)

ATTENDANCE # OF CHURCHES WEEKLY WORSHIPERS PERCENT

7-99

177,000

  9 million 59%

100-499

105,000

25 million 35%

500-999

12,000

  9 million 4%

1,000-1,999

6,000

  8 million 2%

2,000-9,999

1,170

  4 million .4%

10,000-plus

40

  .7 million .01%

TOTALS

approx. 300,000

approx. 56 million 100%

 

RESEARCH & Summaries of Most Major Studies of No. American Congregations

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This list, curated by Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research, is one of the best curated listings of scholarly research available on the web.


“The study of congregations has become a primary focus of sociologists of religion in the past decade.  The local church is now seen by researchers as an important component of an individual’s faith and religious practice in the United States.  The increased role of congregations in American public life makes the study of these local religious organizations increasingly important.

This section offers summaries of major research projects which have the congregation as a focus of study.  They are listed in rough chronological order.”

Others research summaries coming soon.

View congregational survey question bank drawn from the survey instruments of several of the above projects


More research from Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research Page (below):

Visit our research section on Megachurches – This section of the site contains research, writings and an extensive database of megachurches in the U.S.

Women and Religion – Information from several studies on the role of women in religion can be found in this section.  Included are links to other web resources on women and religion.

Religion and the Family – Several recent studies on religion and changing family dynamics are highlighted in this section. Information on the family ministries of churches and denominations is also included.

Religion and the Web – The Internet is changing the face of religion. Several articles discussing these changes are included here. This section also has links to sites about religion and the Internet.

Pentecostalism – Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing religious phenomena in the past century.  Research on religious groups practicing expressive, charismatic worship is described in this section.

Orthodox Churches in the United States – This section has one of a kind research on the major branches of the Orthodox Church in the USA.  It includes tables of fact, articles and links to more information.

Homosexuality and Religion – This section contains information on this controversial topic.  Included here are reports of denominational debates, research data and links to information on this subject.

Quick Questions – Our quick questions section is the archive of factoids drawn from studies and research reports we feature in this web site.  Individual questions are rotated onto our homepage approximately every week.  These questions are intended to highlight the diverse research findings contained on the Institute web site.

Faith Based Social Services/Charitable Choice – Links to research articles and other useful sites are provided here on the subject of congregations providing social services to address issues of the needy within their community.

CHURCH TRENDS & The American Congregations Survey from Hartford Institute

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving survey (by David A. Roozen, The Hartford Institute for Religion Research) is some of the most exhaustive and scholarly research conducted on American congregations. Every student of church health and growth should become familiar with this survey. But not just seminary students and budding scholars should will benefit from this research. Even the causal reader will find helpful charts/graphs that will give you a quick, but accurate picture of the Church in North America. The survey is available as a free PDF. I consider it as a foundational scholarly resources that every leader interested in church health and growth should consult.

Download the .pdf here: hirr.hartsem.edu/AmericanCongregations2015.pdf

See also Mark Chaves work at Duke University which resulted in the equally helpful National Congregations Study (NCSIII) downloadable at the link here.

American Congregations 2015 Survey Contents

Speaking Hashtags:  #Renovate17

WORSHIP & How to Multiply Worship Options & Avoid Worship Wars (by church size)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/31/16.

We all know, “one size doesn’t fit all.”  And this is true with church health and growth strategies.  So let’s look at how worship wars must be tackled differently by churches that run over 100 attendees and those churches that have fewer than 100 attendees.

But, worship is actually becoming less innovative!

Research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Church Research found that worship is actually becoming less innovative today.  Here is a link to the article: WORSHIP & Churches Increasingly Less Innovative in Worship. Yet even though worship is less innovative (not a good thing), conflict seems to have remained high.  A key part of the solution is conflict resolution.  As a professor who studies conflict resolution, it still surprises me how much conflict arises over styles of worship.

Less conflict = Church Growth

And, it stands to reason that lack of conflict leads to church growth.  Plus, research has supported this. Aaron Earls, commenting on research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute, noted that churches that grow have a “Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.  For more read: 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth.

Different Tactics for Different Sizes

But, one of the most important mitigating factors for putting and end to worship wars is the size of the church too.

  • If you are over 100 attendees you must solve worship wars in one manner.
  • And, if you are under 100 attendees, you must solve your worship wars in a very different manner.

So, take a look at these twin-tactics in this post: How to Settle Worship Wars By Church Size. At this link you will also find how you can address the “Four Forces That Control Change,” (e.g. lifecycle-, goal- and trend-orientated change forces) with two different tactics depending on the size of your church.

#StLizTX #StMarksTX

WORSHIP & Fewer Churches Changing Worship Style / More Churches Less Innovative #AmericanCongregationsStudy

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My colleague Aaron Earls, while analyzing Hartford Seminary’s American Congregations 2015 study, points out that innovation in worship is declining today. Earls sums up how this impacts churches by stating, “While it may signal less conflict over worship changes, less innovation does make churches less likely to grow or be healthy, according to the American Congregations report.” Relevant and engaging worship is critical for the sake of church mission and so she needs to launch into innovative worship again. While writing the book “Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations” one major takeaway was that innovative worship kept younger churches not only growing, but their worship more joyful too. Read Earl’s article for good insights based on Hartford Seminary’s report.

Fewer Churches Changing Worship Style
by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, 3/31/16.

Most churches appear to have settled on their preferred worship style, according to the American Congregations 2015 study, as the growth of contemporary music in worship has “largely plateaued” and churches’ willingness to change worship has declined over the last five years…

These three points demonstrate the static nature of worship in American churches.

1. Most see their church worship as similar to five years ago. When asked to describe their services as joyful, reverent, or thought provoking, there were only slight variations in the last five years.

Those describing their worship as very joyful grew less than 1 percent, while those calling their worship reverent decreased by slightly more than 2 percent. The percentage saying it was thought provoking remained the same.

2. Contemporary worship has plateaued. To avoid a vague definition of contemporary worship, researchers began asking churches if they used electric guitars. After a relatively large jump in usage toward the beginning of the century, growth has stalled.

Churches using electric guitars climbed almost 10 percent from 2000 to 2005, but since then growth has been under 2 percent in the last 10 years.

3. Fewer churches describe their worship as innovative. Churches where worship is described as “quite or very innovative” declined from 38 percent to 32 percent.

While it may signal less conflict over worship changes, less innovation does make churches less likely to grow or be healthy, according to the American Congregations report…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/fewer-churches-changing-worship-style/#.Vv0MLGH3aJI

DECLINE & Most church attendance less than 80 & over 55% are not growing #HartfordInstitute

By Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/21/16.

Most American churches have 80 or fewer worshippers each week and fewer than 45 percent of churches have grown more than 2 percent in the last five years, according to a study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research (American Congregations 2015 study).

Ultimately, it is God who brings growth to churches, but research shows several factors that are common in growing churches.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/7-statistics-that-predict-church-growth/#.Vu_fmEX3aJI

MULTIPLICATION & 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth #HartfordInstitute

By Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/21/16.

Analysis of the American Congregations 2015 study finds seven statistics played a role in which churches experienced significant growth since 2010.

1. Growing location — The old real estate adage applies to churches. Growth is connected to “location, location, location.”

More than half (59 percent) of churches in a new suburb grew at least 2 percent in the past five years. Those in other locations were less likely to experience similar growth—only 44 percent grew at that rate.

2. Younger congregation — Churches whose membership was at least a third senior adults were less likely to grow than other churches.

Only 36 percent of churches heavily attended by senior citizens grew 2 percent or more in the last five years. Almost half (48 percent) of churches where seniors were less than one-third grew.

3. Innovative worship — Congregations who describe their worship service as “very innovative” are almost 10 percent more likely to grow than others.

Less than 44 percent of churches that say they have little to some innovation in worship grew, while more than 53 percent of churches with very innovative worship grew.

4. Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.

For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.

5. Involved church members — Simply put, the more laity is involved in recruiting new people the more likely a church will grow.

How likely is it that a church grew? For those whose laity was …

  • Not at all involved: 35 percent
  • Involved a little or some: 45 percent
  • Involved quite a bit: 63 percent
  • Involvement a lot: 90 percent

6. Unique identity — If churches worked to discover and present to their community what makes them different from other area churches, they are more likely to grow.

Almost 58 percent of churches who distinguished themselves from other congregations grew, compared to 43 percent of churches who showed little to no difference.

7. Specialized program — Similarly, if churches establish a program as a congregational specialty, they are more likely to grow.

Close to 52 percent of churches that have at least one specialty grew, while less than 42 percent of congregations who claimed no specialty did the same.

These seven statistics from the American Congregations 2015 study give a picture of the churches bucking the trend of decline across U.S. churches.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/7-statistics-that-predict-church-growth/#.Vu_fmEX3aJI

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MEGACHURCH & How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Leadership Network points out that megachurches are internationally comprised of lower socio-economic congregants, while in No. America they are reaching mostly an upper socio-economic strata. This has implications for the goals and economies of megacongregations. For instance, is there greater responsibility put upon these churches and for what missional end? Read this article before you craft your answer.

By Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post, 7/24/15.

world-megachurches3.jpg&w=480

… while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having “2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community,” and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches

Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

In the United States, the median weekly attendance is about 2,750, while the median weekly in world megachurches is nearly 6,000. One factor that could explain the larger sizes on other continents is a lack of alternatives for believers.

“Outside the United States, it takes a large amount of charisma and capital to create a megachurch,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute. In the United States, however, competition among megachurches is fierce because it is easier to establish such communities. “It is harder to be massive here in U.S.,” Thumma added, citing zoning laws, safety inspections, construction and property costs.

Nevertheless, he believes that smaller megachurches do not lag behind in an international comparison. “I was just at four megachurches within a few miles of each other in Atlanta, and each of these cater to a slightly different audience,” Thumma said.

The differences between U.S. and global megachurches can even be noticed on satellite images. Abroad, megachurches are often constructed in the centers of cities, where they are accessed by foot, subway, bus or cab. In the United States, community members usually access the churches by car. To provide the necessary parking lots, U.S. megachurches are often in suburban areas.

compare-megachurches2.jpg&w=480

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/07/24/how-u-s-style-megachurches-are-taking-over-the-world-in-5-maps-and-charts/

MEGACHURCHES & How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps and charts #TheWashingtonPost

By Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post,July 24, 2015.
world-megachurches3.jpg&w=480

Inside the gigantic Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, international flags decorate the walls. They are supposed to show that the house of worship accommodates more than an ordinary church – it is the world’s largest megachurch.

With more than 800,000 members, the Seoul-based community is at the forefront of a global phenomenon. Often located in stadium-like venues, these churches attract at least 2,000 believers every week, and can grow to attract tens of thousands of people. And while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having “2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community,” and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches

Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

city-megachurches3.jpg&w=480

In the United States, the median weekly attendance is about 2,750, while the median weekly in world megachurches is nearly 6,000. One factor that could explain the larger sizes on other continents is a lack of alternatives for believers.

“Outside the United States, it takes a large amount of charisma and capital to create a megachurch,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute. In the United States, however, competition among megachurches is fierce because it is easier to establish such communities. “It is harder to be massive here in U.S.,” Thumma added, citing zoning laws, safety inspections, construction and property costs…

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/07/24/how-u-s-style-megachurches-are-taking-over-the-world-in-5-maps-and-charts/