Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: a few years ago, I wrote a book called “Cure for the Common Church.” And these were the exact same three elements of a healthy church that I found. Read this article for more insights on the importance of these three pillars of a healthy church.
By Marissa Postell Sullivan
The authority of Scripture is foundational to churches’ groups and discipleship strategies. More than 9 in 10 (97%) U.S. Protestant pastors say Scripture is the authority for their church and their lives, with 89% strongly agreeing. Meanwhile, 2% disagree, and 1% are not sure. Protestant pastors have consistently considered Scripture to be the authority for their church and their lives since Lifeway Research began asking this question in 2008.
Even as pastors hold on to the authority of Scripture, it has become increasingly difficult for pastors to move worship attendees into small groups where they’ll study Scripture. On average, Protestant churches say 44% of their current weekend worship attendees are involved in a small group, Sunday School or similar group, indicating a decline in average small group attendance since 2010 (49%).
… Mainline churches are also more likely to struggle with small group participation than evangelical churches. Pastors of mainline churches (28%) are more likely than evangelical pastors (21%) to report less than 25% of attendees involved in groups.
Commitments to Christ and continued discipleship
As churches have struggled to develop small group attendees, large numbers of new commitments to Christ are becoming less common. In the past 12 months, Protestant churches have seen an average of 15 new commitments to Christ. Churches are most likely to say they’ve seen one to four new commitments in the past year (29%). Around 1 in 5 say they have seen five to nine (21%) or 10-19 (20%) new commitments. Fewer are on the extremes of having no new commitments (17%) or 20 or more (13%). Compared to 2010, fewer churches today are seeing at least 20 new commitments in a year (20% v. 13%).
“Previous research has shown people who regularly attend groups share with others how to become a Christian and invite people to church more often,” McConnell said. “As we see less participation in groups, it is not surprising that churches see fewer people coming to Christ.”
… On average, 79% of new commitments to Christ become active in the life of the church. More than half of Protestant churches (56%) retained all new commitments. This indicates a slight improvement since 2008 when 51% of churches retained all new commitments.
Once again, mainline churches are more likely than evangelical churches to struggle to gain new commitments. Mainline pastors are more likely than evangelicals to report no new commitments (23% v. 15%).
Serving in the church and community
As pastors continue to report new commitments to Christ, 9 in 10 Protestant pastors say they are consistently hearing reports of changed lives in their church (90%), with 36% strongly agreeing. Around 1 in 10 disagree (10%). Another 1% are not sure…
The percentage of adults who attend church at least monthly and have regular responsibilities at the church varies greatly. On average, 42% of adults in Protestant churches volunteer regularly. Most churches say at least 20% of adults in their congregations serve regularly in the church. Around 1 in 4 pastors say 20-39% (28%), 40-59% (25%) or 60% or more (28%) of the adults in their churches volunteer regularly in the church. But 18% of pastors say less than 20% of adults in their churches regularly volunteer. That’s a substantial increase from the 13% of pastors who said the same in 2008.
Read more at … https://research.lifeway.com/2023/03/07/research-reveals-importance-of-small-groups-evangelism-assimilation-for-church-growth/
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