TRENDS & 73% of American churches are declining & we are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches (from 12% to 3%) and a marked increase in churches declining toward death (10% to 19%). #LifeWay

by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 6/3/19.

Based upon an aggregate of several research projects, I made some notes of growth and decline rates of churches and summarized my estimates into five categories by worship attendance changes over the previous five-year period. I compiled the following numbers ten years ago:

Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2009

  • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 12%
  • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 23%
  • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 34%
  • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 21%
  • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 10%

This past week I conducted the same exercise based on some of my updated research and the research of others and estimated the following:

Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2019

  • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 3%
  • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 24%
  • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 32%
  • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 22%
  • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 19%

My numbers admittedly are estimates, but they do have some quantitative basis, such as denominational statistics, research by LifeWay Research, and the data available in the increasing number of consultation and coaching requests we receive.

Obviously, the staggering reality of these numbers is the pronounced change in the two extreme categories. We are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches and a marked increase in churches declining toward death.

Read more at … https://thomrainer.com/2019/06/the-faster-pace-of-decline-toward-death-of-many-congregations/

CONSULTING & Thom Rainer on 8 Reasons Why “Revitalizing Pastors Need Coaching”

by Thom Rainer, ThomRainer.com, 3/14/19.

Having someone walking along with you in ministry is important. Today we discuss how a coach can specifically help you as you look to lead a revitalization.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Outside perspective helps you see your ministry impact from a different vantage point.
  • It’s important for you to have someone in your life who has been through more than you to help you process decisions.
  • If you’re coaching someone in ministry, your number one job is to encourage them.
  • Too many pastors are starving for encouragement.

The eight reasons we cover are:

  1. For an outsider perspective
  2. For wisdom and counsel
  3. For encouragement
  4. For venting
  5. For resources
  6. For a break and breather
  7. For the family
  8. For dealing with the complexity of culture

Listen to the podcast here … https://thomrainer.com/2019/03/why-revitalizing-pastors-need-coaching-revitalize-replant-084/

ONLINE CHURCH & 9 takeaways from recent research

by Thom Rainer, ThomRainer.com, 3/11/19.

Research is from Vanderbloemen, Pushpay, and Jay Kranda. All of the 176 churches participating in the study have an online church, so we are hearing from those who are presently very active in this ministry

Some of the key findings of this study? Here are nine insights:

  1. The plurality of churches have a volunteer lead the online ministry. This ministry is led by a volunteer in about four of ten churches. Another 35 percent give the leadership to a full-time staff person who has other responsibilities.
  2. The dominant broadcast method is live streaming. Among these churches, nine of ten congregations broadcast through live streaming. But over half also have the full service on demand.
  3. The opportunity to reach local community members is significant.Over four of ten of those attending online are people within a reasonable driving distance of the church. Most of the churches view the online community as a first step to move them toward the in-person gathering.
  4. Most of these churches do count online attendance. Of the churches surveyed, 72 percent report online attendance, but keep it separate from in-person attendance. Fewer than 10 percent include online attendance as part of the overall total weekly attendance.
  5. There is little consistency on how churches count online attendance.The most frequent response, but only by 26 percent of the churches, is “concurrent streamers at a given time.”
  6. There is anecdotal evidence that indicates the online church is actually a growth source for the in-person church. Some of the church leaders see the online church as part of a process that may progress from social media to online church to community groups to in-person worship services.
  7. Over half of the churches are considering using the online church to launch future churches and sites.Already, 17 percent of the churches are embracing this strategy. In total, over 60 percent are considering this strategy, or they are already doing it.
  8. More older churches are using an online church strategy than younger churches. For example, churches over 50 years old accounted for nearly 30 percent of the total, while churches under five years old accounted for less than 15 percent of the total.
  9. Five ministries are offered online by a majority of the churches. They are: prayer (81%); giving opportunities (72%); pastoral care (58%); serving opportunities (54%); and online groups (52%).

I am thankful to Vanderbloemen, Pushpay, and Jay Kranda for providing this information. You can get the full study here.

Read more here … https://thomrainer.com/2019/03/new-research-and-insights-on-the-online-church/

MULTIPLICATION & The 5 Levels of Churches Explained & the Percentage of Churches in Each Level. #NewResearch #Exponential

by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 3/6/19.

In addition to the categorization of churches as

  • declining/subtracting (Level 1),
  • plateauing (Level 2), and
  • growing/adding (Level 3),
  • the study looked at two other supplemental categories.
    • A Level 4 (reproducing) church places a high value and priority on starting new churches.
    • A level 5 (multiplying) church takes church planting to multiple generations of congregations.

    … Here are some of the fascinating findings:

    1. 70% of churches are
    2. subtracting/declining or plateauing. Only 30% are adding/growing based on Exponential’s categorization of churches which is defined above. This data is largely consistent with other research we have done. The period covered is three years.
    3. There are relatively few reproducing churches. The research categorized only 7% of the churches as reproducing (Level 4). The numbers of churches considered multiplying (Level 5: multiple generations of church plants) was 0% in the sample, indicating a negligible number in the total U. S. church population.
    4. The majority of Protestant churches had less than 10 people commit to Jesus Christ as Savior in the past 12 months. That’s fewer than one person per month. That’s not good. That’s not good at all.
    5. Smaller churches are at severe risk.Among those churches with an average worship attendance under 50, only 20% are growing. That is the lowest of any of the categories of churches and is an indicator that these churches are at the greatest risk of dying.
    6. Larger churches have a much lower risk of dying. Among the churches with an average worship attendance of 250 and more, 42% are growing. That is, by far, the largest number of growing churches in any category.

    Read more at… https://thomrainer.com/2019/03/major-new-research-on-declining-plateaued-and-growing-churches-from-exponential-and-lifeway-research/

    CHRISTMAS EVE & Non-Christians are more likely to come to worship services on Christmas Eve than any other day of the year, including Easter. What churches are doing.

    by Thom Rainer, Facts and Trends, 12/6/18.

    …Non-Christians are more likely to come to worship services on Christmas Eve than any other day of the year, including Easter. Church leaders get it. They are putting more prayer, preparation, and strategic thinking into the services.

    There are three popular times for the service. Whether a church has one or multiple Christmas Eve services, three times are more popular than others: later afternoon (typically for families with young children and for older adults); early evening (the more traditional time); and late evening (for empty nesters and families with teenage or grown children).

    The services are traditional. They include traditional hymns and carols. They may include some time for the lighting of the final advent candle.

    The services are brief. The typical length is 30 to 45 minutes.

    The pastor’s message is brief. The typical length is 10 to 15 minutes.

    Most churches include candlelight services. They are now expected by Christians and non-Christians alike.

    Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/12/06/9-trends-in-christmas-eve-church-services/

    TRANSFER GROWTH & In the past, churches could grow by drawing nominal Christians as there was still a cultural benefit to church attendance. “That is no longer the case.” #ThomRainer

    by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 6/14/18.

    … (Rainer:) “ministry is harder now than it used to be.” In the past, he said, churches could grow by drawing in nominal Christians as there was still a cultural benefit to church attendance. “That is no longer the case,” he said.

    Many churches rightly jettisoned a programmatic approach to evangelism, but they failed to replace it with anything else, Rainer asserted. “Instead of reaching out,” he said, “they became inward-focused.”

    Yet Rainer was optimistic about the future as he spoke at the breakfast with Jonathan Howe, director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay and co-host of the “Rainer on Leadership” podcast.

    Rainer noted the importance of personal evangelism in seeing a denominational renewal. “The way to turn things around is if every member of every church will answer the call of the Great Commission and say, ‘Here am I. Send me,’” he said. That includes pastors and leaders.

    …Rainer noted the importance of personal evangelism in seeing a denominational renewal. “The way to turn things around is if every member of every church will answer the call of the Great Commission and say, ‘Here am I. Send me,’” he said. That includes pastors and leaders.

    Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/06/13/thom-rainer-points-way-forward-despite-denominational-challenges/

    CHURCH HEALTH & 7 Church Illnesses as seen by #ThomRainer

    by Thom Rainer, 3/21/18

    1. Attitudinal Angst
    2. Slippage Syndrome
    3. Detail Distraction
    4. Institutional Idolatry
    5. Activity Acclimation
    6. Purposeless Prayer
    7. Detrimental Defensiveness

    Read more at … https://thomrainer.com/2018/03/seven-potentially-deadly-church-sicknesses-2/