TRENDS & American Bible Society finds while overall Bible reading has dramatically decreased over the last year, nearly two-thirds of people who seldom or never read the Bible indicate some curiosity toward Scripture.

American Bible Society, 4/6/22.

The American Bible Society today released the first chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding faith and the Bible. Today’s release shows that while overall Bible reading has dramatically decreased over the last year, nearly two-thirds of people who seldom or never read the Bible indicate some curiosity toward Scripture. The first chapter, The Bible in America, is available to download atStateoftheBible.org.

“Our research clearly shows that when people read the Bible and apply its message, it brings them hope and introduces them to full life in Christ. That’s why it’s disheartening to see that millions of Americans have lost interest in the Bible. And millions more are struggling to connect Scripture to their daily lives,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “We can’t tell how long this disruption will last, but we know that church leaders and other Bible advocates have a tremendous opportunity to help people in their communities understand and apply Scripture. Now is a critical time to point our neighbors to the good news of hope found in God’s Word.”

Read more at … https://news.americanbible.org/blog/entry/corporate-blog/newly-released-12th-annual-state-of-the-bible-report

reMIX & Hispanic Population Growth and Dispersion Across U.S. Counties, 1980-2020. #PewResearch #InteractiveMap

by Pew Research, 3/3/22.

U.S. Hispanic population by county,  1980

In 1980, the U.S. population of 226.5 million included 14.6 million Hispanics. Fully 68% of the Hispanic population was concentrated in the 47 counties (out of more than 3,100) that had at least 50,000 Hispanic residents. The map below shows where Hispanics lived in the United States in 1980 and provides detailed information on the 10 counties with the largest Hispanic populations.

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/interactives/hispanic-population-by-county/

ONLINE GIVING & Researchers found 31% of churches use online giving and their giving is increased by an average $114 per person!  If online giving is emphasized, per capita giving increases by an average of $300 person!

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Here is research by Hartford Seminary’s “Resources for Congregational Leaders” and is developed from their “Resources for Congregational Leaders.”

Ways Congregations Can Improve Their Virtual Presence to Members During This Time of Crisis

by Sarah Brown, Faith Communities Today, 3/18/20.

Online Giving

Our FACT 2015 study showed that 31% of congregations use online giving and if the congregation uses it at all, giving is increased by an average $114 per person! If online giving is emphasized by the congregation a lot, per capita giving increases by an average of $300 person!

Read more at … https://faithcommunitiestoday.org/improving-virtual-presence-of-congregations/

reMIX & Diverse Congregations Are Stronger Congregations: “One hopeful trend in Faith Communities Today’s 2020 survey findings is that the percentage of multiracial congregations in the U.S. has doubled over the past two decades, from 12% to 25% of all faith communities.” #LewisCenterForChurchLeadership

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Co-author Mark DeYmaz and I wrote a book about how to transition in a church into a multicultural church (reMIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color in). And though we’ve helped dozens of church transition over the past two decades, we hoped research would show if overall, churches have improved in their diversity. And they have! Check out the results from Faith Communities Today’s 2020 survey.

By Faith Communities Today Lewis Center for Church Leadership, November 2, 2021

One hopeful trend in Faith Communities Today’s 2020 survey findings is that the percentage of multiracial congregations in the U.S. has doubled over the past two decades, from 12% to 25% of all faith communities. The 2020 FACT Survey Report also reveals that congregational diversity correlates to increased growth, spiritual vitality, and a clearer sense of mission and purpose.

Over the past 20 years our society has become ever-increasingly more diverse in a broad range of ways. Not surprisingly these changes are reflected in the nation’s congregations as well. The most apparent in this research is the growth of multiracial congregations. By multiracial, we mean a congregation that has 20% or more of participants who are not part of the dominant racial group in that religious community. The first FACT Survey in 2000 found 12% of faith communities were multiracial, and 20 years later this number has climbed to 25%.A varied faith community that more accurately represents the variety of American society racially, economically, age-wise, culturally, and with persons of all abilities enhances vitality and flourishing.

Those congregations who said that striving to be a diverse community described them “very well” were indeed more likely to be multiracial. However, this openness to diversity also manifests itself in communities having a greater percentage of immigrants, a larger percentage of individuals with special needs, fewer lifelong members of their particular faith tradition, and a more diverse age, economic, and educational profile among their participants.

Diversity strengthens religious communities.

Amid a resurgence of Christian Nationalism and the considerable adverse religious reaction to movements asserting racial justice and opposing structural racism, it is essential to point out that the diversity of a religious community actually strengthens it. This diversity correlates to increased growth, spiritual vitality, a clearer sense of mission and purpose, and other attributes of a flourishing community.

Graphic showing greater racial diversity pays dividends

Diversity and growth

The percentage of growing multiracial congregations is greater than those in decline and is only surpassed by the growth rate of congregations in religious traditions outside of Christianity.

Graphic showing five-year growth rates vary widely by type of congregation

It is clear that being multiracial and embracing all dimensions of diversity isn’t a panacea to decline. Nevertheless, having a varied faith community that more accurately represents the variety of American society (racially, economically, age-wise, culturally, and with persons of all abilities) enhances vitality and flourishing

Read more at … https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/diverse-congregations-are-stronger-congregations/

CHURCH REVITALIZATION & Why it is needed more than ever! Researchers discover more Protestant churches closed in 2019 than opened — continuing a decades-long congregational slide that is only expected to accelerate. Pre-pandemic 75-150 churches close per week!

I have helped 100s of churches turnaround. And I’ve written & taught DMin courses in three seminaries on “How to Turnaround a Church.”

If your church wants to preserve its legacy and grow … then contact me today at http://www.Leadership.Church

“Study: More churches closing than opening” by Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service, 5/22/21.

A new study from Lifeway Research suggests more Protestant churches closed in 2019 than opened — continuing a decades-long congregational slide that is only expected to accelerate.

The study, which analyzed church data from 34 Protestant denominations and groups, found that 4,500 churches closed in 2019, while about 3,000 new congregations were started. The 34 Protestant denominations account for about 60% of U.S.-based Protestant denominations.

“Even before the pandemic, the pace of opening new congregations was not even providing enough replacements for those that closed their doors,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.

The study also pointed to the hastening of church closures. In 2014, it found, there were 3,700 church closures, compared with 4,500 in 2019.

…That study, published in April, estimated that in the decade ending in 2020, 3,850 to 7,700 houses of worship closed per year in the United States, or 75 to 150 congregations per week. It also projected those numbers will double or triple in the wake of the pandemic.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/05/26/study-more-churches-closing-than-opening/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Study%3A%20More%20churches%20closing%20than%20opening&utm_campaign=ni_newsletter

reMIX & Denominations rooted in Africa and Asia now have hundreds of congregations throughout the U.S., which continue to grow. As much as Hispanics have supported Catholicism’s numbers, today there are more Latinx Protestants in the U.S. than Episcopalians.

Sociologists also report that the experience of immigration increases the intensity of whatever religious convictions are held by migrants. They find religious homes in the U.S. within existing congregations and through establishing new ones, often using the facilities of declining churches. Denominations rooted in Africa and Asia now have hundreds of congregations throughout the U.S., which continue to grow. As much as Hispanics have supported Catholicism’s numbers, today there are more Latinx Protestants in the U.S. than Episcopalians.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

remix cover

reMIX & People of color are actually preventing a more precipitous drop in overall church participation. The Assemblies of God, one of the few denominations showing growth, saw its white membership decrease in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014, but nonwhite members increased by 43%.

… What’s dramatically declining in the U.S. is white Christianity. People of color are actually preventing a more precipitous drop in overall church participation. The Assemblies of God, one of the few denominations showing growth, saw its white membership decrease in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014, but nonwhite members increased by 43%, reflecting trends continuing today. One-third of U.S. Catholics are now Hispanic. Without its growing nonwhite members, the Catholic Church would be in free fall instead of remaining at about 22% of the U.S. population.

The nones who enjoy lattes at downtown coffee shops on Sunday mornings instead of singing in church are largely young, hip and white. But the country’s demographic future as a whole is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and this will impact the religious landscape.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

TRENDS & The primary challenge facing pastors … is how to invite nonmembers into an authentic experience of God rather than persuade them to join or rejoin a religious organization.

… The decline of membership in churches, synagogues and mosques cannot be equated with decline in religious curiosity or practice. When nones are asked why they have disaffiliated from any religious organization, only 22% say it is because they do not believe in God. The primary challenge facing pastors, rabbis and imams is how to invite nonmembers into an authentic experience of God rather than persuade them to join or rejoin a religious organization.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson. Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

TRENDS & U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time Due to Millennials, Gen. Z., Less Emphasis Upon Membership & Those With “No Religious Preference.” #Gallup

by Jeffrey M Jones, Gallup, 4/29/21.

… Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

Line graph. U.S. church membership was 73% in 1937 when Gallup first measured it. It stayed near 70% through 2000 before beginning to decline, to 61% in 2010 and 47% in 2020.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21stcentury.

As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years…

Decline in Membership Tied to Increase in Lack of Religious Affiliation

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion — 4% in the 2018-2020 data — say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who dohave a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.

Line graph. Changes in church membership among Americans who express a religious preference or affiliation. Between 1998 and 2000, 73% of religious Americans were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. That dipped to 70% between 2008 and 2010, and it fell to 60% between 2018 and 2020.

Generational Differences Linked to Change in Church Membership

Church membership is strongly correlated with age, as 66% of traditionalists — U.S. adults born before 1946 — belong to a church, compared with 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X and 36% of millennials. The limited data Gallup has on church membership among the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood are so far showing church membership rates similar to those for millennials.

The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong. The change has become increasingly apparent in recent decades because millennials and Gen Z are further apart from traditionalists in their church membership rates (about 30 points lower) than baby boomers and Generation X are (eight and 16 points, respectively). Also, each year the younger generations are making up an increasingly larger part of the entire U.S. adult population.

Read more at … https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx?

reMIX & Those who enjoy lattes at downtown coffee shops on Sunday mornings instead of singing in church are largely young, hip and white. But the country’s demographic future as a whole is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and this will impact the religious landscape.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

For strategies almost any church can utilize to become a church of living color see my and Mark DeYmaz’s Abingdon Dress book: reMIX – Transitioning Your Church to Living Color.

TRENDS & Among older and younger Americans, men tend to trend more atheist than women. But between the ages of 35 and 45 the genders converge. See the graph.

By , The Conversation, 2/17/21.

Faith in numbers: Behind the gender difference of nonreligious Americans

… According to data from the Nationscape survey, which polled over 6,000 respondents every week for 18 months in the runup to the 2020 election, men are in general more likely than women to describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. The survey, conducted by the independent Democracy Fund in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, was touted as one of the largest such opinion polls ever conducted.

However, tracking the gender gap by age reveals that at one point the gap between men and women narrows. Between the ages of 30 and 45, men are no more likely to be religiously unaffliated than women of the same age. 

But the gap appears again among older Americans. Over the age of 60, men are 5 to 8 percentage points more likely to express no religious affiliation.

Read more at … https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VjOvW/2/

BORN-AGAIN & The share of Americans of all races who self-identify as “born-again or evangelical” is substantively unchanged in the last 11 years. @RyanBurge

by Ryan Burge, Asst. Prof. of Political Science: @eiu. Cofounder: @Religion_Public. Pastor: @AmericanBaptist.

The phrase, “decline of evangelicalism” is something that needs to be caveated a bunch. Here’s just one. The share of Americans of all races who self-identify as “born-again or evangelical” is substantively unchanged in the last 11 years.

All the hot takes about how Trump has turned large groups of people against evangelicalism just don’t show up in the data, btw.

Share who identify as evangelical/born-again in 2008 vs 2019.

18-35: 28%-27%

36-44: 35%-30%

45-54: 36%-34%

55-64: 37%-37%

65+: 37%-35%

The share of Americans who identify as Protestants has dropped from 42.8% in 2010 to 35.1% in 2019.

The decline in born-again Protestants is 1.2%, it’s 6.5% for not born-again. 55% of

Protestants were born-again in 2010, by 2018 it had risen to 65%.

Follow him on Twitter for reliable and valid research with analysis … @RyanBurge

BORN-AGAIN & The share of Americans of all races who self-identify as “born-again or evangelical” is substantively unchanged in the last 11 years. @RyanBurge

by Ryan Burge, Asst. Prof. of Political Science: @eiu. Cofounder: @Religion_Public. Pastor: @AmericanBaptist.

The phrase, “decline of evangelicalism” is something that needs to be caveated a bunch. Here’s just one. The share of Americans of all races who self-identify as “born-again or evangelical” is substantively unchanged in the last 11 years.

All the hot takes about how Trump has turned large groups of people against evangelicalism just don’t show up in the data, btw.

Share who identify as evangelical/born-again in 2008 vs 2019.

18-35: 28%-27%

36-44: 35%-30%

45-54: 36%-34%

55-64: 37%-37%

65+: 37%-35%

The share of Americans who identify as Protestants has dropped from 42.8% in 2010 to 35.1% in 2019.

The decline in born-again Protestants is 1.2%, it’s 6.5% for not born-again. 55% of

Protestants were born-again in 2010, by 2018 it had risen to 65%.

Follow him on Twitter for reliable and valid research with analysis … @RyanBurge

TRENDS & These countries will have the largest populations – by the end of the century. #WorldEconomicForum

by Iman Ghosh, World Economic Forum, 9/8/20.

  • By 2100, the global population could surpass 11 billion, according to predictions by the UN.
  • Currently China, India and the USA have the three largest populations in the world, but by 2100, this will have changed to India, Nigeria and China, respectively.
populations growth density change 2100 end of century  china india nigeria usa us united states
World population peak.Image: Visual Capitalist

Read more at … https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/the-world-population-in-2100-by-country/

ONLINE CHURCH & Research finds mature Christians will return to in-person worship. Yet “seekers” are more likely to attend online worship. “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” in paperback & Kindle on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Whitesel/ my #14thBook. #Post-PandemicChurchBook.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Looking into this Pew research it is clear to me that while faithful parishioners will be back in-person once the pandemic is over, it is “the seekers” who are more likely to seek online worship. Therefore in the future a healthy church that reaches out to unchurched people must have a robust online ministry. This is why I call it the eReformation.

“Will the coronavirus permanently convert in-person worshippers to online streamers? They don’t think so” by Alan Cooperman, Pew Research, 8/17/20.

… most U.S. adults overall say that when the pandemic is over, they expect to go back to attending religious services in person as often as they did before the coronavirus outbreak.How we did this

Few expect pandemic to permanently alter their religious worship routines

To be sure, a substantial share of Americans (43%) say they didn’t attend religious services in person before the pandemic struck and they don’t plan to start going to a church or other house of worship when it’s all over. But 42% of U.S. adults say they plan to resume going to religious services about as often as they did before the outbreak, while 10% say they will go more often than they used to, and just 5% anticipate going less often.

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/08/17/will-the-coronavirus-permanently-convert-in-person-worshippers-to-online-streamers-they-dont-think-so/

RELEASED TODAY! My #14thBook w/Biblical foundations from my PhD research to increase survivability & grow. “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” in paperback & Kindle on Amazon.

Amazon Links

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Growing the Post-pandemic Church: A Leadership.church Guide, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F5L7S1T/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_DSDlFbA5FTSM5

Paperback

Growing the Post-pandemic Church: A Leadership.church Guide

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TRENDS & Is the Political Left Becoming More Religious? What sociologists found. #OxfordUniversity #AssociationForTheSociologyOfReligion

Is the Religious Left Resurgent?” by Joseph O Baker, Gerardo Martí, Sociology of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, Summer 2020, Pages 131–141, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sraa004 Published: 08 April 2020

Abstract:

Journalistic sources seem to suggest that there has been a resurgence of the American Religious Left (i.e., politically liberal Christians who support progressive agendas) in the wake of the strong support from the conservative Christian right in the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump. Using quantitative analysis, we draw on survey data from the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the National Congregations Study to assess the possibility of a resurgence among the Religious Left. In comparison with a speculated rise, our analysis indicates a notable decline in both the prevalence and engagement of Americans who self-identify as both religious and politically liberal. Not only is the constituency of the Religious Left shrinking, they have also been steadily disengaging from political activity in the last decade. Especially when looking at more recent elections, it has been those among the Secular Left who have been the most politically engaged. We summarize these empirical patterns in relation to the Religious Right and consider the potential for influence among the Religious Left aside from electoral politics. We also briefly consider other possibilities for their political impact and reflect on the inadequacy of the label “Religious Left” for capturing important dynamics. In the end, we urge greater attention to politics among sociologists of religion, providing a set of research questions to consider in light of the upcoming American 2020 national election.

Read more via … https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/81/2/131/5818067?redirectedFrom=fulltext