Worship attendance on a given Sunday has dipped below an average of 100 for the first time since the Hartford Institute for Religious Research first started keeping track in 2000. In 2005, 47% of U.S. churches were averaging below 100 in attendance, but that number has jumped to 58% in 2015 as mainline churches and the majority of other denominations saw attendance declines as well.
Why this matters for church leaders:
Churches that hope to reach more people for the gospel need to know that overall attendance is declining across the board.
- No longer a mainline problem: While previous declines in church attendance had been largely isolated to the mainline congregations and the loss of nominal Christians, this shift signals that the decline in church attendance throughout America should be on every leader’s mind.
- How to bring more people into church? Research indicates that the most effective way to bring new people into church is to plant more churches, but the question remains whether plateaued ministries can be turned around effectively and efficiently.
- What are you measuring? Of course you’ll never know if your church is a part of this negative trend if you don’t keep track of attendance, giving, small group participation, and volunteer involvement.
Is your church on the rise, decline, or plateau right now? Does something need to change?
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