Statistical data among churches is on an up-swing. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. There are many key statistics that should encourage beleaguered churches and pastors.
The focus of this post is a summary of Dr. Thom Rainer’s podcast interview with Tony Morgan, head of The Unstuck Church Group. You can find The Unstuck Group here, and you can listen to Dr. Rainer’s interview here: NINE KEY STATISTICAL INSIGHTS FROM CHURCHES IN 2018.
Without giving away the entire podcast, here are 10 encouraging statistics for pastors and churches:
- CP giving: William Thornton has documented here that CP revenues will be up for the fiscal year. It’s encouraging to see churches giving more towards our cooperative efforts. State CP revenues are down and local associations are struggling, but that could be just a sign of the times.
- Increase in worship attendance: The Unstuck Church Group reports–in data compiled for the past twelve months–and increase in worship attendance among survey respondents. This makes sense; if the millennial generation is beginning to come back to church, there should be a corresponding statistical bump in worship attendance. I wonder if there was a statistical bump when the boomer generation began returning to church?
- Increase in participation: The Unstuck group also reports an increase in church life participation. Do you remember the saying, “20 percent of church members do 80 percent of the work?” In 20 years that saying might be revised to say, “50 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work.” That statistic is very encouraging. I’ve noticed in my church a decrease in the amount of pew sitters. When we add a member, that member typically finds a place of service.
- Increase in part time staff: There was an increase in the number of churches reporting part time ministers. This may not feel like an encouraging statistic for many pastors, but it means that more churches are understanding the need to leverage the community involvement of part time staff for the purposes of Kingdom growth. When I was hired, I asked my deacons, “What’s the number one priority you think I should have?” All my deacons said, “We want you out in the community.” They’ve allowed me to substitute teach, and participate in various community activities. That’s meant that I have less time to visit members in their homes, but the trade off has been worthwhile. Every church should encourage their pastor and staff to be involved in the community. If that means less personal attention for the sake of building relationship for Kingdom growth, then that’s a sacrifice every church member should be willing to make. I hope the increase in part time staff does not mean that more pastors are being paid a part time salary, but have full time demands.
- Giving is up: Is this statistic a surprise? It makes sense from a statistical standpoint. If the millennial generation returns to church, and our earnings increase, then giving per-capita should increase. Couple the giving per capita increase with the increase in part time staff, and you have more money for ministry. This statistic may also reflect the current economic conditions in our country.
- More multi-site churches: The multi-site church movement is only going to gain momentum. Churches can do multi-site with a smart phone and high speed internet connection. This may also mean more money for ministry and may be a reason why state CP and local association revenues are down. Some churches are just creating their own associations and networks.
- Fewer plateaued or declining churches: I don’t know the exact location of this statistic, but sometime in the past year I heard the statistic that somewhere between 66% of churches are now plateaued. That’s down from the 85% statistic we hear. This is probably enhanced by the recent focus on church planting and the deaths of many declining churches.
- Another 80 percent rule–Surveys indicate that 80 percent of non-Christians will come to church if invited by a friend. That should encourage all of us, especially pastors, to engage with non-Christians and invite them to church.
- SBC Harmony–This one is for the SBC pastors. We should be encouraged at the relative harmony that was shown at the annual meeting in Dallas. The expected disunity did not materialize and all suspected controversial votes passed with an overwhelming majority.
- Jesus is Lord–I want to encourage my fellow pastors today with the profound phrase: Jesus is Lord.
Those are my encouragements for today. If I have erred in any of the statistical data, please share your corrections and insights, and I encourage you to go listen to Dr. Rainer’s podcast.