Friday, August 21, 2009

Is this a religious nation?

While flying through Atlanta on the way to West Virginia in June, I picked up a copy of Rodney Stark's research: What Americans Really Believe.

I have cherished our Christian heritage in America and have appreciated the founding fathers and others who gave voice to that. I was disappointed the President suggested recently we were not a Christian nation. Here are the facts about the US today according to the Baylor study.

He pointed out that America is actually increasing in its commitment to church membership: From page 12, here are the facts:

Percent of Americans Who Belong to a Local Congregation

1776 17%
1850 34%
1870 35%
1890 45%
1906 51%
1952 59%
1980 62%
1990 64%
2005 69%

While there are many issues and problems with religion today, no one can say that church membership is declining over all. The shift in church membership is from old mainline (especially liberal) churches to the non-denominational, designer churches in many cases.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Great News!

I hear many people talking about the graying of the churches, but did you know that churches of Christ have a larger percentage of young adults than the national average. In fact, we rank #3 among major religious group in having the most adults aged 18-29.

According to the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, the total population percentage of adults aged 18-29 numbers 20, yet churches of Christ have 22 percent in that category! In fact, only two religious groups had more adults that age (Pentecostal with black tradition and Church of God in Christ). The Baptist in the Historically Black tradition had 22 percent, and the non-denominational in the mainline tradition also had 22 percent. (see pages 82-83 of this report)

Well, we are not dying as some think!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some Encouraging Statistics

According to Flavil Yeakley, who presented this material at FHU a few years ago, one can say these things about churches of Christ:

* 12th largest religious group in America
* 6th fastest growing church in America
* 4th in the nation in the total number of congregations
* 5th in the nation in number of counties in which there is a congregation
* 1st in the nation in distribution of congregations
* 1st in the nation in weekly attendance

According to a survey by Barna about five years ago, churches of Christ were first in donations among religious groups (for our size).

Each year there are about 1250 new church plantings and about 3750 church closings in the United States. This is a loss of 2500 religious congregations per year.

When you consider that we lost only 69 churches of Christ (2000-2006) out of a total of 15,000 and yet have the fourth most congregations throughout the US, this is rather remarkable! Even the loss of 350 in the last three years (2006-2009) out of 7,500 is rather small.

Let's not be discouraged. We are not pitiful and not dying. Many of our losses were actually mergers.


The call for changing doctrine or die is premature...