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Monday, December 05, 2005

The State of the Church: 2006

Church5Today we hear from guest blogger Andy McAdams.  Andy is the director of Pastor to Pastors Ministry, a division of Church Dynamics International.  Andy writes...

You may have seen some of these stats before.   This list is an accumulation of research that I conducted over the past few years.  In fact God used my conclusions to cause me to resign my church of 15 years.  I could no longer sit by allowing the majority of churches in America to struggle.  No matter what we hear about the mega-church movement (sorry Todd) the reality is most American churches are in trouble.  So I decided to do something about it and travel wherever needed to come along side the pastors of those small and medium size churches that desperately need help.  Why not, something did it for me when I needed them to. 

The Condition of the Church in America
Complied by Andy McAdams

1.      1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly.

2.      Less then 20% of churches recognize or appreciated their pastor in some way annually.

3.      Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.

4.      10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period.

5.      Only 45% of the U.S. population, attend church regularly.

6.      The number of people in America that Do Not attend church has doubled in the past 15 years.

7.      No more then 38% of the population attends church at all and that’s in the Bible belt.  The next highest is the Midwest at 25%, West 21% and the Northeast 17%.

8.      Though the Bible Belt still boasts the highest percentage of church attendees, yet many of those churches are filled with legalism or extreme liberalism. 

9.      The vast majority of churches have an attendance of less then 75.

10.  In 70 % of the churches in America, the pastor is the only full-time staff person

11.  There are almost 100 million unchurched Americans, 11-20% of them claim to be born-again.  They have either left the church or never connected for some reason.

12.  The median adult attendance per church service in 1999 was 90 people, which is slightly below the 1998 average of 95 adult attendees and in 1997 it was 102.  There seems to be a slight gradual decline.

13.  Only 1/5 of the adult population attends Sunday school or some sort of Christian training.

14.  23% of church attendees say they attend a small group for growth and accountability.

15.  Only 65% of Americans donate to a place of worship.  Evangelicals however 85% donate to their church yet only 9% tithe.

16.  20-25% read their Bible consistently, 59% attend church weekly, 16% listen to Christian radio, 7% watch Christian TV, and 11% are held accountable to someone.

17.    Only 60% of Christians say they are deeply committed to their faith, yet 85% of evangelicals make this claim.

18.  Among the 71% of those who have heard of spiritual gifts, 31% can name a spiritual gift they believe they possess.

19.  One in four have a place in the church where they serve.

20.  Less then 50% say that the Bible is totally accurate, yet 60% of those that clam to be born-again.

21.  Just 1/3 of church attendees believes that they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others.

22.  56% of the population believe that salvation can be earned and shockingly, 26% are among evangelical churches.

23.  Giving to charities increased in the past decade yet giving to local churches is declining.

24.  Out of 100,000 churches in America less then 2% are considered mega-churches, (1,000 or more).

25.  In his book, "Who Shall Lead Them", Larry Withham said,
"20% Of US Churches Have No Future"

26.  1 out of 4 church attendees are considered church hoppers.

27.  On average, just 7% of new church attendees are formally unchurched.

FOR DISCUSSION:  What do you think?  What stood out to you?

Andy McAdams is the director of Pastor to Pastors Ministry, a division of Church Dynamics International. www.churchdynamics.org   With 30 years of local church ministry behind him, Andy now consults churches all over America in order to help them become healthy, dynamic, disciple making churches. 

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December 5, 2005 in Church Growth | Permalink

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Andy, I really enjoyed this. I believe that you hit the nail right on the head, on some of these issues. It is appualing of what has become of some churches, because of the role of leadership that is placed there.
There are churches here in our Association that have the mentality of
"TAKE OR LEAVE IT", If they take it then they are ridiculed, laughed at, and mistreated by other Christians. They will not help anyone in/ out of the Church.

"Unfaithful Pastor's" Pastor left his wife for another woman, divorced her, sued her, and married the woman he committed adultery with. Next thing you know there were some who felt sorry for him, and now he is pastoring a church again.

"Money hungry" there is one church here were the youth leader built up the youth to over ride the pastor to take the church away from him. A lady who was a member but never went there left them $100,000 when she died. Now the money is almost gone and they are talking about closing the doors. This same church has taken and ordained teenagers as deacons.

Posted by: Evangelist Jeff | Dec 5, 2005 11:29:40 AM

Maybe if we focused on more than the "abc" of churches: attendance, buildings, and cash, we would see far better statistics.

But as the old saying goes, there are three types of untruths:

Damn lies

Wondering if any of Andy's list falls into any of those categories?

Phil Hoover

Posted by: Phil Hoover-Chicago | Dec 5, 2005 12:54:51 PM

Question is, what are you going to do about it? Most probably think "just do a better job." Reggie McNeal says "No, do church differently." What's the goal? Get people into church? NO! The goal is to grow the kingdom. It can (and should?) be in groups outside the church building... at home and at the business.

Reggie's book:

People don't need to sit and hear boring lectures for an hour anymore. They can learn from the internet, books, etc. that our high-tech world offers.

Reggie says that if you think it's about building a huge church (club), you're wrong. People don't care about you and your brand. They want spiritual answers, and that's what we should be giving. We should be spiritual trainers (assisting others to grow spiritually), just like health clubs have physical trainers, and personalizing what people want or need to develop.


Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Dec 5, 2005 1:02:53 PM


I've heard Reggie McNeal talk, and that book is sitting on my desk, not read yet, and I'm going to read it sooner rather than later, since your and others comments on it have intrigued me.

I liked "19. One in four have a place in the church where they serve."

My own feeling is that this may be a root cause of many of the other problem statistics. Our church leaders are doing ministry instead of equipping God's people for ministry. (Eph 4:11-13)

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Dec 5, 2005 2:00:38 PM

I'd like to see someone do a "State of the Kingdom" study and see the similarities or contrasts with "State of the Church".

Posted by: Dean | Dec 5, 2005 2:18:16 PM

Peter said:
"Our church leaders are doing ministry instead of equipping God's people for ministry. (Eph 4:11-13)"

And Reggie further askss "where do they minister" once you equip them? Do you equip people to minister soley at church (ushers, parking lot directors, choir, etc.)? Or do you RELEASE them into the community (as math tutors, and helping the community with real comm8unity issues)? It makes a huge difference-- build the church or the community? Warren's PDL has a strong focus on activating people for God's work (good) and putting them to work building the local church (not so good; wrong place to place them; instead put them to work in the community doing good works and evangelizing like salt and light).

As you build the community, your "church" infrastructure and focus will downsize considerably. It's no longer about getting people into church and building a huge church; it's now about reaching people for Christ as if you are on the mission field (which we are).

I also see the need for balance. There is still a need/place for the building and gathering. The thing to question is the thrust of ministry of the church, and what the church is trying to accomplish.


Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Dec 5, 2005 2:32:26 PM

It is indeed a very sharp indicator of what our Christian churches have or are coming into. I am currently working with an independent Baptist church group who are just about to loose their pastor.

The church has been around for several decades under various names, but it still has a devote group that wants to see the work of the Lord continue from its door steps.

The pastor recently lost his sight in an accident and feels that he can no longer pour himself into his ministry there. I have been without a ministry for several months and happened to meet just as God planned it.

Many of my friends and family do not want me to become involved it the church because of its past. That doesn't bother me, but I sometimes think that its good wisdom coming from them.

Currently the church is running about 30 and had just gone through a split, second in so many years. I believe with my gifts and God's grace, we could make this time a charm. The local people are much like the survey, about 1 in 5 go to any church on any given Sunday.

Please pray for us that the Lord will give much wisdom and grace concerning this old, but new church.


Posted by: RevJay | Dec 5, 2005 4:11:55 PM

Bernie, you say "As you build the community, your "church" infrastructure and focus will downsize considerably." I disagree... sort of... there's still plenty of work to do IN the church, but, as we are always saying here at our church, if our church was really activated for ministry, and our people were all finding the place to use their gifts, then our ministry would spill out past the church walls. Now THAT'S the way to do it, I think. And at our church we have some great outreaches into the community, with at-risk youth (I'm talking OUTSIDE the youth group, btw), with missions, et cetera.

So I think we might actually agree on this, it's just a question of semantics.


Posted by: Peter Hamm | Dec 5, 2005 4:45:32 PM

Why do 5 and 7 contradict each other?

Posted by: Donnie | Dec 5, 2005 5:11:03 PM

Bonnie: 5 was "regular" and 7 was "attend at all" (once or twice year).

Peter, example from the book about ministry in church or out. A youth pastor teaches a youth group that meets not at church, but on college campus. Only 2 of the 20 members attend his church. The senior pastor, bottom line, cares mainly/only about "how many of those attend his church" and not how many overall the youth pastor is helping in the kingdom. See the difference in focus? See the difference in expectations and ministry?

It's quite different and radical than the status quo for churches, where the focus is always getting people into their church through various activities, rather than moving into the community. It's not a matter of "spilling out" as if it's overflow; it's a matter of directly pouring out and sending out.

That's what Jesus and the disciples did, traveling around. They didn't open a building and start activities to entice people into the building. Getting into the community and meeting with real unbelievers is scary, but that's how to do ministry.

Reggie McNeal says this is not an improvement in how to do church; rather it's turning the church inside-out. In fact, it's on the scale of another "reformation" like the protestant reformation.

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Dec 5, 2005 6:32:51 PM

Interesting how there is no mention of prayer in any of the above reasons about the state of the church. The apostles appointed leaders to take care of the running of things so they could devote themselves to the preaching of the Word and to prayer. Maybe this is why we are seeing such a decline in American churches. Not that it is the pastor's fault but the general lack of prayer on every level. Just a thought.

Posted by: ld | Dec 6, 2005 12:34:10 AM

Hi LD-

Prayer and being led by the Spirit of God are assumed. I'm sure, many times, they are false assumptions. Good reminder.

I think that when we pray for direction, God will tell us to do something beyond our ability; out of our comfort zone. Then we will need the Holy Spirit to empower us to do it. Without these two, we are doing religious works in the flesh. If successful, it will lead to self-righteousness and false humility... and burn-out (whether successful or not)...

Posted by: bernie dehler | Dec 6, 2005 2:16:58 AM

Since the birth of the "institutional church", there have been less and less effective congregations. The modern church is NOT the church that Christ gave birth to. It is a manmade institution that has to be constantly propped up, pumped life into, and made excuses for. We have to return to the focus on "old paths" of redemption, baptism, regeneration, sanctification, spirit-empowerment, evangelism, etc. The slick, marketing strategies and programs designed to draw the souls of man to itself are no match for the movement and conviction of the Holy Spirit that draws the spirits of men to Himself. A decision based on the soulish pleasures and promises of a "better way of life" does not last. However, when one humbly accepts the responsibility and penalty of ones sins, then sees the price of his redemption paid by a crucified Savior, true regeneration can then happen. The person then takes on the life of the Holy Spirit and it won't take continued prodding, pleasing, tickling to make him continue to serve the Master.

Posted by: Rev. Jones | Dec 6, 2005 1:46:05 PM

Your "State of the Church" items always make interesting reading. But there is one item that keeps popping up and I still don't know the truth of it.
Your #4 says "10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period." This kind of statement comes up all the time, but in different versions. "400 churches close each year? each month? each week?"
I saw the statement attributed to the American Society for Church Growth that "we are seeing a net loss of more than 58 churches per day in America...meaning that 58 more churches per day close than are starting up."
Can someone point me to the truth of the "closing" stats and give some authentication to church closings. It is a number I have been trying to pin down, with good research behind it.

Posted by: Ron Keener | Dec 13, 2005 11:24:13 AM

i am deeply concerned for the church and her lack of proactiveness in our community. i have looked high and low to find some resource material to help our area gain some vision for being "salt and light" realizing that EVERY PART of the body of Christ is needful to usher in the high exaltation of the Savior. I'm amazed that we are so carried away by our individual ministries that we cannot recognize the need we have for one another and the biblical mandate that we are one in Him as He (Jesus) was one with the Father. Can't we see that not many are interested in this relationship with God because of our failure at our relationship with others. Jesus said, "all men will know you are my diciples by the way you love one another." If anyone knows of any material to help steer us toward God's intention, please let me know. I am reading through Nehemiah now along with prayer and fasting, but perhaps God has revealed through His Word something i have yet to understand (without a doubt!). Please email me if you have a word.

Posted by: lee stillinger | Mar 14, 2006 11:02:34 PM

Thank you Andy for all you have done for churches;

Our small church is also having trouble. A new pastor, his first church with an engineer attitude. People have been leaving right and left. Our finances are down to about $12,000. and very little coming in our offerings. Running about $1,000 to $1,200 short each month to pay bills. We have thought about closing doors for a few months, making some changes and then reopeing under new name? How low should we let our finances go before taking some kind of action?

Thank you for your comments. My husband is Deacon Chair and we are tired from trying to do everything to save this church. We spend more time on our knees than our feet. Thanking Him for you.


Posted by: Pauline Earle, Treasurer | May 21, 2007 6:26:19 PM

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