Mar 242010

Churches are searching for pastors. Pastors are looking for churches. Making the connection can be quite challenging for many on both sides of the equation. Sure there’s a spiritual dimension to all of this– being a pastor is a “calling,” (whatever that might mean in a particular faith tradition) layered with much prayer for discernment and provision. Yet in the real-world concrete and tangible reality, there is that job component, when a church pastor is a paid religious professional.

There are a bunch of search engines / directories/ listings working to make this connection, for pastors looking for a ministry opportunity, and for churches looking for a pastor to fill a staff position, along with other church staff jobs. I’ll update this list as I find ‘em — (note: listing does not connote endorsement) ::

And, there are professional services that help make the connection for churches and staff. is run by Justin Lathrop (one of my pastor friends), who can put together a professional nationwide search for church staff positions. And, the executive search firm called Vanderbloemen Search Group facilitates ministry leadership search for larger churches. Another one is, a full-service consulting firm for church staffing.

Aside: this article, How to Work for a MegaChurch, gives sobering advice about working in a church setting. Set your idealism aside — “If you think working for a church will be peaceful and idyllic, you’re deluding yourself. Pastors and church staff members are as inherently flawed as the rest of the world. If your desire to work for a MegaChurch stems from the belief that you’ll be in a conflict free office environment, think again.

Jan 312010

Question >> “do u know a place to get stats on how many churches close a day, month, year etc and the same on pastors and leaders leaving ministry?”

djchuang >> Good question. (And, in case you can’t tell, this question came in via a text message.)

The latest research on church attendance can be found in The American Church in CrisisThe American Church in Crisis by David T. Olson, with research based on data from 200,000+ churches. And, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, has analysis based on interviews with 35,000+ American adults.

Here’s some other statistics I found (so far):

Excerpted from this Christian Century 2008 article, Church-closing rate only one percent:

A new study finds that only 1 percent of U.S. religious congregations go out of existence each year, “which is among the lowest mortality rates ever observed for any type of organization,” according to an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Dave Olson’s research shows that in the 1990s about 3,200 churches closed each year–or 1.1 percent of U.S. Christian congregations. And, Olson added, “In the 2000s, it has been 3,700 a year.” [cf. graph]

American church statistics have reported [via Goodmanson]:

  • In America, 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year
  • Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth
  • Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to nominalism and secularism

The 3,500-4,000 U.S. churches annual closure count is also cited by Ed Stetzer in “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.”

Excerpted from The Condition of the Church in America, complied by Andy McAdams [via #mmi, 2005]:

  • 1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly.
  • Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.
  • 10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period.

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.” [Source: “Death by Ministry" (slides + audio) by Darrin Patrick @ The Journey. It was re-published on Mark Driscoll's blog -- no longer available.]

One blog post attributed these findings to Shiloh Place Ministries (, which drew its information from Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 7,000 churches close each year in America.

[update] additional statistics & commentary about the challenges of pastoring noted by Ken Sande via desperatepastor

Sep 232009

In tonight’s class about multi-site churches, I mentioned a number of resources ::

Back story :: my pastor friend Ray Chang (Day 1 video) is in Taiwan on a vision trip with Ed Stetzer. Ray’s teaching a church planting couse at Talbot Seminary this semester. He graciously invited me to substitute-teach his class tonight for 3 hours. I didn’t think I could use that much time, and turns out, we did. Lively discussion ensued after I gave an overview of what a multi-site church is, 5 basic models, and examples of what it looks like. We explored why a church would use a multi-site strategy, how it could complement (or compete with) a church planting strategy, and ended the evening talking about internet campuses.

And, I see that there’s a new interview video of Ray Chang by Ed Stetzer about second generation Asian Americans and God’s global mission.

I hope the conversations can continue — add a comment below.

Dec 222008

Christmas celebrates the coming of Christ into the world. Jesus shows us what God is really like, and shows us what He wants for people. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

Jesus shows that being spiritual is being engaged in the real world. A real Christian faith is so much more than prayer, Bible reading, attending worship services. And, the Christmas story ought to bring peace and good will to all kinds of people.

Yet, only 7% of U.S. churches are racially diverse.[*]

Q: Why? What are the reasons for its being so low?

A: There are three things, and it depends on the group that we’re talking about, but there’s history, there’s culture, and then there’s social networks. [emphasis mine]

Social networks. The sociological factors that affect church life often go understated, often rationalized in theological constructs. Watch the entire interview from PBS Religion & Ethics:


[*] Religion and Ethics interview with Michael Emerson, author of People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States; researchers regard a “mixed” congregation as one with at least 20 percent of its members providing racial or ethnic diversity

Aside: for fans of The Office and/or those who can laugh at their own religions, watch the God, Inc. series over at YouTube; note the difference between “really Christian” and “sort of Christian”]

Jan 162008

Over at the L2 Foundation blog, I’ve posted my presentation (slides + audio) from last weekend, titled “How Churches are Reaching Asian Americans“, presented in Oakland/ East Bay area at the ISAAC Chinese Churches Consultation and at Bay Area Chinese Bible Church.

Much of this presentation is based upon the 9/26 presentation titled “Revitalizing Asian American Churches for New Generations” — with a broad overview of the opportunity for reaching Asian Americans nationwide, and 6 stories of next generation multi-Asian/ multi-ethnic churches around the country. It’s not just a west coast phenomena. I’ve given more thought about the common characteristics of these churches, and included it towards the end of my talk.

What I’m enjoying about these talks (I gave it 3 times last weekend) is the Q&A discussion time I set aside, about 35-45% of the time at the end. Each group brings out different questions, insights, and perspectives — several have turned into robust conversations.

Sep 292007

It was delightful to be interviewed by K. Connie Kang for the Los Angeles Times during the past week. Her work in the religion beat is most commendable for raising awareness of the social location within particular ethnic racial contexts. I talked with her by phone for 19 minutes last week, and then in person on Wednesday 9/26 at the occasional pastors luncheon known as “the Gathering.”

The article was published today, Saturday, September 29th, on page B2 of the California local news section (OC edition). The angle of this story was the challenges that 2nd generation pastors faced in doing ministry, aptly titled “Asian American pastors often minister across culture gap” and subtitled “Church leaders raised in the U.S. must navigate a difficult terrain of traditional hierarchies, generational differences and high expectations.”

Quotes that she used from me to close out the article:

In his survey of Asian American churches nationwide, Chuang found just 150 financially independent and autonomous English-speaking congregations out of about 7,000 predominantly Asian churches.

But he is hopeful about the future.

In the last decade, more than 100 English-speaking, Asian-led churches have started across the country, he said.

“The next generation of Asian Americans has the potential to take the best of both worlds — from the American culture that they are raised in and Asian heritage that they bring from their family,” he said. “If we can invest in them, we can do a lot of good for the world.”

LA Times on 2nd gen pastors

You can listen to my presentation and view slides given Wednesday 9/26 and see related resources. Please add a comment below with your reactions, comments, and/or questions. Let’s keep the conversation going!!