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 (shilohplace.org), 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

Dec 102005

Speculations have surfaced that some churches are combating the nominal C&E (Christmas & Easter) Christians by keeping their doors closed on Christmas this year, to goad these nominal Christians to either attend more regularly or don’t come at all.

I had first picked up on this breaking story via the CT Weblog, as it made its circuit over mainstream news media (with lots of help from the AP wire), and then yesterday landing on the front page of the New York Times: When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off (cf. more at Google News search). According to Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in greater Atlanta, his church had been closed on the Sunday after Christmas since it started, but it seems only this year that it has generated buzz [cf. a most lengthy commentary by InternetMonk; and lengthy comment thread at GetReligion].

I’ll not track down all the articles and blogs buzzing about this. We all love snow days, students and teachers alike. Just as we have school closings for snow here in the metro DC area, here’s the unofficial list of church closings on Christmas:

Church Closings for December 25th, 2005 (no links, b/c they’re closed after 100s of celebrations)

Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL)
Southland Christian Church (Nicholasville, KY)
Crossroads Christian Church (Lexington, KY)
Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX)
Watermark Community Church (Dallas, TX)
Redemption World Outreach Center (Greenville, SC)
Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC and other locations)
North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA)
First Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)
Mars Hill Bible Church (Grandville, MI)
Grace Fellowship Church (Timonium, MD)
Church of the Redeemer (Gaithersburg, MD) (changed)
Northview Christian Life Church (Carmel, IN)
Grace Community Church (Noblesville, IN)
Calvary Chapel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) (changed)
Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Flamingo Road Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Christ the Rock Community Church (Cooper City, FL)
RockHarbor (Costa Mesa, CA)
Harbor Christian Center (Gig Harbor, WA)
Northland, A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL)
Kensington Community Church (Troy, MI)
Calvary Christian Center (Louisville, KY)
Ambassador Bible Church (Centreville, VA)
All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, DC)
Lord of Life Church (Indiana, PA)
Skyline Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA) (changed)
Bridgeway Community Church (Columbia, MD)
Grace Community Church (Columbia, MD)
History Church (Oak Hill, VA)
National Community Church (Washington, DC)
Reston Bible Church (Reston, VA)
Mosaic Manhattan (New York City, NY)
The River Church (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Journey’s Crossing (Gaithersburg, MD)
Discovery Christian Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
Watermarke Church (Canton, GA)
Liquid (Austin, TX)
St. Paul’s Collegiate Church at Storrs (Storrs, CT)
NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC)
LifeChurch (locations in OK and AZ)
Neighborhood Church (Redding, CA)
Center Point Church (North Richland Hills, TX)
Ethnos (San Diego, CA)
Revolution Church (Long Beach, CA)
Mariners’ Church (Annapolis, MD)

I love going to all kinds of churches. Our family tradition for Christmas and Easter is not to stay home, but to attend as many churches as possible. So for people in the church-forsaken places like Chicagoland, Dallas, and Atlanta, here are some churches open for Christmas [recommend a church for thousands who are without - add a comment below]:

New Community Covenant Church (Chicago, IL)
Grace Outreach Center (Plano, TX)
Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX)
Park Cities Presbyterian Church (Dallas, TX)
Lifepoint Community Church (Greenville, SC)
Mount Paran Church of God (Atlanta, GA)
Crossroads Church of Atlanta
Perimeter Church (Atlanta, GA)
Resurrection Life Church (Grandville, MI)
Gaithersburg Community Church (Gaithersburg, MD)
McLean Bible Church (McLean, VA)
Providence Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC)
Young Nak English Ministry (Los Angeles, CA)
Cedar Ridge Community Church (Spencerville, MD)
Barstow Free Methodist Church (Barstow, CA)
Faith Community Church (West Covina, CA)
ChurchReviews.org listings (for Louisville; Chicago)
Barrington Houses of Worship
my index of online church directories and search engines

* Note: neither listing above is disapproval nor endorsement – simply public information; also listen to NPR’s All Things Considered piece on this [aired on 12/14/05]