Dec 192011

What is the number of church websites in the United States? Yes it’s quite a herculean effort to count the exact number and I’m not sure there’s research money to pull off such a census. Plus the wide range of differing theological definitions for what is a church exacerbates any attempts to quantify them.

First, the big number, that is, how many churches in America. Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. Of those, about 300,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 22,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. And: According to the book Beyond Megachurch Myths, there were 320,000 Christian U.S. churches in 2007.

 Two surveys have an answer for how many churches have websites: 69% and 78%. Doing the math on the conservative side (because just having a website doesn’t mean the information is current), 69% of 300,000 is 207,000.

Here’s the numbers behind the numbers –

The FACT 2010 Report: A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000 – 2010 cited “… By 2010 over 90% of congregations used email; seven in ten had websites, and four in ten had Facebook pages…” // … the FACT 2010 national aggregated data set includes responses from 11,077 congregations, and over 120 denominations. … Sampling error for a survey such as FACT2010 can only be roughly estimated. We believe a conservative estimate is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level. … with responses from 14,301 congregations it remains the largest national survey of congregations ever conducted in the U.S.

LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media cited “… survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78 percent have a website …” // Their methodology: LifeWay Research conducted a phone survey among a stratified, random sample of Protestant churches Sept. 8-20, 2010, interviewing 1,003 staff members most responsible for making decisions about the technology used in their church. Responses were weighted to reflect the natural size distribution of churches. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed ±3.2 percent.

Jun 272011

As the Census 2010 numbers are being crunched, our growing population makes for all the more opportunities for serving real needs of real people. And for the 17.3 million Asian Americans, who are comparatively the most educated and the most wealthy, that means a ton of raw potential for doing good and making a difference for multicultural American society and for a multinational global village.

I shared this short presentation with the AFC CMC 2013 planning committee. [tech note: I'm loving the new iPad app Bamboo Paper, free 'til 6/30]

CMC 2011 (Chinese Mission Convention 2011 West Coast) challenges Chinese and Asian Americans to fulfilling the Great Commission aka world evangelization, or as I prefer saying, being missional everywhere. This December 27-39 2011 in San Diego is CMC 2011, where the very popular Christian author Francis Chan is the main plenary speaker. Francis is now blogging at and with wife just had 5th child! Congratulations Father Francis!

References mentioned in presentation:

Additional resources:

Feb 172011

Who are the churches that are good examples of using Facebook and social media well?

[update] I’ve updated this list over at, a dashboard of top churches on Facebook with the most likes updated in real-time; cf. the November 2012 list of top church & ministry Facebook pages

church-search Before we dive in, there are different metrics for success and there are different ways of using social media, so it would seem to me to be unfair to make a list with scores or rankings. In other words, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all of how a church should use social media or Facebook.

Social media / Facebook can be used for much more than marketing and broadcasting. Social media gives voice to every person. Social media can give an inside look at the life of a church. The voice of the people, who are the church, can be seen and heard by anyone online, and that can be a far more powerful witness than an organizational one.

Here’s a pseudo-random sampling of churches with big numbers of people who like their Facebook Pages ::

Church Name Facebook Page # Likes
Hillsong Church (London) 70,556
Bethel Church, Redding 49,559 41,595
Mars Hill Church (Seattle) 31,444
Hillsong Church (Sydney) 26,021
Lakewood Church 18,852
City Harvest Church (Singapore) 13,945
Fellowship Church 13,398
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (Nigeria) 13,115
The Village Church 12,712
NewSpring Church 12,284
Saddleback Church 10,680
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church 10,623
Gateway Church (Southlake) 9,679
Jakarta Praise Community Church (Indonesia) 9,647
Willow Creek Community Church 9,526
Church of the Highlands 8,166
Christ’s Church of the Valley 8,360
Healing Place Church 6,847
St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church 6,764
Cathedral of Praise (Manila) 6,614
New Life Church 6,607
Northland, A Church Distributed 6,252

powered by Easy Table Creator from PolyVision Interactive Whiteboards

Tech notes: The numbers were retrieved around the time of this writing. Ministries are excluded. These churches were found via leaderboard and Facebook Search and Advanced Search app. These churches were manually found by hand aka “brute-force” so they’re not computationally accurate for a leaderboard. Many of these church’s Facebook pages were actually hard to find. You’d think with the millions on Facebook that there’d be a smarter search engine.

Aside: While these churches are amassing large numbers of likes on their Facebook pages, this might be more of an indicator of church size or mass-appeal popularity, and not necessarily how much social media engagement is happening within that church community nor how much platform & exposure is given to the voices in its church community.

Aside #2: somewhat related: there’s the Church of Facebook book + churches featured for being on Facebook + a list of online churches with internet campuses + a recent Lifeway Research study stating 47% of churches actively use Facebook

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