Church-related statistics

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Here are excerpts of interest from the December 2014 issue of ChurchPulse:

  • Millennials Hold High View of Scripture. 96% believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life. 96% also claim the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God. 46% say “the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word,” and an additional 39% agree it is divinely inspired and has no errors, though “some verses are meant to be symbolic rather than literal.” 11% say the Bible is the inspired word of God “but has some factual or historical errors.” 71% of practicing Christian Millennials believe in absolute moral truth, and 39% cite the Bible as the main source from which they have learned or discovered absolute moral truths and standards. They rank Bible-reading as more important than church attendance (55% say Bible-reading is more important), silence/solitude (50%), prayer (49%), worship (51%), acts of service (48%), communion (44%) and evangelism (42%). (Barna Millennials 10/23/14)
  • Traits of Long-Term Pastorates. The median tenure of a pastor at a church is around 4 years. This means more than half of pastors leave a church before their 4th anniversary. LifeWay Research shows that the time of greatest fruit in a pastor’s ministry does not begin until somewhere around years 5 to 7. Here are traits of longer term pastors: 1) They pray daily for their church members and staff. 2) They view their family as their first line of ministry. 3) They connect with and love people in their community. 4) They choose their battles carefully and wisely. 5) They welcome structures that make them accountable. 6) They spend time developing staff. 7) They expect conflict and criticism. 8) They connect with other pastors and ministries in the community. 9) They affirm both theology and practical ministry. 10) They ask long-term questions. (Tom Rainer, ChurchLeaders 10/22/14)
  • Theological Uncertainty. A new LifeWay Research study for Ligonier Ministries reveals a significant level of theological confusion. Many evangelicals do not have orthodox views about either God or humans, especially on questions of salvation and the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals scored high on several points: 95% believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and 92% hold that salvation is found through Jesus alone. 89% say God is sovereign over all people and 88% that the Bible is the Word of God. Only 6% of evangelicals think the Book of Mormon is a revelation from God, but 18% aren’t sure. 96% of all evangelicals believe in the Trinity and 88% that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. 51% said the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being; 7% weren’t sure, while 42% affirmed the Spirit is a person. (CT Online 10/28/14)
  • Sharing the Faith 1 on 1. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 20% of U.S. adults reported sharing their religious faith on social networking websites or apps in the past week, while 40% shared their faith in a real-life setting. 59% of white evangelicals report sharing their religious beliefs offline vs. 1% of people who are “unaffiliated” and 34% of white mainline Protestants. (Huffington Post 11/14/14)
  • Declining Belief in God. Tom W. Smith has combined various surveys to show that, in the 1950s, 99% of Americans said they believed in God, and that number has dropped, slowly but steadily, to 92% in ‛08. This is a small decline that is stretched out over 5 decades, and after 5 decades of change nearly everyone still says they believe in God or a higher power. Still, change has occurred. It has occurred so slowly that it is difficult to see over even a 2 decade span, but combining multiple surveys over a longer period of time shows real decline. (The Decline of American Religion? Mark Chaves, 2011, ARDA Guiding Paper Series)
  • Post-Christian Americans. Nearly 40% of America’s adult population could be considered post-church with young adults being the most disinterested in faith, finds a recent Barna Group study. 48% of Millennials (ages 18 to 28) qualify as post-Christian, meaning they do not participate in activities such as believing in God, attending church or reading the Bible; 40% of Gen-Xers between ages 30–40 qualify as post-Christian. Additionally, nearly 25% of all unchurched adults have never experienced regular church attendance. (Christian Post 10/21/14)
  • Unchurched Americans. A new Barna Group study reveals unchurched Americans are the most resistant to outreach efforts by the church and friends than they’ve been in 20 years. Today, 47% of U.S. adults who do not attend church said they were open to being invited to church by a friend vs. 65% in 1993. Yet, personal invitations from friends are still the most effective way to draw church visitors compared to other outreaches. 27% of unchurched adults would be open to visiting a church if invited through a pastoral visit vs. 34% 20 years ago. 24% would consider visiting if they received a phone call from a church. (Christian Post 10/21/14)

ChurchPulse is a publication of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (EFCA). To read the whole December issue, go to http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=1e36026eade3dfd2f66499153&id=50fe6699ea&e=2f2821a1b1.

One thought on “Church-related statistics”

  1. The stats listed under “Theological Uncertainty” are hard to believe — especially that only 42% of Evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit is a person or personal being. But if that is true, then we have to acknowledge two important things: 1)there is a great need in the church to teach the correct understanding of the Trinity and 2)we mustn’t be condemning towards people who have difficulty understanding the Person of the Holy Spirit, since we can see this is a common problem and must therefore be easy to misunderstand.

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