Saturday, January 06, 2007

What churches grow? :: ENS

Episcopal News Service:
A plan to recruit and incorporate newcomers, clarity of mission and ministry, contemporary worship, involvement of children in worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.

The survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP), found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth.
. . .
Among the information gathered about Episcopalians are these findings:
- Episcopal congregations are varied in their theological outlook. Relatively few (only 8%), however, say that the majority of their members are predominantly liberal.
- Conservative Episcopal congregations were much more likely to have experienced very serious conflict during the last five years than moderate or liberal congregations (a similar, but weaker relationship was also discovered in the FACT 2000 study).
- Predominantly liberal and somewhat liberal congregations are somewhat more likely to have experienced growth during the last five years than more conservative congregations.
- Responses to: "is like a close knit family," "celebrates its Episcopal heritage," and "desires growth in attendance and membership" were unrelated to growth.
- More than half of Episcopal parishes and missions (60%) offer two or more services on the weekend. Worship style varies to some degree among services in three quarters of the congregations that report more than one weekend service.
- Only 15% of congregations report that their primary worship service has changed a lot in format or style during the last five years. Most congregations report that worship has either changed a little (31%) or changed moderately (30%).
. . .
Among the other findings in the new FACTs on Growth report:
- Congregations that change worship format and style are more likely to grow. More than half the congregations that use contemporary styles of worship have experienced substantial growth since 2000. Frequency is important as well: The more worship services a congregation holds, the more likely it is to have grown. Over half of the congregations that use drums and or electric guitars often or always in their worship services have experienced "substantial growth" from 2000 to 2005, the report says. "The relationship is fairly strong in the overall set of congregations, but considerably stronger among evangelical churches and weakest among mainline churches," according to the report. . . .

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