10 True-false Statements on the State of Churches and Denominations In America

This week we will have a major announcement about Church Answers taking a bigger step into the world of Christian and church research. Stay tuned for it.

In the meantime, let’s look at ten statements connected with current research on Christianity, churches, and denominations. Before you look at the answers, see how many you get correctly.

1. American non-denominational churches combined are larger than all mainline denominations combined.

2. The biggest contributor to church attendance decline can best be explained by the number of people who have joined the “Nones” (those who say they have no religious preference).

3. The median average worship attendance of churches in America is 90.

4. Over 20 percent of the regular participants in a church in the United States are under the age of 18.

5. Over 5,000 congregations left the United Methodist denomination in 2023 alone.

6. Over two-thirds of the active participants in churches are female.

7. Since the late 1980s to today, two denominations have grown, the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterian Church of America.

8. The decline in the Southern Baptist Convention in terms of numbers of members is the largest in the history of denominations in America.

9. Nearly seven of ten active church members live within 15 minutes of their church.

10. The median tenure of a solo/lead/senior pastor In America is just over three years.

While you may have been tempted to look at the answers below, I wonder how many you got right if you did not peek. Here are the answers:

1. True. Non-denominational church members account for 13% of American adults, more than all mainline denominations combined. (Ryan Burge: graphsaboutreligion.com)

2. False. For certain, the Nones have grown in number significantly. Depending on your research source, they account for about 30% of people in America. That’s a big number! While some church participants have moved into the None category (no religious preference), the greatest decline comes from the decreasing attendance frequency of church members. (ChurchAnswers.com, Ryan Burge: graphsaboutreligion.com)

3. False. The median average worship attendance is 65. (faithcommunitiestoday.org, the FACT 2020 Study)

4. True. 22.7% of church participants are under the age of 18. (faithcommunitiestoday.org, the FACT 2020 Study)

5. True. 5,643 congregations left the United Methodist Church in 2023 alone. (umnews.org)

6. False. But females do account for a majority (56%) of active participants in churches. (faithcommunitiestoday.org, the FACT 2020 Study)

7. True. But the Assemblies of God growth rate continues to decrease. It is near zero today. The Presbyterian Church of America has grown, but it remains a relatively small denomination with fewer than 400,000 members. (Ryan Burge: graphsaboutreligion.com)

8. True. The Southern Baptist Convention lost 1.32 million members in just three years (2020 to 2022), more than any denomination in history for such a short period. However, with over 5,600 disaffiliations in 2023 alone, the United Methodist Church will also have a dramatic decline in membership. (Ryan Burge: graphsaboutreligion.com, umnews.org)

9. True. 68% of church members live within 15 minutes of their congregations location. (faithcommunitiestoday.org, the FACT 2020 Study)

10. False. The median tenure is 7 years. (faithcommunitiestoday.org, the FACT 2020 Study)

I would love to hear your perspectives on these data points. Did any of the ten statements surprise you? What do these numbers tell you about the state of churches and Christianity in America today?

Let me hear from you.