Thursday, July 31, 2008

Myths and facts about evangelism and church growth

The US congregational life survey has uncovered the following information about evangelism and church growth...

1. There are three strengths that will lead to growth. They are being a congregation that cares for Children and Youth, Welcomes New People, and where a majority of people participate in the congregation.
2. The following do not predict growth; denomination or faith group, congregational size, income levels of worshipers, average age of worshipers, and population growth around the church.
3. More than half of the fastest growing congregations were established before 1960.
4. Around 40% of small congregations are growing
5. 1/3 of worshippers are new to the congregation in the last five years, whilst 1/2 of worshippers are new in the fastest congregations.
6. Most new people are not new to the faith, but people transferring from another congregation of the same denomination (around 57%), returnees (around 18%), come from another denomination (around 18%)., with only 7% new to the faith
7. Of the new people 73% say the denomination was important in their search. However it is less important for people under the age of 25 (48%)
8. Many new people (47%) visit for the first time because someone invited them; only 6% came for the first time due to advertising.
9. Most new people will visit between 1 and 3 congregations before choosing their new home.
10. Advertising helps raise awareness of the congregation and can make current members feel proud of their congregation (and help them to talk to others about their congregation.)
11. People return to a congregation because of the quality of the sermon (36%), the friendliness of the people (32%), and the overall worship experience (30%).
12. Too many new people (38%) report no follow-up from the congregation after their first visit. In more traditional congregations 53% of new people report no follow-up.
13. Growing congregations use multiple methods to attract new people.
14. Growing congregations are more likely to hold events to meet new people or to add members, advertise in the newspaper or telephone book, use email, have a church Web site, and send materials to or telephone first-time visitors.
15. Growing congregations use multiple methods to integrate new worshipers.
16. Growing congregations are more likely to have a specific group for newcomers and to invite such people to take part in small groups or service opportunities.
17. New people are less involved in their congregations than those who have been there for longer.
18. Almost all worship services in growing Presbyterian churches (89%) include some traditional hymns.
19. Services in growing congregations are more likely to include contemporary music and laughter.
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