A Field Guide to U.S. CongregationsAccording to A Field Guide to U. S. Congregations: Who’s Going Where and Why, here are some interesting statistics on churches:

  • Number of people associated in any way with the median congregation:  200
  • Number who regularly participate in the median congregation:  110
  • Number 18 or older who participate regularly:  80
  • Average attendance at worship:  90

That actually sounds like my church.  Which means we are the median for all congregations — half are smaller, half are larger.  But here are some things that really surprised me:

  • In the US population, 48% of adults are single, but only 34% of worshippers are single.  Guess who the other 66% of worshippers are?  Marrieds, although marrieds only make up 52% of the US population.  In other words, we have a big single adult gap. 
  • 15-24 year-olds are 18% of the population, but only 10% of the worshippers.  We’re missing almost half of all the older teens and younger adults.
  • 25-44 year-olds are 38% of the population, but only 30% of the worshippers. Although the ratio improves some as adults get older, We are not reaching a quarter of this age group either.

But here’s the real kicker — of the folks who are attending church, only 38% are experiencing spiritual growth through their church.  The question then is obvious — “How much longer will the other 62% continue to attend if they experience no spiritual growth?”

The book is based on the results of The International Congregational Life Survey initiated in 1999, and represents over 12,000 congregations totaling over 1.2 million worshippers.  It’s full of interesting statistics and insights about who’s attending church, myths we believe about congregations that don’t hold water, and attitudes about the future of the church. 

The really good news — 84% of worshippers “see their minister…as a good match for the congregation.”   There is hope!