Church Growth?

The Christian Chronicle is running a series of stories on the tepid growth of Churches of Christ since the beginning of the Reagan era.

Click here for the story.

The Chronicle is a great blessing to my life and ministry. They find a way to address challenging topics in ways that are respectful and honest toward all sides of issues. This in an of itself sets them apart in todays media.

I’d be curious to know your thoughts on this subject. To the left is a map of the U.S. The dark green states have experienced a decline in CofC membership since 1980. The olive-colored states have seen an increase. Texans shouldn’t get too excited…Jerusalem has experienced only 2% growth despite the general population growing 65.9% over the same time period. D.C., California, and (gasp) Tennessee are also areas of deep concern here. There are also some unlikely heroes in the mix–Nevada, Wisconsin, North/South Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Minnesota and Mississippi–though the numbers in these states make the gains somewhat less numerically significant. 

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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4 thoughts on “Church Growth?

  1. I like progress over growth, too. Garnett seems to be the exception vs. the rule. If one is not careful, one can label ineffective ministry as “progress,” and caricature megachurches, etc. Progress is better, though.

  2. I think a more accurate way of gauging our movement is to look at “progress” rather than growth. Take Garnett, for example. That church sure seems to be progressing toward something bigger and better, yet numerically they are on the decline. Same with my church. When I came, within the first year, membership declined by about a one third. They wouldn’t have any of this grace talk. But those who stuck it out have progressed in their faith and are on the road to bigger and better things.
    I’m not a big truster in numbers. They can be decieving and misleading. You can go out and guilt trip people into the baptistry, but you haven’t made a disciple. You can Joy Bus kids into your church, and that is a good thing, but that doesn’t really reflect any kingdom growth. I think a lot of that happened in the golden era of the 50’s where we were supposedly the fastest growing religous group in the nation. Not sure if that was warranted.
    My vote, let’s talk about progress and not growth per se.

  3. It is interesting how some churches grow and some don’t. I’d love nothing more than to see a growth revival in churches of Christ. But what it will take for such to occur is a movement of God that causes a time of serious reflection and a commitment to partnerships that pioneer some new frontiers.

  4. Studies like this one ought to give us a moment of pause. In less than 20 years, Andy Stanley and Ed Young have added almost as many people to their individual churches as we have across 50 states. This is not to say they have the only potential methods of success. But it does prevent us from simply blaming this on an increasingly secular culture. What they’re doing is working and what we’re doing isn’t. Are we willing to grow and learn from others?