Much has been written about megachurches—those that consistently draw 2,000 or more adults and children each week. In fact, my last blog in this series (see here) highlighted some of the “health” trends among the country’s roughly 1,750 megachurches. They represent roughly 5 million people each week.
But another group of churches draws an even more sizable crowd. Some 15-20 million people attend churches in the 500-1,999 range—the mid-size churches. If we profiled them, what would we learn?
Good news: I helped create a profile in 2015 (see the full report here), and ECFA has joined an effort to create an updated profile for 2020.
The back story to this research is how the largest-scale national study of U.S. churches occurs every 5 years (2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and now 2020). It covers churches from 5 people to over 50,000 in weekly worship. It was my privilege in 2010 and 2015 to be involved with the large church (500-1999) and megachurch (2000-up) portions of the research – and for the 2020 version, ECFA will be joining as a research partner.
Here are highlights from our earlier study of the growth, vitality and leadership of churches in the 500-1,999 attendance range:
• Just over two thirds of the weekly attenders are under age 50.
• Over a third of the congregations are multiracial.
• At least three-quarters report the use of small groups as central to their spiritual formation strategy.
• Nearly 7 out of 10 churches are currently led by the senior pastor under whose tenure the most dramatic growth occurred.
• Nearly 7 out of 10 offer a formal internship program.
• Half of these churches were founded since 1964.
• Far more (67%) are growing than declining.
• Multisite churches are growing at a far faster rate than single-site churches.
• Largest worship seating capacity for churches in this size range is 750 (median).
• Nearly every church (99%) had multiple weekend worship services with roughly half (49%) saying these services varied by style or type.
Are those and other trends changing? With your help, we’re going to find out! Then we’d like to share the findings with you.
For the 2020 version, which ECFA is co-sponsoring, we’re eager to get YOUR input. If your church has attendance of 500-1999 (one track) or 2000-and-higher (another track) please go to this link, which will take you to the appropriate version. To thank you for your valuable time and trust in this highly confidential study, we’re offering these incentives to each participant:
• Free illustrated report with the findings (tallies and trends only, no individual churches are named)
• Either of the following ECFA books free, mailed to you post-paid:
- Lessons from the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, 248 pages.
- Unleashing Your Church Board’s Potential: Comprehensive Report from ECFA’s National Survey of Church Boards, by Warren Bird, 46 pages
• Several free downloadable reports, such as the latest research in online church
Our report will be widely cited in the media, and we’d love YOUR input in the state of larger churches today, in order to give an accurate presentation of all the wonderful things God is doing through churches today!
Want to know if your church has already participated since we launched it 1/23/2020? Write me (email@example.com) and include your church’s primary zip code. I’ll promptly let you know. Thanks!