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.
Want More On Church Boards?
ECFA conducted a national study of church boards and released the findings in an illustrated free download titled Unleashing Your Church Board’s Potential: Comprehensive Report from ECFA’s National Survey of Church Boards, by Warren Bird, 46 pages. Please take a look, learn from it, discuss it, and let us know your thoughts about it. For additional materials on church boards, see the bottom half of my blog titled “What Are the Best Resources for Large Churches?” Finally, please do subscribe to this blog so that we can keep you current on future research findings.