To my readers,
I really weary of progressive posters who think that all of us in the middle-of-the-road preach for dying and shrinking churches. It is absurd and false to think that all the growth among us has been among the progressives. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I spoke earlier of two church plantings nearby. Both happened among the mainstream, neither among the progressive. Both are growing well, and we thank God for them (Heritage in Franklin and Spring Meadows in Spring Hill). At the same time I have seen nearby progressive churches lose large numbers of members.
According to Yeakley, the more progressive the church, the more likely they are to lose their teens. I am not really surprised. Once you start down the road of compromise and self-made religion, it is hard to keep your kids from going one step further than you have gone. What I do weary of is the constant harping by progressives that mainliners won't keep their children. The fact is the ones who keep their kids best are the middle-of-the-road churches.
What was also important is that the attendance to membership ratio and the giving to member ratio were so outstanding among members of the church. To assume this is only progressive churches goes against the grain and my experience. Why is it that progressive publications can hardly stay in print, while the mainstream and conservative ones last on and on?
Forgive me for a shameless plug but Think magazine, now in its third year is booming! It is the first publication among churches of Christ to enter into the larger religious market. It is a high-quality and well-designed periodical. You can find out more about it at www.focuspress.org. Yes, I have a column there. Whatever happened to Image or Mission magazine?
Now the stats showed that in America we gain 4,000 congregations yearly and lose 7,000. A net loss of 3,000. I understand there are about 350,000 churches of all kinds in the USA. If the net loss of American congregations from 2000 to 2006 was 18,000, I maintain the loss of only 69 congregations among the 12th largest religious group and the fourth most congregations is not all that bad. One must also wonder how many of those losses were not losses but mergers.
Well, it will be interesting to see what else we learn from these studies.