Friday, January 25, 2008

Some more pertinent statistics

According to Flavil Yeakley, who presented this material at FHU recently, one can say these things about churches of Christ:

  • 12th largest religious group in America
  • 6th fastest growing church in America
  • 4th in the nation in the total number of congregations
  • 5th in the nation in number of counties in which there is a congregation
  • 1st in the nation in distribution of congregations
  • 1st in the nation in weekly attendance
According to a survey by Barna about five years ago, churches of Christ were first in donations among religious groups (for our size).

When you consider that we lost only 69 churches (2000-2006) and yet are 4th in the number of congregations throughout the US is rather remarkable.

The call for changing doctrine or die is premature...



TE said...

Brother Phil

I am afraid this statistical information would suffer greatly if it did not include many of the churches which are already leaning to a more progressive stance on many issues. The fact is that change is already occuring at a rapid rate in many places and I believe that change is part of what makes the stats look as good as they do. Now I am not for abandoning the Bible or the core principles of Jesus but these stats actually would show that SOME changes are good for our future growth. Not only good but necessary. We can no longer be a 1950's church stuck in a 21st century world and be relevant to lost people. And we can no longer expect people to blindly line up with our traditions just because we say they are right. We need to let people study and think for themselves and trust the Lord to take us where He wants us. After all, the church is His. He is in control of it not us and we need to quit trying to control it and let Him do that. Just because we have never done something a certain way before does not make it wrong or even suspect, does it? If we seek to speak where the Bible speaks then why do we do so much speaking where it does not speak? Not trying to be argumentative, just asking questions that I feel must be asked if we are to continue to be a part of what God is doing in this world.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear TE,

Before you rush to judgment, you might do well to hear the rest of the story. The middle-of-the-road churches (like where I preach) were doing the best job of keeping their young people, while the progressives were the worst among us at losing their young people.

Whoever said I wanted the church of the 1950s? That is your assumption , TE. I preach out of the NASB and ESV, neither of which come from the 1950s.

We use internet where I am (1.6 million hits in the last year). We have a media projector. We even broadcast on television.

I am not convinced the compromisers among us have the answers. I will be showing more details of these findings in coming weeks. You are going to find that the progressives are not all they boast.


Phil Sanders said...

TE said,
We need people who study and think for themselves. I wonder if you mean that only people who agree with you are capable of thinking for themselves. That is rather arrogant.

I've been thinking for myself for a long time, thank you very much.


Kent said...


Thanks for the statistics. While we are in different places doctrinally it is good to put our heads together to try and figure out some of these trends. And it's not only good but it's kind of fun to think about these things. These new stats don't surprise me except for your note on Churches of Christ being first in weekly giving. That surprises me. It seems that other groups like the Baptists place more of an emphasis on this than we do, though it is certainly important.


Phil Sanders said...

in looking at a number of spiritual activities among churches, Barna found that churches of Christ showed a higher percentage of givers among its members than any religious group surveyed.


TE said...

Dear Phil,

Friend, my post was in no way intended as an attack or a judgement on you though you seem to have taken it that way.

I am anxious to see the data you refer to. I can see where it could be true that middle-of-the-road congregations are keeping their young people more than progressive ones if the general emphasis of progressives is on cheap grace and permissiveness. I assure you I am not an advocate of those things.

I did not say YOU wanted us to be a 1950s church. I don't even know you. But I do know many people in Churches of Christ that DO seem to want that. Surely you have met some of them as well. And as far as the internet and other technologies are concerned, I expect you are way ahead of me in that way as I am probably older than you.

You quoted me as saying, "We need people who study and think for themselves." and then you said, "I wonder if you mean that only people who agree with you are capable of thinking for themselves. That is rather arrogant."

What I actually SAID was "We need to let people study and think for themselves and trust the Lord to take us where He wants us." Once again, my comments were not meant to be an attack on you nor was I being arrogant. The thrust of what I am saying is this: For centuries in the Catholic Church, religious people were discouraged from personal study and were encouraged to just accept what their church leaders told them. While this produces a kind of unity, it is rather shallow and meaningless in terms of personal faith. We dare not follow this model. AND, when people study for themselves and come to some conclusions different from ours, well that is really not my problem, it is God's church and He is very able to sort all that out. Efforts to control what conclusions honest studying people come to by anyone, be it you, me, or anyone else seems to be the wrong approach. God can take His church the direction He wants it to go.

I am sorry I offended you, that was not my intention. My post was in no way an attack on you. We do indeed have our differences but we should be able to discuss things lovingly and hopefully all who read this blog will benefit from such discussions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog and article. I understand the discouragement of many preachers, and like you, I have committed myself to much more prayer and Bible study.
Thanks for all you do
Tommy Tidwell
South Cobb Church of Christ

Phil Sanders said...

the problem with anonymous and barely signed posts such as yours is that neither of us knows where the other is coming from or if there is an agenda.

In times past I have had posts that were full of bias, making old and bad arguments that were misleading.

Please accept my apology if I reacted too quickly. I was the object of an attack last summer by several progressives. Sometimes I get a little fast on the trigger. Sorry I misjudged you.


TE said...

No problem is often hard to discern what a person really means when all you have is a written dialogue with the absence of non-verbal communication and the nuances of contextual perspective. I have probably misjudged you or at least over-judged your motivations in unfair ways as I have read your posts at times in the past. All of us are individuals and in reality none of us can be fit exactly into a particular mold. And while it is true that you and I would have some disagreements regarding some particular issues, I believe we both are trying our best to do what we think is right and helpful in bringing others to Jesus. Thank you for your gracious response, and may the Lord bless your work.