• Churches in the southern part of the U.S. are more likely to grow – not only because of immigration, but because the population is more religious.
• Young congregations – those founded since 1992 – are more likely to grow.
• Young congregations – those with many younger members – are more likely to grow. (BTW, people 34 and younger are 48% of the US population but only 33% of US congregations. People 50 and older are 31% of the US population but 43% of congregations.)
• Growth is less likely in white, European-American congregations, more likely if the congregation is majority Latino, Asian, or Black.
• Congregations that use a language other than English in worship are more likely to grow than English-only worshippers. (I’m not sure Latin counts here.)
• Growth is much more likely among conservative Protestant denominations/groups and least likely among mainline Protestant denominations/groups, with Catholics in between (and benefitting from immigration).
• Surprisingly, both very conservative and very liberal congregations have higher growth rates. Moderate liberals are growing the least. Perhaps growth at the end points correlates with the finding that congregations with a clear sense of mission and identity are more likely to grow.
• More conflict within a congregation makes it less likely to grow, and vice versa.
Pray Tell readers will be interested in the data on worship:
• Worship described by participants as “joyful,” “innovative,” and “inspirational” is tied to congregational growth, as are “thought provoking” and “filled with a sense of God’s presence,” but less so. A sense of being “reverent” was not related to growth at all.
• Use of electric guitars and bass is strongly tied to growth.
• Use of drums and percussion, and visual projection, are associated with growth.
• Congregations involving children in worship are more likely to grow.
• Congregations that have “changed a lot” in their worship format in the last 5 years are more likely to grow.
• Having prayer and meditation groups is tied to increased attendance at worship.
See the Catholic News Service report here.