How American Congregations are changing (and staying the same)

Comparing data between 1998 and 2006/7, how are American churches changing?

  1. They are using more technology – email, the web, blogs,  facebook, twitter, etc. to communicate with members. Implications: more members commute from further, therefore more congregations are becoming more theologically homogeneous. What are churches cutting back on to pay for the technology?
  2. Worship services are more informal.
  3. Senior pastors are getting older – “the average age of the American adults has increased by 1 year, but the average age of pastors has increased by 5 years!”
  4. Age –  Church population (by percentage) is increasing faster than the general population.

What is staying the same:

  1. the median size of congregations (about 75 people),
  2. the high number of women in the pews,
  3. the low number of women in the pulpit, and
  4. involvement in social services.

– Brad Wright (making sociology accessible) in How American Congregations are Changing (and Staying the Same)

From Sociologist Mark Chave’s National Congregations Study.
Chaves, Mark, and Shawna Anderson, “Continuity and Change in American Congregations: Introducing the Second Wave of the National Congregations Study.” Sociology of Religion, vol. 69 (Winter 2008), 415-440. ( LINK )

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