Small churches in America face "many challenges"

Small churches in America face "many challenges"

Charisma Online News Service

May 8, 2002

Small churches in America face "many challenges," including fewer men in the pews, once-a-week gatherings and few newcomers at services. Those are some of the findings of a study that interviewed 300,000 worshipers in 2,200 congregations of all faiths in the 50 states, "The Washington Times" reported.

Released this week, the Congregational Life Survey found that half of all small congregations add up to just 11 percent of all worshipers. "This is probably the most profound reality facing congregations today," the report said. "Most congregations are small." In contrast, large congregations are just 10 percent of all the 300,000 houses of worship nationwide, but draw half of all worshipers.

The study also discovered that small congregations face further declines in funding, supply of clergy and religious education, the "Times" reported. The report found that men comprise just 39 percent of the congregations, 56 percent of all parishioners attend only one service weekly and just 46 percent of worshipers had invited another person in the last 12 months. "Most...are not involved in small groups," the study said.

A related project, "Pulpit and Pew," which surveyed clergy related to the representative congregation sample, discovered that only 45 percent of Americans identify as members of a denomination, and that as little as 20 percent of the population worships on a given weekend.

(c) Copyright 2000 Strang Communications, All Rights Reserved.

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