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Updated on January 27, 2013
An insight into the alarming decline of church attendance
An insight into the alarming decline of church attendance

An insight into the alarming decline in church attendance and revenues

Statistics and data can either scare you to the point of hiding your head in the sand and waiting for the next brick to fall or motivate you to take Active Faith Action to fulfill your respective missions.

Case in point…..Church attendance is declining in America at an alarming rate! A Gallup poll conducted in March of 2012, found only 40% of ALL Americans listed themselves as religious with Mississippi being the most religious at 59%, while New York and Rhode Island tied for least religious at 32%; Indiana was identified as “very religious” at 45%.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Vanderburgh County’s current population is 180,305. Using these statistics, 81,137 Vanderburgh County residents consider themselves to be religious; 99,168 do not. “One-Third or 27,046 people, who consider themselves religious, do not regularly attend a worship service,” states John Shook, Ph.D., Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Inquiry, in his article Church-Goers Now A Minority in America. translates to a mere 54,091 people (or an average 135 people per church) who regularly attend services in Vanderburgh County.

So, what’s the deal? Why the decline? Most importantly, what can be done?

Congregational growth and addressing decreased revenues are among the two top issues facing church leaders today. Although individual giving, traditionally has surpassed other charitable giving methods and statistically is still listed as such, reality speaks volumes….and quite frankly, statistics do not pay the electric bill.

Today’s, teeter-totter, economy has drastically affected individual giving patterns. Although, the economy shows signs of recovery, many people continue to struggle financially. Some are struggling as a lingering result of the turbulent past economic downturn, others are experiencing lay-offs, which seem to be on the rise again and many individuals, who have managed to secure employment, are now among those listed as “underemployed.”

It is imperative to recognize that 10% of 0 is 0. As more and more Americans find themselves working two, and in many cases, three jobs, individual donations and volunteer efforts have a tendency to decrease. Therefore, the question remains, as a church, do you sit around and wait for the next brick to fall or pursue Active Faith Action by taking a hard look at what is working and most importantly what isn’t?

1. Identify strengths, weaknesses and goals.

2. Outline all of the specifics that apply to services, operating expenses, activities, outreach, and in-reach programs.

3. Define details of each of the above (number of services, average attendance, responses, participation) and associated outgoing expenses.

4. List funding revenue methods utilized: Individual donations, distinctive campaigns, fundraisers, grants and direct mail pleas. Once revenue methods have been categorized, look for ways to incorporate funding resource methods not currently in place.

5. Review the organizations current approach for attracting visitors and be willing to revise if results are not achieved.

By applying and incorporating a variety of funding resource methods while increasing overall outreach programs that benefit the community; you should see an increase in attendance growth, as well as, revenues.


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