16 Trends in American Churches in 2016 (Part 2)

9. The rise of the mini-denomination church. 10. Increased pastoral tenure. 11. Rise of alternative ministry placement organizations. 12. Increase in the number of Millennials who are Christians.  More…

13. Accelerated decline of 100,000 American congregations. 14. Churches no longer viewed favorably by many governmental units. 15. More bivocational pastors and staff. 16. Dramatic changes in senior adult ministries.  16 Trends

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Larry Nelson's picture


"In many ways, I see 2016 as a pivotal year for thousands of congregations. Unfortunately, many church leaders and church members will elect not to change anything. Those congregations will be among the 100,000 rapidly declining churches.

But for other churches, new opportunities abound. For decades, churches could choose a path of modest to no change and do okay. That is not the case today. For those congregations that are eager and willing to face the culture in God's power and strength, they will likely see incredible opportunities for ministry and growth.

It is becoming that simple.

Change or die."


Larry Nelson's picture


Do you know of any? 


Near my church I can think of three other churches (one IFB, two evangelical) that have seen precipitous declines in attendance, either short or long term.

One church, on its website, says that its record attendance (several years ago) was 1,520.  Lately, its attendance figure is typically 350.  Their decline has been gradual, but yet unrelenting.

Another had its pastor abruptly leave a year ago under dubious circumstances (apparently related to financial impropriety).  They have had some other serious missteps too. Their attendance has dropped from about 1,600 to about half of that.

The third not long ago had around 1,000 in attendance; currently they have 400-500.  I'm not exactly sure what all has happened, but they seem to have a revolving door in terms of pastoral tenure lately. 


My church has seen "refugees" from each of these churches join us in the past couple of years.  I know that some other area churches have likewise seen an influx of folks from these same three churches.


Ron Bean's picture

If one looks at the big picture it would appear that churches have changed. The church of 2015 does not resemble the church of 1915 which didn't look like the church of 1815 and so on. 

I see some churches that are hanging white-knuckled on to the church of the 1950's and  are paying the price for "standing where we've always stood". 

There are gradual changes occurring as some are using more hymns and less Gospel songs in their worship services. Some people in the pews have been exposed to good expositional preaching and want to hear it in their own churches. 

Some churches are recognizing the need for the church to be more than ONLY a place where people go to sing hymns and hear someone preach or teach and are discovering the benefits of personal discipleship and building relationships with our brethren outside of the church building.

The fact is that we often resist change of any sort; perhaps because it makes us uncomfortable.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Larry Nelson's picture


Ron Bean wrote:

I see some churches that are hanging white-knuckled on to the church of the 1950's and are paying the price for "standing where we've always stood". 


I'm becoming more & more convinced that a primary reason that churches falter is intransigence.  The methods of the church are frequently conflated with the mission of the church.  To some, style has become indistinguishable from substance.