Pastors Remain Optimistic About Church Growth

Pastors are eager to reach the next generation for Christ as well as growing the size, diversity and level of discipleship within their congregations, according to a new survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors by Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The 2019 Future of the Church Study by Facts & Trends and LifeWay Research is based on a survey of Protestant pastors, examining their views on the future of their congregations. Results of the study are explored in the Winter 2019 issue of Facts & Trends available at FactsAndTrends.net/FutureChurch.

Looking toward to the future, many pastors anticipate numerical growth of their congregations, increased ethnic diversity, more leadership roles for women and robust community engagement by church members.

The survey found 79 percent of pastors say weekly worship attendance at their church will increase in the next five years. But looking at the last five years, only 36 percent of pastors say worship attendance growth increased, while two-thirds say attendance stayed the same or declined (27 percent decreased, 37 percent stayed the same).

Pastors more likely to say worship attendance grew in the past five years include those from ethnicities other than white or African American (50 percent), those pastors aged 18 to 54 (41 percent), Baptists (41 percent), those leading a congregation of 250 or more in worship (56 percent) and those minister¬ing in a western state (43 percent).

“There is a sharp contrast between how many pastors think their churches are going to grow and how few are actually growing.” McConnell asked. “We have one-third with worship attendance growing and 79 percent who say it’s going to grow in the next five years.

“Logically how do you put that together? What’s going to change at the church for that to happen? Pastors are saying, ‘If we reach the next generation, we can do this.’”

Looking five years out, anticipation for growth in worship attendance is strongest among pastors ages 45 to 54 (85 percent), evangelicals (85 percent), Pentecostals (94 percent) and pastors with worship attendance of 250 or more (91 percent).

For more information, visit LifeWayResearch.com.