One of the outcomes of the study was that 6 in 10 Protestant churches had plateaued or declined in attendance in the past 12 months. Of the 1,000 Protestant pastors polled in the study, about 8 percent of them had no new converts in the last 12 months.
Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, commented on the study by saying that it provides a very realistic picture of what is currently taking place in American churches today.
“The accuracy of this research cannot be overstated. LifeWay Research phoned 1,000 Protestant pastors. Quotas were used to maintain the correct population of each church size. Responses were weighed by region to reflect more accurately the total U.S. population. The sample provides a 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%. This information from the statistical nerds assures us the study is very accurate,” he wrote.
The study revealed that 42 percent of evangelical churches experienced growth, compared to 34 percent of mainline churches. 23 percent of smaller churches with fewer than 50 persons attending worship services on average said they were growing while 59 percent of churches that average 250 or more worshipers weekly said the same.
“That is the lowest of any of the categories of churches and is an indicator that these churches are at the greatest risk of dying,” Rainier said of the churches with 50 persons attending worship services.
The research also revealed that the Pentecostal churches reported more growth in new converts than any other denomination. About 57 percent of Pentecostal pastors reported 10 or more new commitments to Christ in their church last year per 100 attendees.
This was followed by Lutherans, 39 percent; Holiness churches, 38 percent; and Baptists, 35 percent.