Older statistics showed that 3,500 to 4,000 churches closed each year while only 1,000 churches are planted. 1 A recent study, however, showed 4,000 Protestant churches were planted while only 3,700 closed their doors in 2014.2 There are approximately 11 churches per 10,000 people in America.3
Though some polls will suggest that up to 40% of Americans regularly attend church, studies observing actual attendance suggest that only half of this many people attend church on a given Sunday.4 Roughly 1 out of 5 Americans regularly attends church. From this group, 6 out of 10 attend a church attended by fewer than 100 adults (the average being 89), and 1 out of 8 attend a church attended by more than 1,000 adults.5
The population of Rockford was 148,278 in 2015.6 If we apply the data in the previous paragraphs to our city’s population and round the numbers by using 150,000 for the population, we can make several interesting observations. There should be about 165 churches in Rockford that are attended by 30,000 people. 3,750 people will attend two or three churches attended by 1,000 or more adults each weekend. 18,000 will attend churches attended by fewer than 100 adults each weekend. The remaining 8,250 people attend churches that range between 100 and 1,000 adult attendees on a given weekend.
While it is interesting to see how many people attend the variously sized churches in Rockford, the far more gripping implication from the paragraphs above is that 120,000 people in Rockford do not go to church anywhere at all, 4 out of 5 people. Moreover, assuming each church to be worth attending (a questionable assumption), if there are only 11 churches per 10,000 people in America, that means there are 909 people for every church. If we have 50 people here today, there are at least 859 people nearby who are either disobediently forsaking the assembly or do not know Christ at all. What will do to reach them?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38).
Endnotes: (1) Richard J. Krejcir, “Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline” (2007). Online: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=42346&colu mnid=4545. (2) Lisa Cannon Green, “Church Planting 2015: Who Attends and What Attracted Them” (Dec 8 2015). Online: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015 /december/church-planting-2015-who-attends-what-attracted-lifeway.html. (3) Krejcir, “Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline.” (4) Kelly Shattuck, “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America” (no date). Online: http://www. churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html. See also Ed Stetzer, “No, American Christianity is not dead” (May 16, 2015). Online: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/16/living/christianity-american-dead/. (5) Barna Group, “Small Churches Struggle to Grow Because Of The People They Attract” (Sept 2, 2003). Online: https://www.barna.org/component/content/ article/5-barna-update/45-barna-update-sp-657/126-small-churches-struggle-to-grow-because-of-the-people-they-attract#.V0733JErKUk.
(6) United States Censes Bureau, “Rockford city, Illinois.” Search query, “’rockford, il.”
Online: http://www.census.gov/search-results.html?q=rockford%2C+il&search.x=0&search.y=0& search=submit &page=1&stateGeo=none&searchtype=web&cssp=SERP. All online articles accessed 01 June 2016.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.