Thursday, June 10, 2010

An interesting fact

An interesting fact was brought up today at Annual Conference. They said that in the entire United Methodist denomination that 76% of our churches had an average worship attendance of less than 100. In the North Carolina Annual Conference there is an average worship attendance of less than 100 in 74% of our churches. That seems like a very large number of churches are small membership churches. What do you all think about that?

1 comment:

Alan Felton said...

These are interesting statistics. Obviously small membership churches are the backbone of our denomination. Perhaps some of this is attributable to the way Methodism developed in America. I am reading a book on Francis Asbury and the author makes an interesting point that as Methodism was gaining a foothold in North America, there were competing visions of what it would look like in the colonies. Joseph Pilmore's vision was much more aligned with developing Methodism in the large cities of the north such as Philadelphia and New York. Asbury and Thomas Rankin were more oriented to evangelizing in smaller towns and toward terrorities where expansion was happening. The fact that Asbury's vision largely won out over Pilmore's might still be a legacy we are living with today in the high number of small membership churches often found in rural areas. How this affects the denomination in the 21st Century remains to be seen. I think that there will always be a need for vibrant, small membership churches to serve rural constituencies and also specific urban ones. As the Council of Bishops has made clear in their Seven Pathways, there should be an emphasis on new church planting as well as revitalizing and sustaining existing churches. It will be interesting to see how these statistics on small membership churches shift over the next 10-30 years.