Survey finds direct connection between church expansion, attendance

Within the last five years two-thirds of U.S. Protestant churches have expanded the amount of space they dedicate to ministries or how they do outreach. A new study by LifeWay Research indicates that not all forms of church development produce equal results. The survey of 1,000 pastors showed that adding an additional worship service or adding a new building on existing property were the most effective ways of including new membership. Closely behind, according to pastors, was adding space to existing buildings. The survey analyzed seven different ways churches handle expansion. Beyond those three most effective categories, pastors deemed less effective: adding an additional service or venue off-site, online streaming of services or sermons, staring a new church or merging with an existing church. The survey also showed a direct correlation between expansion of some sort and increased attendance. Forty-four percent of overall pastors said they had experienced growth in the past five years. Conversely, only 34 percent pastors who said their church didn’t expand somehow in the last five years said they experienced growth. Similarly, churches which didn’t expand saw a greater number of attendees leave their congregations. “Many churches who do not take steps to expand are struggling,” said Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. “Pastors of churches who take the same message to more people through new methods and new media are expressing the positive impact of these steps of faith.” Somewhat discouraging, however, may be the fact that many churches are increasing their membership by picking up people from different congregations rather than attracting new believers. Transferred members outstripped previously unchurched members by a 49-32 percent margin over the last five years. The research was conducted by LifeWay Research and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network. Link: Podcast describing research findings in detail: http://www.emedialink.com/view_video.php?viewkey=035fcc76b1b1d26fd42f&cid=LifeWayResearchUpdateSpring20092

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