Evangelism and Externally Focused Ministry: How People Are Coming to Faith as Churches Do Good in the Community

Brought to you by Compassion International

by Eric Swanson

We’ve all heard the news; the number of people who are attending churches in the U.S. is in decline. For the past several years we’ve poured over research from Pew, Hartford, Stetzer, Rainer, and Leadership Network’s Bird that tells us:

  • “Roughly half of all churches in America did not add one new person through conversion growth last year.”
  • “In America, it takes the combined effort of 85 Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert.”
  • This year in the United States…4,000 churches will be started…3,500 churches will close.
  • “Growing churches make up only about 20% of all U.S. churches today. The rest have reached a plateau or are declining.”

Recently we’ve been reading about decreasing frequency of attendance. Where attendance “twice on Sunday” (morning and evening service) was once the expected norm, twice or three times a month seems to be the new standard. We read about the rise of the “nones” (those who choose not to identify with any faith tradition) and the exodus of the “dones” (those 2.7 million per year who have been faithful and active church members in the past but now are de-churched by choice). Millennials especially are prone to disconnect from church.  More than twice as many Millennials as Boomers are recognized as “nones.” Are we as the church headed for irrelevance in the U.S.?

Where are the outliers?  Where are the exceptions? Are there others who are forging a different path and seeing different results?

In dramatic contrast, we’ve discovered a very different story with a certain kind of church….