Multiplication Center

Part Two – Things that AREN’T changing but some say they are

November 11, 2009


OK, if you missed the first post in this series, find it here.

And the same caveats apply as to my sense of the world.

So the first thing that isn’t changing but some say they are:/p>

  1. Megachurches are declining. Not happening.  First let’s define megachurches as those with attendance of 2000 or more in a weekend. Second, some megachurches are declining in attendance but overall many more are going up. PLUS we still have new megachurches we are adding every week to our database as they rise above that artificial attendance mark. The number of megachurches per million of population continues to rise. What happens is that some commentators look at some megachurches of the past era and say “look –they are declining” and some are. But by and large that movement is still growing.
  2. The House Church is Expanding Rapidly in America – my sense is that there has been a slight increase in that number as a percentage of population, but not a dramatic increase. There are more books being published and more interest but I am not sure I see a change in behavior. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pro simple/organic church. I want to see many more, but I don’t think that number is moving that dramatically. (and in a future blog post I will cover some of the great books being released by this movement from my friend Frank Viola as well as Tony and Felicity Dale)
  3. Urban or Exurban – The Richard Florida “people are moving into urban areas to be cool” vs Joel Kotkin “watch the exurbs” debate. More people are moving to suburbs and exurbs than vice versa. Sure, some urban core areas are growing but the growth rates are much, much less than the other regions. For churches, that means new church development is still going to be suburban and exurban.
  4. Driving habits and road building  – some say “people are driving less and in the future we aren’t going to be able to build all these roads.” I get it at a policy level politically, but no real evidence that people are driving less. Follow the stimulus money. A lot went to road building. We may not have a coherent national policy on transportation for a long while.
  5. Seminaries – A few folks are making some valiant efforts but the nature of those institutions is not to change quickly. So change in that arena is going to be glacial in pace. Plus full time equivalency numbers in all seminaries broadly seems to be fairly static. While a lot seems to be moving on line and new formats, the core seems to be fairly static.
  6. Denominational bodies  – I see lots of talk, lots of rebranding, little real change. Like seminaries, these bodies are not designed to change quickly. That is not a good or a bad thing. All I am saying is when I hear “look how these bodies are changing” I just say – huh? I am all for healthy seminaries and healthy denominations, I just don’t see a lot of change.
  7. “The Nones” – Lots of talk about the religious identification survey and the rise of the Nones. I have done some breakdown of those numbers and my bottom line: Are more people claiming no affiliation with any religion. Yes. But there are some other facts in there that are driving it beside normal religious ones. And the number really changed in the 90s, not the current decade. Though there was a post last week from Brad Wilcox that I think is interesting in this arena. But bottom line, there are still lots of folks that “believe in God” and want to identify with a tradition, but aren’t. If I were a church leader I would be more concerned about that group than the “Nones.”

OK, as before, feel free to have your own opinion and express it below, I will be interested in reading it.

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