by Friday Fax
After five years of research, the Hartford Institute for Religious Research has released "the most extensive study of religion in the USA."
The "FACT-Study" examined 14,301 churches from 41 Christian denominations and other religious groups including Mormons, Moslems, and Bahai'i, which cover some 90% of the attendance of religious services in the U.S. Some of the results-predominantly from Christian churches-are summarized below:
Smaller Than Generally Realized
A church is generally thought of as "an urban mega-church with a high tower." The reality is rather different: half of all churches in the U.S. have less than 100 adult members, and over half are in rural areas or small towns. Twenty-five percent have less than 50 active members, and less than 10% have more than 1,000 active members.
Thirteen-and-one-half percent of the respondents rated their church as "very open for innovation and change," 31.6% rated it "quite open," 37.5% "somewhat open," 13.6% "hardly open," and 3.7% "not open." Additionally, 17.1% rated their church highly as a "moral beacon in the community," 39.3% rated it "quite high," 32.6% "somewhat," 9.4% "hardly,'"and 1.7% "not at all." (The figures are rounded, and do not quite add up to 100%.)
• 51% of all churches are growing;
• The younger a church is, the clearer its aims;
• More than half of the churches were started before 1945;
• The average age of religious leaders is 51.3 (range from 24 to 87); 89% are paid;
• Evangelical churches are the most likely to be growing, particularly in suburbs;
• 67% of churches indicated that all or most attendees are white. "Sunday morning is no more segregated than Saturday evening."
• The older the church, the longer the average distance traveled to reach it: church location and home drift apart with time;
• Men and young people like large churches: the larger the church, the larger the proportion of men and youths.
Source: Hartford Institute for Religious Research, firstname.lastname@example.org.