Church Study Released

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%.)

Further Results:

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, e.hirr@hartsem.edu.

Friday Fax