Why Aren't These Churches Growing?

A recent survey by the Barna Research Group finds about 324,000 churches in the U.S. that claim to be Protestant with an average of 100 adults attending on a typical Sunday.

This adds up to some 32 million adults in a Protestant church on a given week. This figure has not changed significantly in the last ten years.

The pastors reported that only about four out of ten of these adults are actively involved in the church's ministry efforts. Nine out of ten pastors said their church was "evangelistic," yet less than one in three of church attendees had shared their faith with a non-believer in the last year. Barna's tracking surveys indicate that only about 8% of the adult population can be accurately described as "evangelical" even though one out of every four adults uses that label to describe himself.

While three out of five senior pastors said that their church was "seeker sensitive," research indicated that only one out of four churches offer a "weekend event that is specifically designed with the needs and perspectives of non-believers in mind.

Visitors surveyed who never return to a Protestant church, said that they found the experience to be "irrelevant to my life." George Barna, president of Barna Research, said, "In spite of the intense interest of Americans in spirituality, the lack of numerical growth in Protestant congregations suggests the need for new and creative approaches to penetrating communities with practical Christianity." One of the new approaches used by churches in the past five years is to saturate their communities with gospel tracts. Hundreds of churches have taken advantage of Chick Publication's offer of 10,000 tracts printed with the name of the ministry on the back cover. Some have repeatedly ordered and flooded their cities with 100,000 or more.

Many have reported multiple benefits. Beside a strong satisfaction that they have significantly increased the general awareness of the claims of Christ, the excitement level of the church members has been raised as they saw people saved, inspiring them to greater diligence in their witnessing. A few pioneering pastors have used the tracts to build new works that they were starting.

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