Sunday, August 13, 2006

American Churches: A Changing Culture

Betty Mulloy, of Pastors Retreat Network, identifies the following trends. Her entire article, which includes information about how "healthy pastors" should take advantage of retreat opportunities, appears at:

A quick look at the American Church reveals a culture in change. Research identifies several major trends that provide both opportunities and challenges for local church pastors:

Churches are either getting smaller or larger. According to the National Congregational Survey, 71 percent of U.S. congregations have fewer than 100 regularly participating adult members, and the median congregation has just 75 regular participants. Only 10 percent of U.S. congregations have more than 350 participants — though those congregations account for almost half of all churchgoers.

Rural churches face special challenges as increasing numbers of people move to urban areas, taking their financial resources with them. As a result, many rural churches have difficulty finding full-time pastors.

George Barna (The Barna Update, October 10, 2005) has reported that more than 20 million adults throughout the nation are “revolutionaries.” In Barna’s words, “These are people who are less interested in attending church than in being the church. We found that there is a significant distinction in the minds of many people between the local church — with a small ‘c’ — and the universal Church — with a capital ‘C’. Revolutionaries tend to be more focused on being the Church, capital C, whether they participate in a congregational church or not.”

Clergy are leaving parish ministry in greater numbers and after shorter tenures, according to a 2005 report by Patricia Chung for Pulpit and Pew. The average pastor changes assignments every three years and has little opportunity to advance to larger, more prestigious positions because comparatively few are available.

The average salary for pastors of congregations with less than 100 members is $32,500 (Christian Ministry Resources report, 2004).

According to H.B London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, in their book Pastors at Greater Risk (Regal Books, 2003), 90 percent of pastors feel inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands, and 70 percent do not have a close friend.


Post a Comment

<< Home