18 Church Trends (and More!): Trends 9 & 10

Continuing my highly derivative series on church trends, the next 10 are from an article by church growth consultant and author Thom Rainer:

Trend 9: Worship center downsizing becomes normative.

This trend was easy to predict. The Millennials are leading the way to attend worship services that are small to mid-size. As a consequence, the huge worship centers have lost their attraction. Church architects and design/build firms will be busy downsizing worship centers.

Eh … this one doesn’t have much to do with Churches of Christ. We only have a handful of “mega-churches,” that is, churches with more than 2,000 in average attendance.

Trend 10: Longer pastoral tenure.

This trend is being led by Millennial pastors. These younger pastors do not desire to climb the ladder to larger churches. They are more desirous to stay and make a long-term difference in the community.

In the Churches of Christ, preachers typically don’t grow churches. Rather, the preacher grows and so changes churches to a congregation large enough for his talents. You can study the stats if you wish. There is simply no correlation with “pastoral tenure” and church growth. Rather, better preachers get job offers and move to larger, better paying churches.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some preachers do stay for many years and build the church numerically. But it’s truly exceptional when this happens. See my analysis of the data at this old post: Church Growth: Hiring the Right Preacher, Part 2.

All the church growth literature says that long-term tenure by the same preacher is essential to growth — but it just doesn’t happen in Churches of Christ. Either our preachers don’t know how to grow a church or else our elders and other influential church members so staunchly oppose needed change that we just don’t grow. And the numbers bear this out.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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2 Responses to 18 Church Trends (and More!): Trends 9 & 10

  1. Rich says:

    I wish I could disagree with this preacher trend but I can’t. My wife and I lived in the same town our first 20 years. We attended three congregations. Each move was when the preacher was let go. the third time was a charm. We pleasantly was a part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the same preacher. He was hired at age 51. One philosophy of the elders there stood out to me. They felt the job of the preacher was encouragement. It was the elders job to do the nasty work when problems arose in the congregation. Keep the sermons positive and about ways to be a loving Christian.

  2. Gary says:

    Unless this has changed in the past decade a high percentage of CoC ministers leave full-time ministry by their 40’s or 50’s. Churches of Christ have always seemed to me to put a premium on youth for their ministers. As ministers enter their midlife years only a few continue to be in demand. Also financial pressures contribute to CoC ministers leaving ministry. Salaries may seem fine but the lack of affordable benefits and costs of children entering college cause pressures to mount which are often met by leaving ministry. Some ministers with working spouses whose jobs provide excellent benefits are able to continue in ministry. Churches of Christ are overwhelmingly small churches with limited ability to increase minister compensation. The larger congregations which can afford a salary that is commensurate with a minister’s education and experience as well as good benefits are a small segment of Churches of Christ and are concentrated in the South and Southwest.

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