9 important church statistics for 2017

9 Important Church Statistics For 2017

Thomas CostelloWeb 27 Comments

*We have an updated version of this post for 2021 you can find here: 17 Church Statistics You Need To Know For 2023

UPDATE: Be Sure to check out our 2019 edition of this post with 37 new important church statistics. 

Also, see the 2018 edition. 

Sometimes it’s hard to see why church attendance is dropping or what things need to change to appeal to those still trying to find their faith.

When you look at church statistics, don’t get discouraged. Yes, the numbers might make you want to throw up your hands and leave it all in God’s hands, but they just prove that the world hasn’t given up on having faith just yet.

As long as millions are attending church, even if it’s not every Sunday, there’s hope. Use these statistics to help breathe life back into your church family and continue engaging members for decades to come.

1. Fewer Youth Attend Church

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Sadly, only 28% of younger Americans between 23 and 37 attend church. Other generations range between 43% and 52%. This is a significant drop in generational attendance and a large reason why many churches are seeing a decline in attendance. Basically, new young members are few and far between. The cause is because churches are having a hard time changing with the needs of younger generations.

2. Friendly Invites Are More Effective

Improving church attendance is a fruitless effort. Church statistics show that 47% of unchurched Americans are open to thinking about a new church based on a friend’s invite. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering the social networking age. Consider not only word-of-mouth but social networking as a way to boost attendance.

3. Involvement Doesn’t Start On Sunday

Sunday services are usually the starting point for new members, but now, many people aren’t interested in starting their journey with a church on Sunday morning or evening. Instead, 57% of churchless Americans would prefer a different introduction. Community events are key to drawing in new members and introducing them to your family.

4. Church Isn’t Helpful

Or at least, many Americans don’t think so. While your church may contribute often to the community or charity organizations, unchurched Americans may not realize that. They don’t see churches as having any positive impact on their communities. Nearly half (49%) can’t find a positive impact, but 37% couldn’t find a negative impact.

5. Millennials Are Leaving

Based on our first statistic, you’re probably not surprised to learn that 59% of millennials who grew up in churches are leaving. Today’s society is filled with different viewpoints and information coming from all angles. Millennials often leave because they don’t feel like a church meets their needs. While they might not have given up on church entirely, they’re trying to find a more casual church that fits their lifestyle.

6. Churches Are Plateauing

Look at society now and then think back 30 years. Much has changed since then, but has your church changed at all? A shocking 85% of US churches are either declining or plateauing. A large part of this is the need for churches to adapt to a changing world. Church members might leave one church for one that offers a more modern preaching style or more community involvement. Bringing your church and your church family into not just the present, but the future is vital to overcoming the plateau.

7. Church Goes High Tech

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Church doesn’t end inside a building. Today, church leaders and members have the opportunity to reach millions via social media. Even if someone isn’t attending, the word is still being spread. Take Pope Francis’s Twitter account, which has 10.1 million followers. Do all of those followers attend church regularly? Probably not, but at least they’re taking an interest in God.

8. Online Giving Works

If you ever needed a reason to have a church website, these church statistics on online giving might convince you. Many people prefer to donate online and 70% of non-profits offer this option to improve charitable donations. Only 42% of churches offer this option. This is ideal for members who may not attend regularly, but still want to give. It’s also a way for non-members to support causes that are close to their heart, even if they’re not able to attend church due to other obligations.

9. New Churches Increase Growth

Adding more churches when attendance is already declining might seem counter-intuitive. Yet, a study of over 600 southern Baptist churches showed that after planting a new church, attendance grew by 21.5% for at least five years. Part of the reason this works is because unchurched Americans and those unsatisfied with their current church see these new churches as a chance for change. It’s an opportunity to change old methods and modernize how they worship.

Church Statistics Agree

If you notice, there are two common themes among these church statistics – attendance is down and many people are seeking different ways to worship. Change is needed. Listen to your church family. Talk with the community. You’ll quickly see what people think and what changes are necessary.

Update: Check out the 2018 edition of this post for even more stats. 

Ready to start making positive changes and grow your church? Start with our web design services today to get your church in front of more potential members.

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Comments 27

  1. I think that it is interesting how people would like an introduction to Christian churches by going to weekday events. I agree that Sundays are the biggest commitment. By shifting to community events, the church can make a bigger role in the community.

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  2. We see many churches failing because pastors and church leaders have gotten away from attempting to reach lost souls but are more worried about attendance and money. Jesus describes these churches in Revelations 2:1…..I have been a pastor for 2 years and the church I took over had only 7 members but now are at 20 not a big growth but growth none the less with 15 to 20 salvations in this time….we havent changed our method of message…we preach Jesus is the only way to heaven and we have to repent of our sins and Jesus loves us. The church needs to get back to what thus saith the Lord. Not trying to please everyone.

  3. The last time I attended church was in about 2002 or 2003. I went to church and all I picked up around me was republican politics and how George Bush was sent by God to save us. As far as I know nothing has changed. Church is still a right wing political meeting each Sunday. No thanks.

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      Sorry to hear about your experience Mark. We don’t believe Jesus was a Republican… or a Democrat. Churches are full of imperfect people, but I’d encourage you to give it another shot.

  4. In previous generations, it was common for young people to leave the Church in their 20’s and 30’s and come back to the Church in their 40’s and 50’s. This was seen as young people “sowing their wild oats”. The issue today is: They aren’t coming back. They have permanently left Christianity. Why? I believe that the answer is this: the Internet.

  5. now people do not feel any faith in Christianity , ur churches running empty but still i dnt know why u convert poor peoples of other countries even though u cant even retain ur own people in religion

  6. I found the latest data from the Pew Research Center on education level and church attendance both interesting and encouraging.
    Our church doors are rarely locked any day or night of the week. People want and need community. Especially the young families. Spsonar events that are open to the community not just the church. Let organizations such as AA or Nar Non use the facility. Open a room to Yoga. Let your local Symphony Orchestra use your scantuary for concerts. Get them in the doors and they just might see the church as an opportune place to be both blessed and a blessing.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post. Would you be able to share where you acquired these statistics? I’d like to do some further research. Again, thank you.

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  8. It is so important to stay true to God’s Word. The message does not change because God does not change. We are on social media, and have a website. Unfortunately as far as attendance goes, there has not been a drastic change. But we will keep sharing, keep giving and keep inviting.

    Thank you for sharing this excellent article.

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  9. Great blog Thomas! Particularly 1 and 5 stand out to me. While the stats initially can come off as depressing, as a ministry leader I believe the take-away should be seeing an opportunity to reach the current culture by relating to them more. It reminds me of when the Apostle Paul said “that he became all things to all men that he may win some.” Never compromise scripture but be relevant!

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  10. If our understanding of God and the world hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus we are as guilty as the Pharisees in clinging to tradition rather than being open to the new things our living God is doing. John Claypool once said that the best name for God is “Surprise!”. We know more about the world than the writers of the Bible. Our theology needs to reflect that.

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      The results of the early church are undeniable. I believe our goal should be to have the same understanding of God as the writers of the bible, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Our methods of communicating that understanding of God can be radically different.

  11. Changing to a more “modern” style of preaching or worship, a more “casual” approach, etc. changes the message. There is room for careful use of new technology But “get modern or die” is devil’s talk.

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      Hey, David. I have heard it described as a question of changing methods vs changing the message. We are big fans of changing methods when it helps to get the message out to a wider audience. The way that we do church today is different from how church was done in 1900 which is different from how it was done in 1800… Methods change. I would agree with you however, the message cannot change because God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!

      1. I have not heard in church about the Fire of Hell in the last 30 yrs or more. The Holy Spirit must convict the human spirit of guilt before it will accept to being born-again. I wish I knew the answer as to why churches of today are nearly empty …. until something horrible happens then they run to church.

  12. Preach the grace of God has given to us by the Apostle Paul. Acts 13 and watch out for any counterfeit Galatians 1:8-9.

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