Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
It’s that time of year again. We collect and share all the latest church statistics you need to know and consider as we head into the new year.
Much of the country is coming out of lockdowns and going back to work. And there has been some semblance of a return to normal. But other trends have taken a stronghold, too. It’s these trends and church statistics that will help you develop a ministry outreach strategy in 2022.
Without further ado, here are the details every church leader needs to know for success in 2022.
Previous Editions of Church Statistics You Should Know
Church Statistics 2021
Church Statistics 2020
Church Statistics 2019
Church Statistics 2018
Church Statistics 2017
Table of contents
- 1. The Attendance vs. Engagement Shift
- 2. A Rise in Part-Time Vocational Ministry
- 3. Horizontal Growth Is the Way Forward
- 4. Resistance to Change Is Futile
- 5. Growing Numbers of Ministries Are Giving Back
- 6. Credit Card Gifting Is More Popular
- 7. Latest Church Statistics Suggest a Growing Shortage of Pastors
- 8. December Continues to Be the Most Popular Gifting Month of All
- 9. Latest Church Statistics Suggest Women Donate More Frequently
- 10. People Still Believe Charity Can Make a Difference
- 11. Latest Church Statistics for In-Person Attendance
- 12. The Latest Church Statistics for Gen Z Attendance
- 13. The Latest Church Statistics About Digital Adoption
- 14. The Latest Church Statistics Regarding Baptisms
- 15. Church Should Complement Not Compete
- 16. Evangelism Is a Church Priority
- 17. More Churches Are Merging Ministries
- 18. Growing Engagement with Groups
1. The Attendance vs. Engagement Shift
Before COVID-19, the church’s focus used to be attracting members to attend service. However, the church stats and data suggest in-person attendance is only 36-60% of what it was pre-COVID.
But now, with social distancing best practices and the more common use of digital channels, attracting people to your church might be a futile effort.
Instead of spending time and budget to bring members into your church, you should explore ways to engage new members. Engagement drives attendance now, not the other way around. And it’s a shift most are predicting will remain in 2022.
2. A Rise in Part-Time Vocational Ministry
Vocational ministry, by definition, refers to the full-time commitment a person makes to working for a Christian organization or in a church-based setting. And in years past, the idea of part-time vocational ministry was polarizing and almost taboo.
But the latest church statistics predict there is a growing number of faith leaders opting for the bi-vocational commitment. Some even suggest it will soon become the norm.
Estimates and church statistics show there are more than one million part-time pastors and church staff in North America right now.
According to the 2015 Faith Communities Today survey, fewer than two-thirds (62.2 percent) of U.S. churches have a full-time pastor.
And based on surveys of church leaders who are embracing the part-time vocational ministry movement, it’s less about financial reasons and more about flexibility. Many are calling it a reality more than a movement, and it’s being coined as “co-vocational ministry” as a trend leading into 2022.
3. Horizontal Growth Is the Way Forward
Before anyone worried about spreading viruses, churches would focus on vertical growth. And by vertical growth, we mean bringing bigger numbers into the existing channels. Let’s explain.
Building a strategy to increase the number of new visitors attending your church on Sunday morning is an example of vertical growth. Increasing participation in the various church groups you have also falls into this category. And striving for more baptisms every year is a vertical church stat and benchmark.
The pandemic is driving ministries to explore other options beyond the Sunday service. More horizontal growth is taking place. For example, setting up a new site for worship outside of the normal schedule is horizontal growth. Online service is an example. And the data points to 65% of faith members saying they have recently watched services online.
4. Resistance to Change Is Futile
Tradition is essential to your ministry. But not at the expense of growth and evolution. Times are changing, and if your church doesn’t change too, it could fall behind and into obscurity.
This isn’t a doom and gloom prediction. It’s a reality. Some faith leaders cling to “how we used to do things” with white knuckles. But the pandemic, and several other sociopolitical, economic, and spiritual shifts are reworking the landscape of worship.
Churches that put all their efforts into the “building” and not the “community,” for example, will lose traction. And the latest church statistics suggest people are desperate to let go of non-essential traditions of yesterday.
5. Growing Numbers of Ministries Are Giving Back
In line with the “out with the old” and “in with the new” ideas, churches are creating new traditions focused more on giving back. Serving food to the elderly, collecting for the less fortunate, and supporting community children are all taking precedent in today’s faith ministries.
If your church does some of these things, it may not be enough. You can capitalize on this growing trend by promoting more opportunities to give back. Create special groups which can lead the ongoing efforts. Redesign any marketing and outreach to appeal to new members eager to join in a good cause.
6. Credit Card Gifting Is More Popular
More than 50% of church giving comes directly from credit cards. And tithing is not excluded from this preferred method of payment. The latest church statistics indicate that nearly 77% of tithing donating members are sharing as much as 11-20% of their income, too.
While the majority, around 80%, is still keen to tithe about 2% of their income, the more notable trend here is the method of donation. If your church doesn’t have an adequate and convenient way to collect digitally, you could be missing out on these routine donations. Churches that accept online tithing, for example, record a 32% increase in donations.
7. Latest Church Statistics Suggest a Growing Shortage of Pastors
In a Barna Group survey, nearly 38% of pastors are considering stepping away from full-time ministry. This percentage is up from the 29% previously reported in January.
The struggle is partially driven by the pandemic and disappointing burnout that so many faith leaders are feeling these days. Additionally, there are countless churches struggling to find pastors right now.
If you’re feeling the burnout yourself, don’t ignore it. Instead, take the necessary steps to prioritize your tasks. Take the breaks you need to regain a healthy perspective. And there are resources available should you need additional help.
8. December Continues to Be the Most Popular Gifting Month of All
It might be a no-brainer that December tends to be the most popular month for churches to receive gifts and donations. But the numbers are impressive. Roughly 30% of all U.S. annual donations roll in throughout the month of December. And nearly 10% of recorded donations occur during the very last three days of the year.
9. Latest Church Statistics Suggest Women Donate More Frequently
The U.S. charitable giving statistics recorded that about 64% of all donations across the country came from women. And Religion Unplugged suggests women are more likely to become affiliated with ministry and religion than men.
10. People Still Believe Charity Can Make a Difference
Hope is still alive, as the statistics suggest a whopping 77% of Americans still believe that charity can make an impactful difference in people’s lives. And as a whole, nearly 70% of all Americans nationwide continue to donate money every year.
Adding to this trend of charity, church statistics from Philanthropy Roundtable show that almost 40% of those donations align with religious causes. When compared to a few of the other popular causes, like nature (4%) and health-related causes (11%,) that’s a sizable percentage of people giving to faith-based charities.
11. Latest Church Statistics for In-Person Attendance
You don’t need stats to tell you fewer people are attending service in person these days. But the trend metrics are worth knowing. It seems that 2021 has loosened up a bit. Unstuck Group’s data indicates an overall drop of 28%, which stings slightly less from the 36% drop in 2020.
Church attendance, of course, varies by region. So, some pastors are reporting only 20% reductions. Others are still experiencing 30-60% hits for in-person attendance.
What this data suggests is that more people are venturing back to the church, albeit slowly.
12. The Latest Church Statistics for Gen Z Attendance
It may be helpful to know about the latest church statistics regarding young adults and service attendance. And as part of a Barna/Stadia study conducted in late 2020, 41% of Gen Z participants said they would return to in-person service post-COVID. Nearly the same number of Millennials (42%) agreed.
These metrics can be useful to your church in a number of ways. Since the majority of both Gen Z and Millennials don’t want to physically attend service, there is an opportunity to reach them online with virtual options. And knowing fewer of these younger folks are interested in the in-person experience is helpful. You can change your church spending, as a result, to focus on the digital channels.
13. The Latest Church Statistics About Digital Adoption
Many church leaders have already begun to explore the new way forward with digital outreach. Online services and virtual engagement are more popular. However, much of the data still shows there are still ministries struggling. There is a lack of budget, time, and know-how to make the digital shift.
Only 21% of church leaders in one survey believed their ministry’s online strategy was working well. That points to another almost 80% of leaders who don’t have the confidence in their current digital efforts.
If you find yourself in that nearly 80% group, getting serious about engaging people outside the church and faith with digital media is a great goal for 2022. And ReachRight can help you carve out a plan and budget to do so.
14. The Latest Church Statistics Regarding Baptisms
Many reports were showing serious declines nationwide in the number of baptisms for year-end 2020. But that was, of course, pandemic driven. You can’t very well encourage baptisms with lockdowns and social distancing. And the current data for 2021 baptism totals are still being calculated.
While baptisms are still said to be low, there are signs of hope. The Baptist Press shared the story of one Texas ministry that performed a record 601 baptisms in 2021. This points to the notion that people are making a comeback to the church and returning to faith.
15. Church Should Complement Not Compete
Other known trends in 2021 include the growing number of families joining the church. And a Barna study showed nearly 58% of Christian parents joined their churches initially based on children’s programs.
This points to a more widespread adoption of new church offerings. More notably, churches have programs that complement with busy family schedules and not compete with them. Lives are hectic with activities. Your church can attract them by growing those kid-friendly programs that fit right into those busy, hectic schedules.
Convenience is key in today’s everyday lifestyle. Your church marketing can take a page from the business playbook and find new ways to make church engagement easy and hassle-free. This will usually mean adding several methods for attracting the kids. And it also means offering a host of virtual faith resources.
16. Evangelism Is a Church Priority
You already know the importance of evangelism as a pillar of your ministry outreach. But the stats suggest it isn’t always an easy practice to follow. Nevertheless, the breakout churches emerging now are those focusing on evangelism more than any other point in faith history.
One site many are exploring is called Pray and Go. Its growing popularity indicates most of today’s churches are taking evangelism seriously. Also, more are taking the necessary steps to prioritize evangelism for growth.
17. More Churches Are Merging Ministries
Denominational support has waned over the last two years. And this has dried up financial resources for smaller churches. Those in more rural areas have been hit especially hard.
As a result, some church data points to a growing number of churches facing closures or mergers. However, these trends really only sped up the pace for those ministries already heading in that direction.
Estimates say as many as 15,000 churches will face this tough decision. And while this forecast is sad, it also shows a potential surge in support as more churches lean into mergers. Sometimes referred to as “church acquisition” or “replants,” these measures can lead to healthier ministries overall with pooled resources.
18. Growing Engagement with Groups
Groups within the church have always been a reliable method to engage existing members. But in the last year, the faith-based groups have been driving the new member numbers.
Because of social distancing, smaller group get-togethers are more popular. From general Bible study to themed groups of “men exploring faith,” these smaller meetings are proving to be luring new potential members.
Additionally, you can take these church stats and trends to help create a new strategy for 2022 to help grow and develop your church groups.
As you reflect on the successes and challenges of 2021, consider the latest church statistics. You can use these trending metrics to help lay out a new strategy for 2022 to improve membership engagement and ministry growth.
And, if you need help dissecting your digital efforts or want to explore Google Grant funding, let ReachRight be your guide! We can help your church put its best foot forward in 2022!