How Much of Church Growth Is Based on Demographics? The Data Provides a Compelling and Clear Answer

What must happen for my church to grow? Many pastors and church leaders ask this question. Whether a church grows its attendance or not is top of mind for any casual observer of American religion. Obviously, some of what drives these dynamics are unmeasurable—good preaching, strong discipleship programs, and a compelling worship experience are not easily reduced to numbers in a spreadsheet. 

However, that doesn’t mean that social science tools cannot be used to understand some of the macro-level factors that impact the trajectory of local churches. To see what data can tell us about this topic, I had to find a list of churches that had experienced tremendous growth in recent years. 

I found such a list on Outreach’s website. I wrote a short program to scrape the information from the last several years and drop it into a spreadsheet. This exercise gave me a total sample of 855

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