The Burge Report: Retention Rates in Churches Are Not What They Used to Be (Here’s Why)

Episode #BR004
June 21, 2024
Rainer on Leadership Podcast Logo

How many people are really leaving their childhood faith? Ryan Burge joins Thom and Sam on this special episode to unpack important data for churches. Retention rates are a good indicator of how well a church disciples people. Keeping people is a major part of church health. The hosts discuss the data concerning national trends with church retention.

    • A retention rate is the percentage of people who were raised in a certain faith tradition that still affiliate with that same tradition as adults.
    • Mainline Protestants struggle with retention. The rate was 76% in the 1970s. Today it is 58%.
    • Conservative Evangelicals fare better. Retention rates in the 1970s were 78%. Today it is 73%.
    • When a mainline Protestant leaves their tradition, they are almost as likely to become an evangelical as a none (14% vs 20%).
    • When evangelicals leave, the most likely landing spot is nones at 13%. But that’s that many folks at the end of the day.
    • The exvangelical movement is really not that big. The mainline to evangelical pipeline is actually larger.
    • What might the future hold? The aging of congregations and “leaky boats” with more holes.


Episode Sponsors:

Tithely provides churches around the world with software tools to help them and their ministries thrive.

Nearly 40,000 churches use Tithely for online and text giving, managing their people’s information, volunteer management, child check in, church apps and websites, and communicating through email and text messaging.

Made up of a team of ministry-minded people, Tithely’s heart is to see the local church empowered with the tools to fulfill their mission.

You can sign up for free at – yes that’s right, it’s free! Tithely’s giving platform comes with no monthly fees and no contracts. Get started taking donations in just 5 minutes at

Also, right now Tithely is offering a free report called “2023 State of Church Giving Report.” You can access that report free by clicking on the link in the show notes.