I recently visited a church where I had an opportunity to share how the Cal-Pac Conference of the UMC is really doing in growth. After sharing, the woman looked at me and said, “that cannot be right, I heard (unnamed person) say the no one new comes to church and that the UMC would be gone in the next decade.” So, what are the facts?
This is the last post in our series on Bishop Grant’s challenge from 2016 Annual Conference. Our Bishop challenged us to grow our churches by 10% in worship and by 10 people in professions of faith/baptisms. I’d like to end by sharing some facts and invite us to embrace a growth mindset.
Does it surprise you to know that 81.6% of Cal Pac Churches received new members in 2014-16? That is 293 of 359 churches. Let that sink in – almost 82% of our churches received new members.
Overall, we added 3,428 members but lost 5,470 (death, removal from charge conference, corrections from last years numbers, transfers). For us to have grown in membership as a Conference, we would need to add 20 new members per growing church.
Are there churches that experienced net growth? Net growth is more new members than deaths/transfers? Yes. We have found that 113 churches had a net gain in membership between 2014-16. Read the list.
What about worship attendance? Are there churches that increased in worship attendance? Yes. 114 churches had an increase in worship attendance in Cal-Pac between 2014-16. Read the list.
Basically 1/3 of our churches had net increases in worship attendance and in new members.
(Note: the pastors listed are those appointed July 1, 2016 and may not be the pastors who were appointed to the church during 2014-16.)
Here is the breakdown of percentage of churches that increased worship attendance between 2014-2016.
East District – 30%, Hawaii District – 45%, North District – 28%,
South District – 23%, West District – 38%
One last fact –
“California’s population on July 1, 2016 was 39.4 million. The state is poised to reach a population of 40 million by the year 2018, 45 million by 2035, and 50 million during 2055. Between 2016 and 2060, the state is projected to grow by 30 percent: from 39.4 million to 51.1 million (0.6 percent annually), adding over 11.7 million people (more than the 2016 population of Ohio).” The people are coming and it is a time of great opportunity for the church.
So, what do we believe about the church’s future? Do we tell ourselves the church cannot grow? Do we believe it?
What if we looked at the facts, the possibilities and the opportunities?
What if we embraced our history as a movement begun in a time of church decline?
I believe that some of our churches will close but that for many of us, growth is still possible.
So, what is your plan for growth? I hope these 9 posts have encouraged you to dream about your church’s future and have given you some practical ideas.
Let me leave you with a great opportunity to learn about growth:
Come to our Midsize Church Growth Conference (open to any size church). Local and inexpensive ($25) – this will inspire you and your church!