As I travel the commonwealth and preach in congregations — both large and small — I can say God is moving. It is great to witness many baptisms, breakthroughs in community strongholds and increased giving to the church. The pastors/elders, deacons and membership are working together in many of these churches to bring about dynamic growth as they follow the Holy Spirit.
In a recent 2023 survey by Horizons Stewardship, the statistics reveal potential challenges and opportunities. Here is the summary:
• Giving and Worship Attendance Changes: There is a clear pattern that we have been seeing emerge for the last several years. Very large churches are experiencing strong growth in worship attendance, while those in the middle ($100,000 to $999,999 in annual giving) are struggling with far more churches declining in worship attendance and giving rather than growing.
• Online and On-demand Worship: The high percentage (94.17%) of churches adopting in-person and on-line worship models underscores a profound transformation in congregational engagement. Churches that have successfully adapted their worship services to meet changing needs, whether through innovative online offerings or by enhancing the on-campus experience, are more likely to have seen growth or maintained attendance. Offering in-person, online and on-demand worship models are the norm, requiring churches to invest in technology and digital ministry strategies.
Larger churches, in general, are flourishing in stewardship and are increasing in attendance. The medium (under $1 million budget) and smaller churches (under $500,000 budget) are struggling. Obviously, we can cite several examples of God blessing churches of all sizes in these categories, but these are national statistics.
This data may be discouraging to some in Kentucky. The majority of our churches are small and medium congregations. I believe the important knowledge on church growth comes from scripture. Let’s examine the early church and its amazing growth.
As I read Acts 2:42-47, I see the early church being blessed by God. The scripture in Acts 2:47 says, “And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” In this passage we see the church God blesses. Notice these points of emphasis:
•The message of Christ was at the center. Churches that God uses keep evangelism and the gospel in the forefront. I encourage strong outreach programs to evangelize your community.
•The members were together. There is no mention of personal agendas, political persuasion or breakaway groups. They focused on the unity that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. How we need this today!
•The methods were pure and heartfelt. They were devoted to discipleship, prayer and fellowship. In worship they experienced the Lord’s table and reflected on how Jesus saved them from their sins. Yes, Christ must be at the center of every worship service, Bible study and fellowship.
God wants to bless our churches today. Let us strive to invest in the eternal things that will bring life change to our communities. I pray that our KBC churches will keep Christ at the center, our members stay together and our methods be pure and simple.
French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.
This article was reposted from Kentucky Today.