Phil Sanders recently reported in an article some very encouraging news regarding the growth of the Lord’s church. It seems that all we’ve heard about in recent years is how churches of Christ in the US are declining. But now a recent study by Harding University professor Dr. Flavil Yeakley indicates that churches of Christ in America have better numbers than many may have realized. Yeakley surveyed where the church stands in relation to other religious groups:
• Churches of Christ constitute the twelfth largest religious group in the U.S.
• They are the sixth fastest-growing group in the U.S.
• They rank fourth in the total number of congregations.
• The church is fifth in the U.S. in number of counties in which there is a
• It ranks first in the nation in distribution of congregations.
• Churches of Christ are first in the nation in weekly attendance among membership.
Sanders notes that Yeakley’s study revealed that the greatest retention rate of high school graduates comes from those congregations who are described as “middle of the road.” The worst retention rate comes from those bodies who are described as “liberal.” Yeakley shared these results recently on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University. He has studied church growth among the congregations in the U.S. for many years.
Sanders continues to report that each year the United States sees 4,000 new congregations started and 7,000 close their doors. Between 2000 and 2006 churches of Christ lost 69 churches. This is in spite of the fact we are the 12th largest group and have the fourth most congregations. When you consider that we lost only 69
churches out of a total loss of 42,000 nationwide, it is rather remarkable.
Truly the call by some leading “voices” in the church to change our doctrine or die is completely premature. This is not the time for discouragement about being a member of the Lord’s church. Rather it is a time to keep up the good fight of faith and to continue to dedicate ourselves to the unchanging message and never stop telling “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.” (Heb. 13:8)