Thank you, Facts & Trends readers for making 2017 our best year yet. We are excited to continue bringing you relevant content designed to help leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church and culture.
Next, we will share the 10 articles our staff selected as our favorite stories this year. Now, here are the 10 most read articles from 2017. Three stories appear on both lists.
The most Bible-minded city in America also happens to be the city that shows up most to church.
According to Barna Research, Chattanooga, Tennessee, has the highest percentage of its population who are very active in church. Almost 6 in 10 residents (59 percent) are regular churchgoers.
For six of the last seven years, the American Bible Society has named Chattanooga the nation’s most Bible-minded city. This year, it was the only American city where at least half the population was classified as Bible-minded.
America is full of sinners—and most of them want to mend their ways.
Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say they are sinners, according to a new study from Nashville-based Lifeway Research. Most people aren’t too happy about it—only 5 percent say they’re fine with being sinners.
As America becomes more secular, the idea of sin still rings true, said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.
“Almost nobody wants to be a sinner,” he said.
good reason. The Sunday sermon is the best opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of the most people.
Yet there are many other reasons to intercede on behalf of the shepherds of the Lord’s congregation. Here are 10 reasons to be in prayer for your pastor.
So, you’re a youth pastor, and you’re talking to your teens about a Very Important Topic.
A few might be making eye contact with you, maybe even taking an occasional glance at that nifty PowerPoint you stayed up all night putting together. But most have their heads bowed—not in prayer, but glued to that little glowing screen in the palms of their hands.
The good news is that many of them really are paying attention. Many of the kids in Generation Z—those born since the mid-1990—are proficient multitaskers. They can talk on the phone while texting a friend while posting on Instagram while watching TV while doing their homework while … you get the point. They’re wired in all directions—including into you and your presentation—so they’re engaged and totally getting it.
The bad news is that for each of those kids, there are likely just as many who aren’t tuned in to your lesson because Z’s are easily distracted by that same little glowing screen in their hands. Few things are calling out to them more loudly than their smartphones with their addicting apps and social media feeds.
Often churches obsess over finding a charismatic leader, developing the right children’s programs, or having the perfect music. Most church attenders, however, say sermons are the primary reason they choose a congregation.
And not just any sermons, but sermons focused on the Bible.
Gallup asked those who attend a place of worship at least monthly the reason for choosing that place. Three-quarters of religious-service attending Americans (76 percent) say sermons that teach more about Scripture were a major factor.
I needn’t have worried. As soon as we walked out onstage, people began applauding. Some were weeping; most were cheering us on.
It was as though just showing up was already a victory. The applause lasted for several minutes.
I wanted to speak to the audience before performing any songs. “I don’t know how far we will get,” I said. “I don’t know how this will go. But this is what we are choosing.”
What do you need to know about the kids in Generation Z? Here are some of the most important things.
1. They’re everywhere. Gen Z—those born between 1996 and 2014—makes up 24.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to U.S. Census estimates for 2016. That’s more than millennials (22.1 percent), more than Gen X (19 percent), and more than baby boomers (22.9 percent). By 2020, The Washington Post says, Z’s will have about $3 trillion in purchasing power.
What’s on the menu at your church?
Churches and restaurants are two very different worlds. A recent news story about Chili’s restaurant chain, however, highlights a problem many churches face—and possibly provides a solution.
Chili’s president, Kelli Valade, says the restaurant “chased consumer trends.” The result? A bloated menu and poor food quality. When trendy food items found success elsewhere, Chili’s made its own version. In losing sight of its identity, the restaurant hurt its brand.
But Chili’s is making a bold move—it’s cutting 40 percent of the menu. Some customers will lose their favorite item. However, Chili’s knows its long-term success and sustainability depend on maintaining its identity and executing what it can do well.
Unfortunately, like Chili’s, many churches have been guilty of “chasing consumer trends” by copying other churches’ ministries. They have a bloated menu of ministries, some of which don’t have the needed volunteers, leadership, or resources and don’t serve the church’s larger mission.
As the average pastor grows older in America, churches say they are struggling to find young Christians who want to become future pastors, according to a new study from Barna Research.
Today, half of American pastors are older than 55. In 1992, less than a quarter of pastors in the U.S. (24 percent) were that old.
Pastors 65 and older have almost tripled in the last 25 years, from 6 percent to 17 percent.
Meanwhile, pastors 40 and younger have fallen from 33 percent in 1992 to 15 percent today.
Too many songs. Not enough singers. That’s the problem facing many congregations these days, says Tony Payne, veteran worship leader and associate professor of music at Wheaton College.
Whether a church plays hymns or the latest worship songs, fewer people want to sing along, he says. “There are a lot of people standing there mute during worship.”
Congregational singing has long been a staple of Protestant churches, ever since the Reformation, when “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was the latest hit worship song. And today churches have more songs to choose from than ever before.
Yet Payne and other veteran worship leaders worry congregational singing is on the decline.