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How Much Space Do I Need?

Adding a Second Service

Church Growth and Visitation

The Unchurched In Your State

Growth Rates

Church Growth Basics

One of the most frequent questions asked is “What is the average growth rate of a church?” Eighty percent of the churches in America are not growing, and eight churches a day close in the United States and Canada. The most recent Annual Church Profiles for Southern Baptist churches in my home state of Florida reflect mostly declines, while some fourteen percent did not report any numbers at all. According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention reported 16,160,088 members for a decline of  nearly  half a percent (.42%).

These numbers we count are much more than statistics and tools--each number represents a person God knows, loves, and desires to have a relationship with. They also represent people missing out on that relationship with Jesus Christ.

Growth rates are an important part of the diagnostic tools we have in our church growth toolbox here at (Church Growth Associates), and I am going to show you how to figure your AGR. Part of developing your church growth strategies will be understanding growth rates. The AGR, (Annual Growth Rate) AAGR, (Average Annual Growth Rate) and DGR (Decadal Growth Rate) are all part of finding out “what” happened, and you should know, but we also need to find the “why” and “how” of it all.

How much growth does it take to grow a church? In church growth terms, a church is not growing unless it increases by five percent a year. On the other side, a church is not in a decline unless it is losing five percent a year. Everything in that ten percent window (five percent plus–and five percent minus) is considered a plateau.

What is the average worship attendance on any given Sunday for the churches in America? The median church in America has 75 in worship on any given Sunday morning, while less than half a percent become a megachurch (a megachurch is a congregation with at least 2,000 people attending worship on Sunday) and only 16% of megachurches have over 5000 in attendance. The chart included in the video at the top of this page shows how it breaks down.

The smaller a church is, the easier it is to achieve the five percent minimum growth rate. My home church, Idlewild Baptist Church, here in Tampa, has around 7500 in worship on any given Sunday. Growing five percent is a lot more work. You get the idea, and have a few thoughts already about your own church. It is not unusual for us to be able to double many of the churches that have 50 or less in worship in twelve months time. Most of the churches that have partnered with us and have a membership to our associate services are growing at a twenty percent AAGR. You can learn more about church growth on this website.

Now let’s look at these church growth tools and get started on the path to new church growth ideas, with old church growth principles. The AGR is used to tell us how much numerical growth has occurred from one year to the next, and what the trend will most likely be, if no changes are made.

Here at, we have weekly tracking and accountability for the churches we partner with, when it comes to worship attendance. We want to make adjustments as needed and not wait until the end of the year to figure out what went wrong (or right). Once you figure your AGR, I suggest you start tracking weekly also, if you do not already do so. I use attendance, so it can’t be said we have more members than there are people. Church membership is important, but attendance is a great measure of our effectiveness. You can use members for your calculations if you prefer just keep consistent with the formula from year to year.

Here is the easy formula to figure your church AGR. Subtract the earlier year’s average attendance, from the later year’s average attendance. Divide the answer you get by the earlier year. Multiply the answer you get by 100 to change the decimal to percent. The answer is your AGR.

Let’s give an illustration of this example. Gracious Church had an average attendance of 125 last year. This year Gracious Church had an average of 180 in attendance.

  1. Take this year’s average of 180 and minus last year’s attendance of 125 and see it equals an increase of 55 in worship.
  2. The increase of 55 divided by last year’s attendance of 125 equals .44.
  3. Multiply your answer (.44) by 100 to convert to percent and see that Gracious Church had a 44% AGR for the year.

Now go back for the last ten years, and get the AGR for each one. This will give you a look at the trend your church is on, and where it most likely will be in ten years if no changes are made. If you don’t have Microsoft Office or PowerPoint, you will find a link to OpenOffice, the free alternative,  in our library.

You can use the same formula as above to find your DGR if you desire, but I recommend working with the numbers from the past ten years. We use older history only when there are more questions that need to be answered. Ten years is sufficient in most cases.

This information is available as a PDF format download on our blog. Contact us to see how Church Growth Associates could help you with your strategies for church growth. Tell us your story, and see how we can help.

Here are the top growing denominations by reported membership in the United States (including the cults).

1. Jehovah’s Witnesses, the 20th largest denomination with 1,162,686 claimed members, was up 4.37 percent last year.

2. Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The 24th largest denomination in the U.S. with 1,043,606 claimed members, was up 4.31 percent last year.

3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormons) the 4th largest denomination with 6,058,907 members, was up 1.42 percent in claimed members for 2011. This number is skewed. In Mormon theology, membership is essential to get into heaven, and they are reluctant to drop a name from membership. I was not ex-communicated from Mormonism for preaching a different gospel than theirs until last year when a Bishop came to my door. You can read the details in the cult section of this website.

4. The Catholic Church, the largest denomination, claiming 68,503,456 members, was up .57 percent last year.

5. Assemblies of God, the 9th largest denomination claimed 2,914,669 members, up .52 percent.

6. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the 22nd largest denomination with 1,076,254 members, was up .38 percent.

Most of the largest denominations in the United States reported a decline in membership.

  1. United Church of Christ, 1,080,199 members, down 2.83 percent.
  2. The Episcopal Church, 2,006,343 members, down 2.48 percent.
  3. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2,770,730 members, down 2.61 percent.
  4. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,542,868 members, down 1.96 percent.
  5. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,310,505 members, down 1.55 percent.
  6. The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,312,111 members, down 1.08 percent.
  7. The United Methodist Church, 7,774,931 members, down 1.01 percent.
  8. Southern Baptist Convention,16,160,088 members, down .42 percent.







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…upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

—  Matthew 16:18