Let not your heart be troubled as you review our annual church survey report.
Your congregation may not be in the church-size category where you expect it. For some churches, it may appear, at first glance, as if your attendance has declined over the last couple years, even if it hasn’t. It may look like some megachurches and emerging megachurches have suddenly vanished or that many of their regular attenders have dropped out.
What’s going on?
While Christian Standard reported combined in-person and online attendance numbers the previous several years (which was especially significant during the pandemic), our 2021 charts show in-person attendance only. (Our survey did ask for online attendance figures, which we are using for statistical purposes, but not on our charts.) Megachurches and emerging megachurches were affected most by these changes.
Because of the many differences in how churches count online attendance, we believe that reporting those numbers may be meaningless or even misleading. We would like to include online attendance as a separate column in our annual report in the future, once we have a standard way of counting it. (Please see Kent Fillinger’s March/April Metrics column, “Authentic Online Church,” for his suggestions for how to count online attendance.)
Also, we believe that as the New Testament church, we must devote ourselves to “the fellowship,” which is a regular in-person gathering of believers and the full expression of church community. We want to count that!
See this issue’s Letter from the Editor for more information and explanations.
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Download the 2021_Church_Report.
I always like to see the locations spatially: