For church growth, is biblical soundness enough?

For church growth, is biblical soundness enough?

For church growth, is biblical soundness enough?

An "ecumenical voice" for transparency, renewal, and historic Christian teaching within churches and society has some theories for why only four Christian denominations are growing.

As Americans have returned to church since the COVID lockdowns, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Assemblies of God, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and non-denominational evangelical churches have added members. The other mainlines, however, including the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), are losing them.

Researcher Ryan Burge recently tweeted the "sober news" that while Anglican congregations in North America welcomed 42,091 new members last year, other denominations collectively lost 1.27 million.

In a related blog post, Jeff Walton of The Institute for Religion and Democracy writes that Anglican congregations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico reported a significant attendance increase in 2022.

Among the numerous factors at play, the churches that are ministering to immigrant communities are doing especially well.

Walton, Jeff (The IRD) Walton

"They are reaching immigrant populations that are new arrivals," Walton says. "This is especially the case with East Asian communities with the Presbyterian Church in America. Now, there is widespread growth across the Assemblies of God, but it is much more pronounced among the Spanish-speaking communities."

Meanwhile, the ACNA is appealing to younger Christians who want a grounding in tradition and the so-called communion of saints.

"I meet people, anecdotally, who are drawn to liturgical prayers, order, structure, and are basically asking for something that is more than a TED Talk with a rock concert," Walton relays.

As for the Southern Baptist Convention, remaining mostly theologically sound is not enough.

"Theological orthodoxy is not in itself sufficient for church growth, although it is a prerequisite for growth," he asserts.

Instead of turning to the SBC, many evangelical Christians are finding the same church without the current angst going through the denomination.

"If you walk into an SBC church, or you walk into probably about 80% of non-denominational churches in this country, you're not going to see any difference between them," Walton submits.

The ACNA is among the earlier U.S.-based denominations to provide a complete report of 2022 statistics, following the Presbyterian Church (USA) in May. The Episcopal Church customarily reports statistics for the prior year in the autumn.