The latest research from Convergence.
Church Life During Covid-19 Report
From 5/21/20 to 6/20/20, Convergence conducted a survey among our client base which spans multiple denominations and geographies within North America, to assess the impact of Covid-19 on churches, specifically during the month of May 2020. The non-scientific sample of 70 North American Protestant church leaders responded to the survey after seeing it through email or social media communications from Convergence.
Pastor Turnover during Covid-19 Report
Leading through the Covid-19 pandemic changed the very shape of ministry for most pastors. For some, that precipitated at least a consideration of retiring or resigning from their current position.
Lessons From 2020 On How Churches Are Innovating During Covid-1 Report
A church in Rwanda used WhatsApp to connect with members and a money transfer app to process congregational giving. A church in Togo made fabric face masks for every member and began delivering food to those in need in the community. Members of a church in Scotland picked up food and medicine for those who couldn’t go to stores and focused outreach on those who lived alone. Here in the U.S., churches began pen pal programs, offered guided instruction on technology, used conference calls and organized parking lot worship to serve those with low technology skills or limited connectivity. A pastor of Hispanic Ministry at an Episcopal congregation outside Atlanta served as interpreter and application assistant when families needed to connect with government or nonprofit assistance with food, medicine, rent and other basic needs.
How Covid-19 Affected Church Finances Report
We know from denominational bodies and from research organizations such as Barna, Lifeway, and that giving has declined in a majority of Christian congregations during the first two months of Covid-19 impacting the US and its churches. By late March, churches were reporting decreases in giving when compared to the first two months of 2020. In one study of 434 pastors, 79% said giving was down, with 47% reporting significant decreases. As early as March 31, in one study, 52% saw decreased giving, and 30% declines of over 50%.
Churches and Vaccination Report
While all churches worked overtime during the last 15 months to adapt existing ministries to new realities, some churches responded to the pandemic by addressing brand new issues. Possibly the most impactful of these is the movement of churches all over the US to promote and provide vaccination to underserved populations, including their own congregants. Lower vaccination rates in some communities due to access issues and vaccine hesitancy limit the possibility of reducing Covid-19 to manageable levels.
2020 Declines in Membership/Attendance Report
In the newest polling by Gallup capturing religious trends in 2020, U.S. membership in faith communities was below 50% of those polled for the first time in the history of Gallup polling. This is not a new trend. The rate of membership in faith communities has been declining in the US for some time, which hovered around 70% when first measured in 1937 through the turn of the 21st century. However, this is a big milestone in the ongoing trend away from religious affiliation in our country.
Research and Recommendations: Finding transformation in times like these
Remember a few months ago when we were optimistic and making plans for a fall mostly free of pandemic worries? It was the closest thing to collective hope I had experienced in a long time. It was glorious. Now we are in the midst of yet another surge, all our plans are thrown into uncertainty and chaos, and our hope seems nowhere to be found. I am reminded of the disciples when their fishing boat was tossed by the storm. How can we stay afloat through yet another season of unexpected and unwanted change?
New Ministries Summary Report
A vibrant future for mainline Christianity depends, to a significant degree, on starting new ministries. That’s why the Ecumenical Partners in Outreach collaborated with Convergence to conduct the largest study of church planting activities in the major mainline churches of the US and Canada in this century.
That two-year study of 260 ministries has just been completed, and the results are telling. If you’ve been charged with starting a ministry, managing a ministry for your wider church body, creating a denominational group to support a new ministry or you simply want to know more about church planting, read on to discover what is out there and what is growing and what we’re learning.
"New Congregational Development in an Age of Narrow-Casting" Full Research Report
The Ecumenical Partners in Outreach surveyed 260 ministries started since 2006 from six old-line denominations in order to obtain an accurate description of new ministries in the 21 Century and to learn what factors might be important in helping them grow in attendance, and reach out to young adults and the unchurched. To help capture the variety of new ministries, three major types were studied, new congregations developed using a traditional model, ones developed using alternative models and aimed at seekers, and those developed among new immigrant communities.
This report includes our major findings.