After reading two different posts on membership statistics in the Church of Christ (one by Alan Rouse and the other by Jay Guin) I thought I would toss my hat into the ring and crunch a few numbers. One of the problems you run into in looking at numbers like these is that it is really easy to compare apples and oranges instead of apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Another thing that is often not accounted for in these statistics is how well the membership numbers of the Church of Christ is tracking with general population growth trends of the United States at large. The following numbers are from two data sets, one from Kairos and one from US Census data.
1980 – 1,239,039 members in Churches of Christ in the U.S.
1990 – 1,280,178 members (+41,139, +3.32% increase since 1980)
- US Population growth 1980-1990 = +9.78%
- Projected CofC growth based on U.S. population growth 1980-1990 = 121,178
- Actual CofC growth 1980-1990 = 41,139 (3.32%)
- Difference = -80,039
2000 – 1,262,445 members (-17,733, -1.39% decline since 1990)
- US Population growth 1990-2000 = +13.15%
- Projected CofC growth based on U.S. population growth 1990-2000 = 168,343
- Actual CofC growth = -17,733 (-1.39%)
- Difference = -186,076
While the Church of Christ grew between 1980 and 1990 its growth is pretty weak when compared to the census figures of the country at large. The decline from 1990 to 2000 is even larger when seen in light of the enormous population growth the US had in that same period of time. Based on these numbers we are not growing in proportion to the population of the U.S. at large and need to invest heavily in domestic missions and church planting.