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-2011 Church Membership: No New Trends?

by Dr. D ~ February 15th, 2011

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Looking at the current figures submitted by the 25 largest church denominations in America there are few changes and no new trends to observe.

The Roman Catholic Church is holding its own with a .57 increase while all of the more liberal mainline Protestant denominations continue their decline: United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian U.S.A., Episcopal Church, American Baptist, UCC. Now the more conservative Lutheran Missouri Synod and Southern Baptist Convention had joined in the decline.

Meanwhile the two Pentecostal denominations which gave updated figures both continued to register increases: Assemblies of God and Church of God Cleveland. Also Seventh-Day Adventist Church showed one of the largest gains in membership along with 2 non-orthodox churches: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The largest 25 Churches (ranked by membership):

1. The Catholic Church, 68,503,456 members, up .57 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,160,088 members, down.42 percent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 7,774,931 members, down1.01 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6,058,907 members, up 1.42 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no membership updates reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc, 5,000,000 members, no membership updates reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,542,868 members, down1.96 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
9. Assemblies of God, 2,914,669 members, up .52 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2,770,730 members, down 2.61 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
13. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,312,111 members, down 1.08 percent.
14. The Episcopal Church, 2,006,343 members, down 2.48 percent.
15. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no membership updates reported.
16. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
18. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, no membership updates reported.
19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,310,505 members, down 1.55 percent.
20. Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,162,686 members, up 4.37 percent.
21. United Church of Christ, 1,080,199 members, down 2.83 percent.
22. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), 1,076,254 members, up .38 percent.
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,616 members, no membership updates reported.
24. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 1,043,606 members, up 4.31 percent.
25. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 1,010,000 members, down 59.60 percent (due in part to a new methodology of counting members).

Response: Unfortunately many of the top 25 were not forth coming with updated figures. Also Looking at the list 7 only gave out approximate numbers.

For years the trend among the top 25 showed all of the more ‘liberal’ churches in decline while the more ‘conservative’ denominations continued to grow.  This no longer seems to be the case.

One major trend in American Church membership which is not addressed by this list in any way is the continued growth of ‘non-denominational’ churches and church associations.  Many of the fastest growing ‘mega’ churches in America are not part of any formal denomination.          *Top

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