U.S. Church Attendance 1990-2010

As mentioned in previous posts, religion and funeral practices in the U.S. are related, although who influences whom in the relationship is not always clear. People who work in or comment on the funeral business have noted changes in customer preferences that seem to be influenced by religion, and surveys of customers have also noted different attitudes toward funeral options among those with different religious beliefs.

Changes in American religion, therefore, seem worth discussing. Among the most interesting of the changes have been in church participation.

During the past few decades, churches that occupied dominant roles in American culture for a century or longer saw their participation drop steadily while others rose to numerical prominence. If we look at rates of change the trends are dramatic.

Let’s start with the big picture:

From 1990 through 2010 (year of the last comprehensive survey), the U.S. added 11,269 congregations, bringing 5,755,745 new adherents, for a total increased church membership of 7%.

In a secularizing world, it seems pretty impressive that we have such a big, rising tide of faith here in America.

The picture is not so simple, however.

First, as you can see on the graph, some groups have increased while others have decreased.

More illuminating, perhaps, is the data detail, below, for that 7% rising tide:

The observant reader will notice a trend here. We will explore that trend in future posts.

Reported increase in U.S. adherents, 1990-2010
Religious Body Type Congregations Adherents %Change
Evangelical Presbyterian Church Evangelical Protestant 153 84,172 185.10%
Evangelical Free Church of America Evangelical Protestant 424 175,494 96.60%
U.S. Mennonite Brethren Evangelical Protestant 56 19,831 89.70%
International Pentecostal Holiness Church Evangelical Protestant 505 131,747 83.50%
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches Evangelical Protestant 20 4,071 79.50%
Ch. of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Other 4,393 2,603,762 73.50%
Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) Evangelical Protestant 1,104 414,918 59.70%
Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection Evangelical Protestant -21 1,505 59.60%
Missionary Church Evangelical Protestant 120 23,827 59.60%
Christian and Missionary Alliance Evangelical Protestant 181 156,856 57.70%
Converge Worldwide/Baptist Gen. Conf. Evangelical Protestant 306 92,226 54.90%
Presbyterian Church in America Evangelical Protestant 569 120,039 54.20%
Ch. of the Lutheran Brethren of America Evangelical Protestant -4 8,902 50.00%
Beachy Amish Mennonite Churches Evangelical Protestant 6 4,068 49.40%
Church of God in Christ, Mennonite Evangelical Protestant 78 5,905 47.10%
Conservative Cong. Christian Conference Evangelical Protestant 120 15,107 42.40%
Pentecostal Church of God Evangelical Protestant -70 33,958 37.30%
Assemblies of God Evangelical Protestant 1,109 783,277 36.20%
Seventh-day Adventist Church Evangelical Protestant 1,451 291,934 32.30%
Free Methodist Church of North America Evangelical Protestant -88 24,505 29.60%
Foursquare Gospel, Intl. Church of Evangelical Protestant 378 66,671 26.10%
Old Order River Brethren Evangelical Protestant -1 105 20.40%
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ Evangelical Protestant 55 239,972 19.80%
Apostolic Christian Church of America Evangelical Protestant 9 3,500 17.70%
Unitarian Universalist Assoc. of Cong. Other 57 21,413 11.30%
Catholic Church Catholic -1,852 5,541,889 10.40%
Church of God of Prophecy Evangelical Protestant -358 6,546 7.10%
North American Baptist Conference Evangelical Protestant 18 3,209 5.90%
Reformed Church in the United States Evangelical Protestant 8 201 5.40%
Southern Baptist Convention Evangelical Protestant 12,894 955,597 5.00%
Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches Evangelical Protestant 3 32 1.50%
Church of the Nazarene Evangelical Protestant -111 5,526 0.60%
Christian Reformed Church in N. America Evangelical Protestant 89 -2,160 -1.00%
Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) Evangelical Protestant -211 -7,123 -3.10%
Wesleyan Church Evangelical Protestant -43 -9,689 -3.70%
Churches of God, General Conference Evangelical Protestant -22 -2,168 -5.20%
Churches of Christ Evangelical Protestant -513 -96,851 -5.80%
Intl. Pentecostal Church of Christ Evangelical Protestant -16 -346 -8.40%
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Evangelical Protestant 41 -37,045 -8.80%
Evangelical Lutheran Synod Evangelical Protestant 3 -2,232 -10.40%
Schwenkfelder Church Evangelical Protestant -1 -336 -11.10%
United Methodist Church Mainline Protestant -3,915 -1,230,379 -11.10%
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Evangelical Protestant 20 -332,804 -12.80%
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Protestant 102 -6,010 -15.80%
American Baptist Churches in the USA Mainline Protestant -558 -313,159 -16.70%
Reformed Church in America Mainline Protestant -53 -67,812 -18.70%
Brethren Church, The (Ashland, Ohio) Evangelical Protestant -11 -3,071 -18.80%
Seventh Day Baptist Gen. Conf US Canada Evangelical Protestant 13 -1,271 -19.70%
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Mainline Protestant -1,066 -1,045,579 -20.00%
Episcopal Church Mainline Protestant -539 -493,379 -20.20%
Church of the Brethren Evangelical Protestant -89 -40,000 -21.40%
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Mainline Protestant -410 -251,981 -24.30%
National Assoc. Free Will Baptists Evangelical Protestant -176 -75,888 -25.90%
Moravian Church in America S. Province Mainline Protestant 1 -5,532 -26.00%
Cumberland Presbyterian Church Evangelical Protestant -77 -24,080 -26.40%
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Dioc. Orthodox 10 -4,153 -28.40%
Church of God General Conference Evangelical Protestant -4 -1,528 -28.50%
Church of the United Brethren in Christ Evangelical Protestant -62 -7,490 -29.10%
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Mainline Protestant -946 -1,101,355 -31.00%
Nat. Assn. Cong. Christian Churches Mainline Protestant 1 -32,361 -32.70%
Mennonite Church USA Evangelical Protestant -580 -67,847 -34.80%
Moravian Church in America–N. Province Mainline Protestant -14 -10,964 -35.10%
Midwest Cong. Christian Fellowship Evangelical Protestant -5 -667 -35.50%
United Church of Christ Mainline Protestant -1,035 -709,163 -35.60%
Evangelical Congregational Church Evangelical Protestant -27 -12,574 -37.90%
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch Orthodox 3 -14,295 -47.70%
Moravian Church in America–Alaska Prov. Mainline Protestant 1 -2,689 -50.40%
Armenian Apostolic Ch. (Cath. Cilicia) Orthodox 15 -42,770 -58.30%
Cong. Christian Churches, Additional Mainline Protestant -169 -28,269 -77.10%

Source: ARDA U.S. Membership Report, 1990-2010 http://www.thearda.com/rcms2010/r/u/rcms2010_99_us_name_1990_ON.asp

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