The latest news from Faith Communities Today - with a new look and brand new research findings from over 4400 American congregations.
Our Newsletter is back - with new research findings for the New Year!

Happy New Year from all the researchers and staff at the Faith Communities Today project. A few days into January 2016 and you may still be struggling to keep those New Year's resolutions. You tell yourself, if I don't change I'll never lose those pounds, get fit, quit this bad habit or whatever is holding you back from achieving your best.
Perhaps it is time for more of America's congregations to be considering the same thing - to make some resolutions of their own regarding change. At least this is a key finding from our new report, American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving.   Willingness to change and openness to adaptation are strongly correlated to vitality, growth and the expectation to thrive into the future.
The new report, authored by David Roozen the director of the project and released today, includes 18 pages of significant findings in text and graphics. This is the first of several focused reports to be released in 2016 from the national survey of over 4400 U.S. congregations. These other reports will include a closer look at growth, young adult ministry, measures of vitality, and the use of technology.

Our newsletters this year will contain a diversity of information based on this 2015 study.
American Congregations 2015 offers an honest look at the overall patterns within the data, not all of it encouraging but most of it isn't entirely desperate either. What it does indicate is that the churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith communities in the United States must ask themselves if they are willing to change and adapt to the ever-evolving social context. Without this willingness to adapt and be innovative there is a great likelihood that these congregations will find themselves struggling in the coming decades.

 Check out the report for yourself.  And good luck with those New Year's resolutions!
An Excerpt From The Latest Report

David Roozen summarizes the important insights from our first 2016 research in the final pages of the report.  We offer them here as food for thought.

"Much of this report underscores the challenges and difficulties faced by the nation's congregations. Behind many of these trends - such as declining size, diminished spiritual vitality and fewer young adults - are reasons for concern. Perhaps chief among them is the necessity for change and stronger emphasis on innovation.
But the situation also calls for hope. As faith might have it, the survey's final question suggests a reason for hope. The question asked about a respondent's sense of their congregation's future [from
thriving, to doing okay to struggling, to not sure we will survive]. The answers are a helpful reminder that while the overall decline is a real and persistent reality, it is not the whole story. The cup of American congregations is still more than half full.
Almost a third of American congregations view themselves as thriving and another third see themselves as doing okay, with this likely to continue. Only one in ten see themselves as confronting a continuing struggle, and less than 3% are not sure of their survival.
Even if one discounts a potentially overly optimistic bias in faith-based organizations the numbers are hardly a message of imminent demise. Just as importantly this level of viability holds pretty much across the board, with the exception of congregations that are very small (under 50 average worship attendance) and those located in town and country settings. For these situations, the percent of congregations foreseeing continuing struggle in the future and concerned about survival roughly doubles.
The data also show that the lack of financial resources, as one might expect, is the primary driver of concerns about viability. Congregations that are in some or serious financial difficulty are more than three times more likely than more solvent congregations to see themselves struggling into the future or concerned about survival.
On the positive side, figure 38 shows yet another perspective on the current strength of racial/ethnic congregations [with nearly 40% of them "thriving" compared to just a quarter of white majority congregations]. And we conclude with a strong reminder about the decisive role of adaptive change for today's congregations. [60% of those congregations doing pretty or very well at changing identified themselves as thriving into the future compared to 27% doing okay, 7% struggling and 1% not sure they will make it]. In a rapidly changing world, thriving congregations are nearly 10 times more likely to have changed themselves than are struggling congregations."

Check out the full report  for more insightful analysis. 

Additional Resources From Our 2015 Study

Check out the excellent news story about our new report written by Cathy Grossman of the Religion News Service.
If you are really into data you can examine a copy of the Faith Communities Today 2015 survey with general frequency findings for each question.

Reports from some of the Faith Communities Today Partners:

The United Church of Christ 2015 findings are available in various forms at their Research Office website including: 
A webinar FACTS on UCC Congregations: Findings from the 2015 Faith Communities Today National Survey of Congregations. Click here to watch or download a PDF version of the webinar

And a few other resources for helping with Congregational Change:
Any effort in organizational change should begin with the works of John Kotter (professor at the Harvard Business School) including Leading Change, Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding under Any Conditions, A Sense of Urgency and The Heart of Change. He has an extensive YouTube channel of videos.
Building Church Leaders has numerous resources for tackling all aspects of congregational change (mostly from an Evangelical Protestant perspective). These resources can be found at    One of these resources, Changing your church without blowing it up, can be found at
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