Evangelical Churches Growing
Religious Census Shows Mixed Results for Churches in Minnesota
Evangelical denominations increase by 140 churches and 65,000 followers since 2000.
A report issued earlier this month by ARDA of a religious census taken every 10 years shows that while Minnesota’s population grew by 8% in the past decade the number of Christians actually declined by 7%.
But within that number, a Star Tribune analysis of the census results noted that Catholic and Mainline Protestant churches have seen signficant membership declines while nondenominational and evangelical churches have seen membership growth and an increase in congregations.
Carl Nelson, President of Transform Minnesota notes that one of the reasons evangelicalism has grown is the emphasis that denominational leaders have placed on starting new churches. “Many evangelical leaders acknowledge the best way to reach new people … is to begin new churches. Established congregations have a more difficult time of reaching new people.”
7 of the top 10 religious traditions that experienced net growth in the past 10 years were evangelical denominations (increase of 64,000 members since 2000) that led the way in starting new congregations (a net increase of 104 churches across 7 evangelical denominations).
Nelson also observed that while Americans in general attend church less often and are leaving Christianity, evangelicals’ teachings that Jesus is who he said he is, and adherence to the Bible as the Word of God is resulting in more followers of Jesus. Evangelicals’ emphasis on teaching an active, personal faith in Jesus that results in a life-style of compassion and service to the common good, combined with preaching that emphasizes Biblical truth and a focus on the supremacy of Christ Jesus is clearly producing spiritual fruit.
Membership Growth From 2000 to 2010
Assemblies of God
|Converge / Baptist General Conference||15,913|
|Christian & Missionary Alliance||9,723|
|Evangelical Free Church of America||7,854|
|Evangelical Covenant Church||4,224|
|Conservative Congregational Christian Churches||2,008|
Other factors noted in the Star Tribune analysis of the census were:
- Minnesota had 1.15 million Catholics in 2010, down 8.7 percent from 1.26 million in 2000.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Minnesota’s second largest denomination, saw membership sink to 737,537, a 13.6 percent decline from 853,448.
- Evangelical Protestants (including 130,263 attenders of Non-denominational churches) totaled 744,910 followers.
The ARDA report acknowledged that it lacked accurate data about attendance and number of congregation for Black Protestant churches.
The ARDA census included members and people who regularly attended the church. Another organization, the American Church Report, uses actual church attendance (and not membership rolls) to measure church growth or decline. That report (linked here) shows that 8% attended an Evangelical church, 7% attended Catholic church and 6% attended a Mainline Protestant church (and included Black Protestant as Evangelical).