There’s a surprisingly simple solution to the problem. We must all be turnaround pastors.

But you need to see the problem before the solution makes sense.


The Church in America is losing ground. Churches are failing to keep up with America’s surging population. We are fighting a rearguard action in the “culture wars” while many believers are beginning to suspect the situation is hopeless.

The majority of pastors are discouraged by their church’s meager results, defeated by ceaseless demands that prevent them from focusing on the real solution to their problem and disheartened by the prospect that they will be doomed to failure by forces beyond their control.

Despite heroic efforts by thousands of church planters and financial sacrifices by their hundreds of thousands of backers, we’re falling further and further behind every year.

Splash these cold statistics on your face.

  1. 90% – How far short we fall in the number of new churches needed just to keep up with population growth.[1]
  2. 330,000 – The number of Christian churches in America.[2]
  3. 3,205 – New churches needed each year to keep up with population growth.[3]
  4. 303 – Actual net gain in the number of churches each year.[4]
  5. 15.7% – Percentage of the population that attends an Evangelical, Mainline or Catholic Church each weekend. [5]
  6. 2% – How many evangelical believers witness to unbelievers each week, annually lead someone to Christ or are being personally discipled to make disciples.[6]
  7. 70% – The percentage of unchurched who have never been invited to church. Ever.[7]
  8. -5.5% – Year over year decrease in baptisms for 2012 among Southern Baptists.[8]
  9. +5% – The increase of worshippers over age 60 (from 25% in 1998 to 30% in 2007).[9]
  10. -5% – The decrease of worshippers under age 35 (from 25% in 1998 to 20% in 2007).[10]

Barring an epic revival sweeping across America’s spiritual landscape – and we all continue to pray it will happen – our best chance at keeping pace is to reverse the accelerating trend of churches closing their doors.

The only hope we have is to turn America’s pastors into turnaround pastors.

Up next: 5 Steps to Becoming a Turnaround Pastor

  1. David T. Olson, “The American Church in Crisis”, p. 120.  â†©
  2. C. Kirk Hardaway and Penny Long Marler, “How Many Americans Attend Worship Each Week? An Alternative Approach to Measurement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2005) 44(3), p. 307.  â†©
  3. Olson, p. 120.  â†©
  4. Ibid.  â†©
  5. Olson, p. 180.  â†©
  6. “15 Reasons to Change Our Disciple-Making” New Church Specialties Blog. Accessed January 21, 2014. Quoted from Thom Rainer, “The Unchurched Next Door.”  â†©
  7. Rainer, “The Unchurched Next Door.”  â†©
  8. This is a shocking statistic for one of America’s most reliably evangelical and most predictably growing denominations. “Number of SBC Churches Increased Last Year; Members, Attendance and Baptisms Declined” LifeWay. Accessed January 21, 2014.  â†©
  9. “American Congregations at the Beginnings of the 21st Century,” p. 9.  â†©
  10. Ibid.  â†©


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