The state of the Church in Louisiana
I recently came across some insightful statistics from the American Church Research Project, compiled by David T. Olson of the Lausanne Movement (see www.theamericanchurch.org). They seek to answer the question “How many people really attend church in Louisiana every week?” Here’s what they found:
- 27% of Louisiana residents attend a Christian church on any given Sunday (regular attenders are those who attend 3 out of 8 sundays), including Catholic, mainline, and evangelical. This is #1 in the nation. The national average is 17.5%, down from 20.5% in 2000. What about Barna and Gallup saying that 45% attend. Olson calls this the Halo Effect – people over inflate their participation in activities that create acceptability within their social group. For example, in 1996, 58% claimed they voted in the presidential election but only 49% actually did. Olson’s stats come from actual attendance counts, not cold calls to people who are answering questions based upon what they think they should do and what makes them look good.
- Attendance at Christian churches declined 5.8% in Louisiana from 2000-2005. (.6% in evangelical churches, 6% in mainline churches, 12.1% in Catholic churches)
- Every denominational group except Pentecostals decline in attendance from 2000-2005. (Baptist .1%, Methodist 2.2%, Lutheran 17.6%, Catholic 12.1%)
- There was a net gain of 25 churches in Louisiana between 2000-2005. However a net gain of 81 churches were needed to keep pace with population growth.
The research also reports on individual parishes. I’ll mention some stats on St. Tammany, the one in which I reside:
- 23% of the population of 230,000+ attend a Christian church on any given weekend (9.5% evangelical, 2.8% mainline, 11.0% Catholic).
Personal Observations: We have a lot of work to do if we desire to reach our population and transform lives, families, communities, states, and nations. New churches should be a part of a comprehensive plan to get people plugged into our churches, but more importantly to get church people plugged into the communities and the lives of 72% of people not attending a church and are most likely not in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Find more info about other states and the US as a whole at www.theamercianchurch.org.
Also see some other finding from the study here.