Top Trends of Growing Churches in 2023 Based on Research

The top five trends of growing churches highlighted by The Unstuck Group's latest study.
The Apollos Project

The Unstuck Group released its Q1 2023 report, providing a snapshot of the latest church trends in the United States and around the world. The report is based on data from 349 churches with an average attendance of 695 people (ranging from 100 to 7,000 attendees).

Below is a brief summary of the top survey findings that will impact churches and leaders in the year(s) ahead.

Majority of churches report an increase in church attendance

While we continue to recover from the worst of the pandemic, one of the most encouraging signs is the number of churches that are growing again. According to the study, four out of five churches have reported growth in attendance over the last 12 months and the average in-person attendance increased by 22%.

Below we’ll cover some notable highlights of growing churches compared to those that are plateauing or declining.

Top five trends of growing churches in 2023

The study reveals key insights into the trends of growing churches over the past year. While the study does not suggest that any of these attributes directly cause growth or decline, it provides insights that can help churches make better decisions about the future of their ministry.

Here are five trends related to growing churches:

1. Investing in small groups

Growing churches are more likely to have small groups and more people connected to those small groups, while declining churches are more likely to have Sunday school.

2. Guiding attendees to follow Jesus

People making decisions to follow Jesus by indicating salvation, baptism, etc. increased by nearly 34% over the past year. The study found declining churches have fewer people making decisions to follow Jesus or getting baptized.

3. Connecting with new people rather than “insider-focused”

Churches that reported a growth year also reported a 7% average increase in the number of new people engaging with their church over the past year. Declining churches have far fewer first-time connections to the church indicating that they’ve become insider-focused.

4. Providing engaging online services

Growing churches have a higher percentage of people engaging with online services.

"If you are looking for a benchmark for online service views, you may want to match what growing churches are experiencing. Growing churches, on average, have two online service views for every five people attending physical service gatherings. Again, don’t miss this. Churches that are experiencing attendance growth at their physical service gatherings have more people watching services online. This seems to confirm that online is one of the new front doors to the church." – Tony Morgan, Founder & Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group

5. Attracting young families with kids or students

From 2022 to 2023, children’s ministry attendance increased by 25%. This suggests that the increase in overall attendance can largely be explained by more younger families with kids coming back to church. Additionally, student ministry attendance (all students in sixth through twelfth grades) increased by 31% for in-person gatherings.

To read more about the survey findings, we encourage you to download the entire Q1 2023 Unstuck Church Report here.

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