America has always been a nation of settlers: nomads longing for roots, but always believing that there's a better place to put them down just over the next ridge. The frequency and distance of American migration has usually been economically beneficial—contributing to upward mobility, and the geographical exchange of culture and ideas.

But that's changing, as habits of migration steeply decline.

"In the early 1950s, about 3.5 percent of all American households moved from one state to another in any given year. This proportion held up through the 1970s, and then started to fall around 1980. By 2006 interstate migration had dropped to 2 percent, and by 2010 to just 1.4 percent, or less than half the rate of the early 1950s. The latest available data, for 2011-12, shows interstate migration still stuck at a mere 1.7 percent. Though it may not square with our national self-image, America today is a nation of people who tend to stay put, with a population that is no more mobile than that of Denmark or Finland."

What does this mean for church leaders? The trend likely means that you'll have a more rooted, less transient congregation … but one that will likely earn less, and benefit less from the cultural polishing of diverse contexts.

Research  |  Trends
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