An estimated 30,000 congregations shut their doors in the United States from 2006 to 2012. Yet a recent study finds good news for churches overall—including the lowest closure rate of any American institution.
According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998. A key reason: growth in nondenominational churches.
Using the National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted in 2006 and 2012, he estimates the number of congregations in the US increased from 336,000 in 1998 to a peak of 414,000 in 2006, but then leveled off at 384,000 in 2012.
Brauer’s estimate is more reliable—statistically speaking—than previous estimates that used other methodology; however, his model “relies on samples of individuals and not the organizations themselves,” so there is still a range of variation around the “best ...1