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How do you measure growth in a church? Are attendance and budget the only reliable indicators?

Not in my rural church. We were getting better in many ways, but bigger? Only barely. It got me thinking about alternative ways to measure the growth of a church. Here are some critical factors.

Decreasing average age. During my first year in a rural yoked parish, one church member commented, "We may not be growing, but at least we're staying about the same as we've been for the last thirty years." She was more right than she realized. Attendance was the same as thirty years ago, literally. The same people attended every Sunday, only they were all thirty years older. There were no resident members under thirty years of age. Today one-quarter of the members are under thirty.

In some churches, the average age of the congregation is so high that even though the pastor is helping to attract new people, overall numerical growth will be slim due to illnesses and funerals among the membership. Such a ...

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