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The End of Wanderlust

Will fewer family moves produce more stable churches?

After five decades in a highly mobile culture, families are finally staying put. Blame the economy, in part. Fewer Americans are relocating for better jobs and bigger houses; in fact, fewer than half as many moved in 2009 as did in 1962.

Joel Kotkin calls this trend "localism," the desire to put down roots after decades of rootlessness that unsettled American society. As Kotkin writes in Newsweek, more homebodies "will eat in local restaurants, attend fairs and festivals, take their kids to soccer practices, ballet lessons, or religious youth-group meetings. This is not merely a suburban phenomenon; localism also means a stronger sense of identity for urban neighborhoods as well as smaller towns."

For church leaders, the question is how to plan for a drop in the "churn" rate, possibly producing fewer visitors, but more long-term members and leaders.

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