I am thankful to Len Wilson for compiling his Top 25 each year but even more grateful for his analysis of the statistics.
Here are a few statistics Wilson reported that I find very encouraging as a United Methodist:
1) 13 of the 25 have joined the list in the past two years! We have emerging congregations!
2) 5 of the churches on the list have been planted with the past 10 years! Our church plants are growing huge and well!
3) 9 churches have been able to stay on the list for three straight years. We have sustained growth!
4) 5 of the churches have reversed previous declines! We have turnaround churches!
5) 8 of our churches have averaged 9%+ growth for ten years! We have some powerhouse churches!
6) 5 emerging churches are poised to be on the list next year as they are projected to break 1000. We have up and coming churches!
7) The number of churches averaging over 2,000 per week in attendance over the past ten years has grown from 31 to 39! We are producing more sociological mega-churches!
8) 13 of the 25 largest churches in the UMC grew last year! We have growing flagship churches!
And this is just the good news concerning large churches, We have MANY more wonderful things happening in smaller congregations all over the country and great pastors doing transforming ministry! That is clearly a story that needs to be told as well!
I find this very, very good news and food for thought for a denomination that could use some good news as it envisions a way forward!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, IL since 1997