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‘Are We Growing’ summary of articles

In January 2008, the Chronicle wraps up its yearlong series. 

A summary of the previous articles includes:

Part 1: Population outpaces church
The U.S. population is growing. And fast. The nation’s nearly 13,000 Churches of Christ – as a group – are not. In a nutshell, that’s the challenge facing a fellowship whose membership has increased only about 1.6 percent since the beginning of the Reagan era.

Part 2: Churches face ‘identity crisis’
Walk into most any McDonald’s and you have a good idea what’s on the menu. In a manner of speaking, Churches of Christ used to be that way. But no longer do all congregations look or worship exactly the same.

Part 3: Is there a rural-urban divide?
In the wake of urbanization, many small, rural Churches of Christ struggle to survive. At the same time, the population shift has served to accentuate differences and outright suspicions between often smaller rural churches and their frequently larger suburban and urban counterparts.
Part 4: Breaking the language barrier
Nationwide, the neighborhoods around Churches of Christ are becoming more dverse. But only about 3.4 percent of the nation’s nearly 13,000 Churches of Christ offer services in a language other than English.

Part 5: Are we losing our young?
In the U.S., about 45 percent of high school seniors abandon Churches of Christ after they leave home, a leading researcher says. Outside the Bible Belt, some ministers claim the figure could be even higher.
Part 6: Church planting the best hope?
From presentations at Christian college lectureships to specialized workshops across the nation, the concept of church planting has created a buzz. Actual domestic church planting among Churches of Christ, however, remains in the infant stage, experts say.
Part 7: Education as an outreach tool?
Christian schools find their hallways dotted not just with Church of Christ kids – but also with Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Llutherans and even Muslims, Hindus and Jews.

Part 8: Traits of growing churches
In states where Churches of Christ once seemed to be on every corner, membership is declining. But there is hope. Across the nation, some Churches of Christ have experienced significant growth in the past three to six years. The Chronicle asks church leaders about reasons for their growth, and one megachurch researcher offers ideas to help churches grow.

Filed under: Are We Growing Staff Reports

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