Preliminary results of the 2017 CRCNA Member Survey show that many respondents believe their congregations have become healthier in the past five years. The member survey will take place annually through 2020,

Other results include the following:

  • A solid majority of respondents say their congregation strongly encourages them to build relationships with one another (52 percent say this is “definitely true”).
  • The average age of members continues to climb and the proportion of households without children under 18 continues to rise.
  • From 47 percent of households having children in 1987, the share in 2017 was down to 30 percent. During the same time period, the share of households with children who had at least one child in Christian day school dropped from 87 percent to 57 percent.
  • There was a small increase in devotional practices such as praying privately, reading the Bible, holding family devotions, and having personal devotions.
  • Evening worship continues to decline, from 51 percent attending at least once a month in 1987 to 14 percent this year.

Respondents who report more frequent interactive worship experiences (storytelling, children’s sermons, personal testimonies, question-and-answer sessions, missionary reports) were more likely to report a healthier church.

A fairly small percentage of respondents said their congregation is “involved in the birth of new churches and discipling communities.” Just 32 percent said this statement is “mostly true” or “definitely true.”

In coming months, another group of over 200 churches will be contacted to participate in the 2018 survey. However, any church wishing to participate in the survey during the next data collection window (to be announced soon) may do so simply by using the materials available on the survey entry page at crcna.org/survey.

This year 216 churches were invited to recruit responses to the survey. (Other churches were also welcome to participate but were not formally asked to recruit.) The invited churches—designated as a "cohort"—represent approximately one-fifth of the denomination.

The annual surveys are being done as part of Our Journey 2020, the denomination’s new ministry plan that focuses on five desired futures: Church and Community, Discipleship, Leadership, Identity, and Collaboration. The CRC is working, in conjunction with congregations, to make continuous progress in each of these areas.

In sorting through survey results, the CRC will get a sense of what the strengths and challenges of local congregations are in light of the desired futures.

Visit CRC News to read the entire story on the survey.

About the Author

Chris Meehan is news and media relations manager for CRC Communications, and a member of Coit Community Church.