Although every church is unique, they all share a common goal: to bring more followers to Jesus. To achieve this goal, leaders must keep a pulse on church attendance trends, growth trends and the potential challenges that may arise in the future.
Let’s take a closer look at emerging trends in 2024 relating to member attendance, giving, growth, leadership and more.
Church Attendance Trends
Church attendance trends in 2023 continued to decline, falling to 30% from 34% in 2016-2019. Attendance has been steadily declining since the late 1990s. It is critical for churches to make it their top goal to increase attendance in 2024 and beyond.
But there is hope. With the emergence of hybrid worship models, increased community engagement and innovations in worship, attendance rates may begin to rise.
Emergence of Hybrid Worship Models
The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to online services that allowed members to continue worshipping even during lockdowns. As things returned to normal, churches once again opened their doors but continued to stream their services online.
Virtual participation continues to account for a large percentage of attendance. According to data from Pew Research Center, about a quarter of U.S. adults regularly watch religious services online. Most attendees are highly satisfied with the experience, so clearly, streaming is working for the church.
Community Engagement Beyond Sunday Services
Another one of the top church trends we’re seeing this year is community engagement beyond Sunday services. More congregations are staying connected with their members throughout the week, which is helping attendance remain steady and even grow.
How are churches staying connected with their members? They’re:
- Publishing new content on their websites regularly. A timely, weekly blog post will bring your church back to the forefront of your members’ minds.
- Using digital giving platforms to show members where their gifts are going.
- Developing apps to share events, groups and messaging tailored to their members.
By staying actively involved in members’ lives, churches can help preserve and even expand attendance rates.
Innovations in Worship Spaces and Environments
Worshipping spaces and environments have remained largely unchanged for centuries. In recent years, however, churches are rethinking how their spaces are laid out and how members interact with one another.
Today, worship spaces are becoming more inclusive. Electronic media is also becoming increasingly more integrated into these sacred spaces to keep members engaged no matter where they’re sitting.
Some churches are ditching traditional pews and rows for tables and chairs that help members stay closer together. The correct spacing between church chairs is important. Strategic ambient lighting can further help make the space feel more welcoming for members.
Innovations in worship spaces have gone a long way in improving attendance rates for many churches. Members look forward to gathering in these spaces, which gives them even more of an incentive to attend services and events.
Church Giving Trends
Those that do donate, however, tend to go above the 10% mark. We’re seeing a number of giving trends emerging in 2024.
One of the new church growth trends we’re seeing is the focus on social impact. More churches are making an effort to show their congregation how their gifts are being used to better the community and the lives of those in need.
Highlighting the church’s social impact helps encourage giving because members want their donations to be put towards good causes.
Creative Fundraising Strategies
Creative church-giving trends are also becoming popular because giving is down. You’ll find plenty of options where churches are fundraising in new ways:
- Live streams
- Virtual events
- Annual giving pledges
- Memorial gifts
Of course, you’ll also want to incorporate growth trends into your plan for 2024
Church Growth Trends
Church attendance trends are down (more on that below), and even with the proper growth strategies, over 50% of sanctuaries are experiencing a decline. A few of the things that churches will need to do in 2024 are:
Leadership Development for Sustainable Growth
Leadership is one of the current church trends that will remain for the foreseeable future. Pastors are one of the main areas of focus because:
- 38% are at least thinking of quitting
- 85% focus only on reaching the “lost” people
And one issue that resonates with would-be and current members is that less than half of pastors are focusing on doing what the bible says to do. Unfortunately, pastors are also overworked, with 90% working 55 – 75 hours a week.
Working on church leadership and focusing on the teachings of the bible is one of the growth trends that must be added to every sanctuary’s growth strategy.
Incorporating Art, Music, and Technology
One of the fun church trends is the introduction of the arts into a sanctuary. For example, some of the fastest growing trends include:
- Art being in the community. Self-expression helps bring younger members into the church and is a great means of helping get children excited about church.
- Music and singing are major components of modern churches. You’ll find plenty of “hip” churches that sing the gospel together.
- Technology is also allowing more members to enjoy going to church in new, exciting ways. Larger sanctuaries are accompanied by large screens that help a pastor have their voices heard even with massive crowds.
Churches are used to catering to older church members, but as younger members fill the space, it’s becoming clear that it’s time to breathe new life into congregations using the three elements above.
Creating Inclusive Spaces for Diverse Congregations
Inclusive spaces allow for congregations to be diverse. You can – and should – integrate church chairs into your sanctuary. Chairs are becoming more popular than pews because they allow you to rearrange your space quickly and easily.
If you need to make space for accessibility reasons, you can simply move the chairs out of the way.
You can also create spaces for:
- Bible study
- Family groups
- General groups
Pews of the past are still popular seating options, yet the flexibility of interconnecting chairs that link together like a pew offers more function.
Building Relationships through Service Projects
Trends in the church today focus heavily on building relationships through service projects. Integrating deeply into the community with service projects allows members to feel like they’re giving back and working towards a purpose to better their community.
Challenges and Future Church Trends in 2024
What does the future hold for church trends? Worship challenges are going to remain, especially stability. A survey from 2023 found that “stability” in membership is not certain, with nearly 90% of respondents saying that they’re experiencing either rapid growth or declines.
Only 12% of respondents reported that their church membership was stable.
And over 50% of churches are either moderately or rapidly declining, which is a growing problem. Churches will need to find ways to:
- Maintain attendance in this changing environment
- Create a community
- Fulfill your mission
Churches must also go digital, finding ways to attract church members who may never come to the sanctuary in person.
Future church trends are going to focus heavily on attendance and finding ways to maintain growth, while 37% of members are not giving money to their sanctuaries. You’ll need to deal with the challenges of today while focusing on growth strategies.