from GCFA Staff Reports
The staff of the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church (GCFA) recently completed their audit of the year-end 2010 statistical data for local churches in the United States. Despite The United Methodist Church’s decline in membership and attendance in the United States, the Church continues to show significant generosity and mission engagement.
The statistics as reported by local churches and annual conferences indicate that professing membership in 2010 was down 1.4 percent compared to 2009 numbers, and average worship attendance was down 2.3 percent. In 2009, membership and attendance decreased 1.2 and 1.9 percent respectively from the year previous.
Scott Brewer, assistant general secretary for Connectional Services at GCFA, noted that, while 140,295 persons were received in United Methodist churches on profession of faith or faith restored, only 54 percent of churches reported receiving any members by profession of faith or faith restored. Those totals are down from a little more than 58 percent in 2005.
“Amid some of these worrisome trends, we continue to have strong signs of life in our churches,” Brewer said. “We need to understand and accept the reality of our numbers, but we also need to remain people of hope. As we work to answer the call to be more vital disciples in more vital congregations, it is important to remember that God is not finished with us yet.”
GCFA saw several positive trends in small group ministries and local church giving. The number of Christian formation participants in local churches increased 4 percent from 2009, while reported participation in covenant discipleship groups increased nearly 11 percent, and enrollees in vacation bible school increased almost 6 percent. Local churches in the U.S. reported serving more than 1.1 million persons through daycare and education ministries, and nearly 26.3 million persons through ministries of outreach, justice and mercy.
Some more points of interest include:
More data can be found on GCFA’s website at http://www.gcfa.org/data-services. Additional information related to the statistics of the denomination will be reported in the Connectional Table’s State of the Church Report later this year.
- Total spending in the local church declined 0.92 percent from 2009.
- Local church capital expenditures declined nearly 8 percent, while spending for all other categories increased by 0.67 percent.
- Non-apportioned giving to mission increased more than 10 percent from the previous year.
- Direct giving to United Methodist-related causes increased over 29%, while direct giving to non-United Methodist causes declined by almost 4 percent.
- Giving in 2010 to the Advance, which includes contributions to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), was more than $44.9 million, which is an increase of 146 percent from the previous year. This was due in large part to contributions to Haiti following the devastating earthquakes in 2010. “In times of great need, such as the devastation caused by natural disasters, we have seen United Methodists respond with tremendous generosity,” said Laura Chambers, Senior Researcher at GCFA.