22 Vital Stats for Ministry in 2022

22 Vital Stats for Ministry in 2022

Insights| Church Life & Ministry | Jan 5, 2022

By Aaron Earls


The start of the new year can feel exciting, but it can also seem overwhelming. Recent years have revealed how difficult it can be to prepare for the unknowns coming in the next 12 months. 

Still, there are some statistical realities we discovered in 2021 that can help us as we think about ministry in 2022. 


1. 91% of churchgoers said they plan to return 

At the beginning of 2021, more than 9 in 10 pre-COVID churchgoers said they planned to attend in-person services as much or more than they did prior to the pandemic when COVID-19 is no longer an active threat to people’s health, according to Lifeway Research. Recent variants have complicated the issue, and as of late last year, the average church is still missing 1 in 4 churchgoers. There are steps churches can take to recover the missing, but this reality is shaping up to be the primary issue for 2022. 


2. 1.5% of pastors leave the pulpit each year 

Despite widespread speculation that many pastors were quitting, Lifeway Research found the rate of pastor attrition remained statistically unchanged from 2015. That does not mean, however, that this season has been easy on pastors. Now, more say their role is frequently overwhelming.


3. 63% of Americans identify as Christian 

That marks a¬†15-point drop in the past 14 years¬†according to Pew Research, as 78% called themselves Christian in 2007.¬†The decline¬†of¬†Christians¬†in the U.S.¬†has been matched by a rise in the religiously unaffiliated. Their number has almost doubled since 2007‚ÄĒfrom¬†16%¬†to 29%.¬†


4. 41% of Americans say the Son of God existed before Jesus was born 

Most Americans (80%) agree Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, according to Lifeway Research, but half that believe the Son of God existed prior to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The 2020 State of Theology Study showed that 72% of Americans believe there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. However, Americans, including many churchgoers, remain confused about the Trinity and could use some help from their pastors. 


5. 1 in 6 young adults identify as LGTBQ 

Few American adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (5.6%), according to Gallup, but the numbers are much higher among younger generations (15.9% of Gen Z). Almost every Christian student will have an LGBTQ friend or classmate, so church leaders must speak on issues of sexuality with truth and love. 


6. 1 in 2 pastors say the economy is having no impact on their church 

Emerging from the pandemic, most churches don’t seem to be underwater financially, but many are treading water. 


Around half of U.S. Protestant pastors say the current economy isn’t really having an impact on their congregation, according to Lifeway Research. The 49% who say the economy is having no impact on their church marks the highest percentage since Lifeway Research began surveying pastors on this issue in 2009.