This study examines and evaluates possible relationships between a selected set of environmental factors and the rates of membership growth of selected Christian Reformed Church (CRC) ministries. As a result of this study a reliable analysis of church growth patterns in available to the denomination for planning and administrative purposes.
The subject population for this study consisted of the 136 congregations of the CRC organization in the United States and reporting in the fall of 1994. Data for the research was obtained from the electronic membership database maintained by the denomination’s General Secretary and normally published in the Yearbooks. Additional electronic data was obtained from the staff of Christian Reformed Home Missions (CRHM) and from the Christian Schools International.
Data analysis showed that local environments, as defined and measured in the research, can be associated with the rate of growth (size) of the subject congregations. The original set of seven tested environmental factors can be reduced to a list of three factors while retaining the ability to discriminate environments where an individual congregation was most likely to cross the 200-member mark.
The three environmental factors closely associated with a congregation that attained at least 200 members are: 1) a local CRC population of at least two thousand (2,000) individuals, 2) a local Christian Schools International affiliate school, and 3) sponsorship by a local CRC congregation. These conditions, when met by a subject congregation, were associated with approximately 75 percent success in crossing the 200-member mark. Congregations planted in environments where those conditions were not met averaged approximately 20 percent success.