“There is one number in our denomination that keeps going up,” observed Michael Coyner, a United Methodist bishop in Indiana and president of his church’s national Board of Discipleship. “It is the percentage of churches that did not receive even one person as a new member by profession of faith.”
That number rose to 43 percent of the 35,000 congregations in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination in 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Both Coyner and Karen Greenwaldt, the top executive of the discipleship agency, cited that figure at a mid-March board meeting in Nashville. Congregations in that 43 percent “are in real trouble,” Greenwaldt said, pointing to their accompanying decline in membership, attendance and contributions.