Newsline

Newsline , Society

How One Church is Bucking the Trend of Declining Attendance

Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2024
|
by AMAC Newsline
|
35 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

Stained glass windows in small church with wood pews

U.S. church attendance continued its steady decline in 2023, failing to rebound much from pandemic lows. But in spite of this alarming national trend, some churches have nonetheless seen dramatic growth after the lockdowns were lifted.

One such church is Center Pointe Christian Church in West Chester, Ohio. Following the resumption of in-person services, attendance has soared to more than 150 percent of pre-pandemic highs. I interviewed lead pastor Shawn Spradling to learn more about what his church is doing to attract so many new families and be a light of truth in their community.

As Spradling explained to me, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Center Pointe. Attendance had been growing steadily for a number of years, and they had just embarked on an ambitious construction project to build a larger sanctuary. This entailed taking on a significant financial burden that they were counting on the generosity of their (hopefully) larger congregation to help shoulder.

“On the front end of COVID, I really didn’t think it would be long term. I thought maybe a week or two,” Spradling said. “As the pandemic lingered, I remember thinking, ‘Did we not hear the Lord correctly? Are we even going to need this new building? We’re certainly never going to fill it up.’”

As Spradling explained, he and many other church leaders began to have the feeling that in-person services would never be the same again. “That was the narrative all through 2020 – that you’re going to have to rethink church and do church differently.”

However, Spradling and Center Pointe’s leadership team didn’t buy into that narrative. They believed that there was still an urgent need for in-person worship, and that God would come through for their church because He had called them out in faith to expand. “To a man around the room, we all believed that God had called us to this,” he said. “He is leading us to build, so He must know something we don’t.”

The new sanctuary opened in August 2021, “and just as our finance team predicted, we came up $2 million short of our goal,” Spradling said. “But God was already working out the victory.”

“In December 2021, a couple from our church, longtime members, sold a business and donated a portion of the proceeds – $2 million. They had no idea that’s how much we needed. But God knew.”

After that, new families began pouring in to Center Pointe, and the church has thrived ever since. On Easter Sunday 2023, Spradling preached to a record crowd of over 3,000.

This story is indicative of how Spradling has led Center Pointe in all facets of its ministry. Rather than trusting in what the culture said about the irreversible decline of church attendance and how the pandemic would make things even more hopeless, Spradling and his leadership team trusted in God and stayed faithful to His will.

Similarly, Spradling has not bowed to the cultural forces which tell church leaders they must compromise what is in the Gospel in order to not offend or alienate anyone. Spradling is a bold defender of unborn life, the sanctity of marriage, and the gender binary, and shares the Biblical foundation of these truths with his congregation.

I asked Spradling specifically about the notion, popular in some Christian circles today, that if the church wants to survive it needs to either avoid hot-button issues like abortion or transgenderism which have become deeply political or succumb to the anti-Christian secularism which now dominates American culture.

“I don’t preach my opinion, I just preach truth,” Spradling responded. “I’m not going to just get up on stage and skirt around the issue. I might be uncomfortable with a text, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t preach the text. I have to work my way through it just like anybody else. I’ve tried to come at those issues head on while still being as loving as possible.”

“People desire authenticity, and they desire truth,” Spradling continued. “The narrative out there is ‘there is no truth you just make up their own.’ And for millennials and Gen Z especially, they’re saying ‘that doesn’t sound right to me.’”

As Spradling alluded to, most of the growth his church has seen has been in young families – millennial parents and Gen Z kids. Far from fleeing a church that adheres to traditional Christian values and an unapologetic defense of Biblical truth, young people are coming in droves.

I also asked Spradling for his opinion on why church attendance is down nationally, and what, if anything Christians can do to reverse that trend.

“I think beginning back in the 50s and 60s the church became very insular,” Spradling said. “The culture was shifting at a rapid rate, and the church didn’t know how to respond to that. And so, it just pulled inward. Not every church, but the church at large.”

“People on the outside lost trust in the church, and they just felt like they weren’t good enough,” he continued.

To start bringing church attendance numbers back up, Spradling stresses that it all comes back to focusing on following Jesus’s commandment to love people and make disciples. “Jesus didn’t tell us to go build the church, he told us to make disciples, and to love people.” Spradling said. “And so we just need to rethink and reframe what we’re all about and what we’re here to do. We’re not here to placate members, we’re here to be authentic.”

Finally, I asked Spradling why he is hopeful for the future of the church and Christianity in the United States.

“Well, Jesus said he would build his church, and that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it,” Spradling said. “And so the church can’t lose, ultimately. It’s engaging in some cultural battles and it’s getting punched and kicked a bit, but the church is triumphant. So, we are part of the winning team.”

“The victory has already been spoken over us,” Spradling concluded. “The tomb is empty.”

You can see a library of past sermons by Shawn Spradling here.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

The AMAC Action Logo

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now
Share this article:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
35 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary
Gary
11 days ago

These churches would teach chapter by chapter verse by verse taken back to the Hebrew, chaldea and greek manuscripts, people would flock to their Ministries people are starving for the word of God instead of traditions of man that make void the word of God fairy tales and traditions don’t cut the mustard . Amos chapter 8 there is a famine but not for bread but for hearing the word of God

Max
Max
11 days ago

Our church in west central Ohio has seen a 50% rise in membership. The church followed the Federal mandates for about 6 months and then said screw the government and the membership went back to normal services. Then began the steady rise of attendance and then some. It may have also helped that the county Sheriff and department refused to enforce any of the government mandates and allowed the Freedom to Worship.

Fred
Fred
11 days ago

The real reason for the decline is the church leadership, regardless of denomination, has been taken over by the woke communists. Wake up!

M L Hammond
M L Hammond
11 days ago

I believe the reformation of true church doctrine has to be the BIBLE. Having that in our hands to teach others the truth. In LOVE we must tell GODS truth so that he will protect our COUNTRY. Keep meeting because the People need the pulpit to align with Their true Father God for strength and Guidance. His truth is in his HOLY WORD.

Tracey Cooter
Tracey Cooter
11 days ago

My Church was less than 300 pre-covid and now over 3000. Easter was over 5000. He preaches the pure Word and no opinion. We are craving the Truth and responding. Praise God!

pjd
pjd
8 days ago

Too many churches – including the catholic pope – have embraced woke/left ideology. All of the beliefs/rules/dogma they stood by before the last few years; have been “adjusted” to comply with those woke concepts. A religion/church that does not stand by its foundational doctrine; but revamps to suit the threat of new trends – doesn’t have anything of real depth to offer. I think it is that very malleability of religious leaders that caused a lot of people to turn their backs. Who knows what tomorrow’s beliefs will encompass with them.

Lorne
Lorne
10 days ago

Great story how God works in His own way and in His own timing! We just have to ask and be patient, trusting in His wisdom!

herblady
herblady
9 days ago

Lord has orchestrated a move in my life. The new area I’m in, has a church that does not pass the offering plate prior to preaching. Pastor actually admitted there was no required tithe for the church. This is very true, the tithe is for the Jews and it’s well over 20% when you add in the festival of tents and so on. He didn’t say it was Jews only but at least he admitted is was not ordered for the church, that’s huge. Since many Church’s push 10% and the get wealthy if you tithe above and beyond, which is pure lies. Do I think members should support their church, yes, tho the church must be very frugal and pinch $$$ just like everyone else has to. This Crap of pastor lives the high life while the givers live on beans and water is Evil. I think the “Plandemic” has really divided the ‘Sheep’ from the ‘Goats’ and it will only become more clear as time passes. Stay away from these ‘clot’ shots, their pure poison.

Lonney Evon
Lonney Evon
11 days ago

Check out Riverland Baptist Church in Dunnellon, Florida. COVID hit 2weeks after opening their beautiful new sanctuary. Now attendance has soared.

Lea Wiggins
Lea Wiggins
9 days ago

you should also take a look at the Experience Community Church – just 14 years old and over 8000 members and debt free. They just teach the word of God Book by Book, Chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Nothing is out of context and nothing is left out because it is counter cultural. Plus they give over 30% of the entire budget back to the community supporting non-profits and individuals/families. Not to mention we have a brewery in the middle of our building. They had a lease there before we bought the building and we have let them stay. Experience Community Church in Murfreesboro, Tn is doing “church” right and God is blessing us.

Bernard
Bernard
9 days ago

God has gone out of the lives of millions in this country. Multiple Catholic grammar and high schools have closed in my area of the country. Churches of all denominations have been shuttered. I have sadly had to appraise many of these facilities. If Americans remain guided by hubris and hedonism, instead of God, there will be retribution which no one could have possibly anticipated. If men do not recognize that they are leaving the spiritual aspect of a human out of their lives, focused only on the physical and intellectual, they shall be “..weeping and gnashing of the teerth…”

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
9 days ago

A large (in square feet) church in a nearby city, designed by a world-renown architect, recently closed for good. At the time they had a lesbian “pastor.” Enough said!

Pastor Red N
Pastor Red N
11 days ago

Amen Brother. For too long we have been majoring on the minors

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
9 days ago

Meet Needs
Minister to Needs
Expand for needs
Teach, educate
Hands on
Functional teachings
Preach the Rapture coming ahead
Jesus met Needs NOT sermons

Frances
Frances
9 days ago

Thankful that I found a church near me that preaches the Word of God only and not mans word. We are out growing our church as people are hungry for the Word and are not getting it in other places.

L. L. Sterling
L. L. Sterling
9 days ago

excellent, keep up the good work.

Linda Meyer
Linda Meyer
9 days ago

Beautiful!

Carol
Carol
8 days ago

My Church is continuing to grow as young folks are searching for the truth! More young folks and families than before the pandemic! Jesus is the truth!!! Nothing the world has can compare to Him, the creator of all!!! The Churches that are losing attendance may want to check whether they are preaching Jesus or some leftist crap!

Gary Nichols
Gary Nichols
8 days ago

I like what Bro. Spradling had to say. He seems to be successfully combating what I call ‘Goody Two Shoes’ Christianity. He seems to be shining the light and I pray many other pastors will see and learn from his ministry.

Gary
Gary
10 days ago

I made a comment yesterday afternoon while I wonder why it never got posted

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
9 days ago

No offense to anyone but I could never believe in a metaphysical “kingdom” we all go to after death, I mean, assuming we “earned our way” into it. Especially, it being a MALE God! If he created all life, what sex does this especially if we’re created in “His image”? But then I don’t claim to KNOW… I could be wrong! Guess we’ll all ultimately find out!

AMAC’s Medicare Advisory Service
The knowledge, guidance, and choices of coverage you’re looking for. The exceptional service you deserve.
The AMAC App on 3 different iPhone
Download the AMAC App
The AMAC App is the place to go for insightful news wherever you are and whenever you want.
USDA Flag
Sam Johnson, official 109th Congress photo
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the inaugural convening of the White House Council
Biden Abandons Christians Abroad

Stay informed! Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

35
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Subscribe to AMAC Daily News and Games