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I saw this article over the holidays, and it confirmed what I’ve been hearing from both Thom Rainer and those within the church construction business.

Church construction is slowing. Dramatically.

After a decade above $9 billion in annual value as an industry, church construction has declined over the past decade to a low of #3.7 billion. So what does this mean for churches? I see three initial takeaways:

  1. Churches are still building, just building differently. Renovation of empty strip mall anchor spaces and existing spaces are much cheaper for new churches or growing churches than building large campuses. Multi-site churches are still adding campuses, but not in the same way that they would have 15 years ago. Instead of building new satellite venues, they are acquiring existing churches or dormant retail spaces and retrofitting them. This is still a form of construction, but a much cheaper option.
  2. It’s easier to add another service than another building. Why spend $20M on a new worship center when you can add a third or fourth service? When space was an issue in the past, the immediate solution was to build bigger. That’s no longer the case. In fact, it’s almost the last resort now. We are seeing churches do everything in their power to not build new buildings.
  3. Churches are shrinking. Fewer churches are constructing buildings because fewer churches are growing. We see this in my own denomination and others like it. When an estimated 90% of churches are not growing at the same pace as their community, there will be a decrease in the need for space.

What other observations would you gather from this data?

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