We are excited to announce “Count Us In!”

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Heritage21 has joined with 21st Century Christian, and the Christian Chronicle to form the Church Research Council, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit entity. Joining this group in a supporting role is the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. Additionally, we are talking with our universities and other ministries about joining together in this partnering work. Ah yes, but why is this an exciting venture? Great question! 

We are joining together to conduct a major update and upgrade of the Churches of Christ in the United States.

If you have used Churches of Christ in the United States much, you probably realized that there has been so much change over the last decade, particularly since the last edition was published in 2018, that even the 2018 edition feels out of date. I’m sure we have all experienced the radical changes the Covid pandemic wrought in so many churches–as well as the state of American Christianity. The title of the 2023 book by Jim Davis and Michael Graham, The Great Dechurching, so aptly captures this ginormous shift we are experiencing. The summary of their book is this:

“We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country,” with over forty million people who have dechurched.

You have probably asked the same question we have at H21, “What is happening among Churches of Christ?” That’s what we want to find out. How are we doing as a fellowship? What churches are still in the field and how are they faring?

Here’s a bit of history about this survey project of our fellowship. In the 1970’s, Mac Lynn began assembling and publishing a directory titled, Where the Saints Meet. In 2006 Mac passed this work onto Carl Royster at 21st Century Christian. Carl was the primary data collector and editor for Churches of Christ in the United States, publishing every 3 years until Covid hit. Since then, Carl stepped into the presidency of 21stCC and his staffing is less than it was pre-Covid, which limits the resources to update the directory.

In November 2023, H21 initiated a conversation with Carl regarding a collaborative effort to update the directory. In March 2024, we broadened that conversation to include the Christian Chronicle and the Siburt Institute at ACU. All these organizations understand the necessity of having up to date information about congregations in our fellowship. The result was the formation of the Church Research Council (CRC) as a focal point for taking on the project in a way that could give it a long-term future.

Not only is it time to update the congregational directory information, we also believe we have much more to learn from each other. What are congregations doing to disciple their people? How are they serving their communities? How are they reaching new people with the good news of Jesus? What is the status of their ministers and leaders? These are important questions whose answers will help you as church leaders know better how to serve your churches, your communities, and God’s greater kingdom.

In April, Dr. Stanley E. Granberg took on the role of project director for the CRC. His first task was to assemble a project team of people who represent the various streams of our fellowship as best we can. Take a look at this team on the About page of the CRC website. This is a team of people with great expertise, experience, and networking skills.

As you can imagine, this effort requires financial resources. H21 has agreed to fund Dr. Granberg’s leadership. Additionally, the CRC partners have already funded half of the anticipated cost of the research: $60,000. We are still looking for others who see the value of this project to fund another $60,000. If you know of anyone who might help us with this need, please get in touch with me or with one of the other H21 Trustees.

There is much more to come, but until next time, may you bless and be blessed as you labor in the fields of the Lord.

Stan Granberg

Heritage21

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