Only three of the churches on this megaregion run over 1,000 on a given Sunday.
These three churches account for one out of five worship attendees. Two are in Lakeland and one is in Miami.
There two other churches that run over 500, one in Bradenton on the west coast, and the other in Miami.
Two of the top five in worship attendance are designated as ethnic churches.
Churches of this size could fill the role of being a missional center, capable of raising up new leaders, preparing them, and sending resources to fund the mission beyond their local context. This is a heavy responsibility for only three congregations.
About half of the churches reporting attendance are running over 75 in worship attendance. (96 of 214).
One-third of the churches are less than 45 in worship attendance.
The geographic center of the Florida megaregion is Port St. Lucie on the east coast. This measurement was taken by determining the distance halfway from Lake City to Key West.
More than half of the churches in the Florida megaregion are designated as ethnic.
Or, 125 of 239 active churches.
Membership in these churches represents 47% of the total Nazarene membership in this megaregion (17,371 of 37,240 members).
The earliest organized ethnic church is Miami First which is designated as a Black church, using statistical terminology in how Nazarenes gather data. This designation distinguishes Black from Haitian and Multicultural. There are ten Black churches, 40 Haitian, and 10 Multicultural churches on the megaregion. These designations do not account for individual members within a congregation but the congregational membership as a whole designated in the annual church report given by the senior assigned pastor.
Ethnic churches are pretty evenly divided between Florida district (mostly in the northern half of the state) and the Southern Florida district (64 to 61).
About four out of ten ethnic churches run over 75 in worship attendance.
Miami Bethany Church of the Nazarene, designated as Hispanic, has an average worship attendance of 1,053. Forty-three percent (43%) of ethnic churches on this megaregion are Hispanic (54 congregations).
About 10% of the assigned senior pastors are women on the Florida megaregion. (20 out of 195 pastors). Only 3% of ethnic pastors are female, however.
The largest church with a female pastor averages 135 in worship attendance. The median worship attendance in churches with a female pastor is about 45.
70% of the women in assigned senior pastoral ministry have in their assignment for less than eight years.
There are 195 assigned senior pastors on this megaregion.
Or, one pastor for 88,717 people (using 2010 population data).
If this number of assigned pastors is maintained, there will be . . .
In 2025, a decrease to one pastor for 110,256 people.
In 2050, a decrease to one pastor for 160,000 people.
Median worship attendance at a church with an assigned pastor is 70, which is higher than other megaregions. For instance, it's 36 in median worship attendance for churches with assigned pastors in the Gulf Coast megaregion.
Median tenure is also longer, closer to eight years; and, about 30% of pastors have been in their assignment less than five years. About the same percentage have been in their assignments more than twelve years.
Half of the female pastors in this megaregion have been assigned since 2013.
There are 44 churches without an assigned senior pastor. It is important to remember that these data represent a snapshot in time.
This megaregion comprises only part of the state of Florida. I took liberties with the boundaries of this megaregion to include Lake City which sits at the crossroads of Interstates 75 and 10 as well as Tallahassee, which is the state capital. Otherwise, the churches included in this research study includes churches from the Florida district and Southern Florida district in the Church of the Nazarene.
Notice the image below which shows the largest populated "neighborhood" within this "megacity," Greater Miami, and the smaller "neighborhoods" of Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.
n the next thirty years, this megaregion will show 80% population growth, adding almost 13.8 million people to the 17.3 million already living here, most of this growth will be along the Atlantic seaboard between Port St. Lucie and Homestead.
Of the 564 churches that have been started or organized, about 239 remain active, or 42%.
About 27% of the churches were started or organized prior to 1960.
More than half (55%) were started or organized after 1980.
One out of five active churches were started or organized in the 2010s.
The next most proliferate decades in starting or organizing churches that are still active:
the 1980s with 33, the 2000s with 31, and the 1950s with 27.
Three years showed 15 churches started or organized in a single year: 1958, 1986, 1987:
19 of these 45 churches are still active.
There are four churches that have had more than a century of active ministry:
Miami First, Princeton, Fort Lauderdale Dayspring International, and Jacksonville First.
Of the 564 churches that have been started or organized, 325 have been closed, or 58%.
The first year, however, with more than ten churches closed in one year was 1989 . . . with 72 churches closed (that's right, seventy-two!). Followed by twelve more years with ten or more closings. The second most coming in 1992 (23). The infograph shows the steep impact of closings beginning in the 1980s. It should be noted that the closings were offset by rapid starts and organizings since the 1980s as shown in the chart below.
The correlation between years active and percentage of churches closing remains consistent with the other megearegions in this study.
Most megaregions show one-fourth of churches closing after two years, about half after seven years, and 60% to 70% closing after twelve years.
The Florida megaregion shows a slight increase in each category with 29% closing after two years, 67% closing after seven years, and almost 80% after twelve years.
Thirteen churches closed after 50 years of ministry.
The statistics below speak for themselves. Here is some context:
There are 108 active congreagtions and only 95 reported attendance.
Six churches are 150 or more in worship attendance, or 15% of the total.
59% are fewer than 45 in average worship attendance.
The largest congregation by worship attendance is Nacogdoches First Nazaerne with 224 in average attendance.
The geographic center is Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is about 520 miles from Matamoros, Mexico and Panama City, Florida.
About one-third of the total number of churches are designated as ethnic (29 of 108).
Ten percent have a female pastor and 14% have more than 75 in average worship attendance.
Most are located in Louisiana (18).
And, the large majority, about 80%, are Hispanic.
Nine women serve as senior assigned Nazarene pastors in the Gulf Coast megaregion.
Or, ten percent (10%) of the total (86).
The largest church with a female senior pastor has an average worship attendance of 72; the smallest is 4. The median is 25.
Only one has been in their assignment prior to 2006.
There are 86 pastors on this megaregion (note: one is counted twice as a part of a dual assignment).
This means there is one Nazarene pastor for 155,814 people in the Gulf Coast Megaregion, using 2010 population numbers (see image below).
If the current number of pastors is maintained, there will be . . .
There is currently one church for 124,074 people. The ratio should be one church for 10,000 people to be a sustainable and recognizable presence in a given population.
One out of five pastors on this megaregion have been in place for more than twelve years.
About 30% have been at their church assignments for under four years, and another 30% for more than nine years.
Median worship for churches with an assigned pastor is 36.
Median tenure for pastors on this megaregion is five years, or in place since 2013.
Nine pastors are women.
The megaregion causes some difficulty in trying to find a way to get from one end to the other. It doesn't go quite as far as Tallahasee hugging the coastline around Panama City in the east. The megaregion straggles I-10 toward Houston with a divergence toward Shreveport along I-49. And, then at Houston, while encompassing this huge city that anchors not one but two megaregions, dips down highways 59 and 77 toward Corpus Christi and the Texas-Mexico border from McAllen/Reynosa and Brownsville/Matamoros. This place can be traversed in a 3 hour and 30 minute flight or by road in 15 hours and over 1,000 miles.
This megaregion will cause some difficulty in determining which churches to study. It contains parts of six Nazarene districts. It was difficult to determine where to make the cut-off. I decided to stay true to the eastern and western extent of the megaregion. Therefore, Tallahassee is not included in the east and most of Houston west of the coastline is left to the Texas Triangle research. The northern edge follows highway 84 from Dothan, Georgia, north of Hattiesburg, Mississippi through Alexandria, Louisiana (including the churches northward along I-49 and in the vicinity of Shreveport) to Nagadoches/Woodville, Texasa
314 churches have been started and/or organized in this geographic region. About one-third remain active (108).
The most churches organized in any single year was 1941 with nine. Two of them are still active.
Fifty-nine churches were started or organized in the 1940s. Fifteen (15) are still active.
52 active churches were organized since 1950.
54 active churches were organized prior to 1950.
Churches still active that were started or organized in the 1950s - 6
. . . in the 1960s - 4
. . . in the 1970s - 3
. . . in the 1980s - 5
. . . in the 1990s - 3
Churches still active that were started or organized in the 1940s - 15
. . . in the 1930s - 18
. . . in the 1920s - 17
. . . in the 1910s - 4
One-quarter (24%) of the churches in this megaregion were started since 2010.
Of the 314 churches started or organized, 66% (206) have been closed. There was only one year when ten or more churches were closed (ten in 1957), just a consistent decline, almost from the first decade.
About one-sixth (17%, 35) of churches closed within two years.
Forty-five percent (45%, 92) of the churches closed within seven years.
Fifty-eight percent (58%, 119) closed within twelve years.
One-third (33%, 66) closed with at least 20 years of active ministry.
Churches closing spiked in the 1950s with a steady increase starting again in the 1990s.
85 churches have closed since 1990. Or, forty-one percent of the total (206).
Twenty-four (24) churches closed after fifty years of activity ministry.
It was between the years 2000 to 2018 that fifteen (15) of these half-century old churches were closed.