Interesting Facts Concerning the Church of the Nazarene Churches (USA) Over 1000 (COK)* 

There have been at least 51 different churches in USA/Canada region that at some time in their history have averaged over 1,000 in Sunday morning worship attendance.* These churches have been labeled “COK” for “Churches of 1,000.” Of those COK and former COK churches, 19 continue to average over 1,000 in 2022. Four COK churches, of the 51, experienced its best year ever in worship attendance in 2022 (Beavercreek, OH; Oro Valley, AZ: Wooster, OH; and Crossroads Cowboy Church, AR). Of the 19 COK churches still averaging over 1,000, eight reported growth in 2022; nine reported a decline and two churches remained the same.

There have been 13 USA/Canada churches average over 2,000 in the history of the Church of the Nazarene. Only three churches currently are over 2,000 (Oro Valley; Be Hope in Beavercreek; and Bethany First Church). For Beavercreek, 2022 was the first year over 2,000; Oro Valley has averaged over 2,000 for the last two years; while Bethany First has continually averaged over 2,000 since 1982. 

26 of the 51 churches have an average attendance in 2022 that is less than half of their highest point yearly attendance.  There are 14 former COK churches that averaged less than 500 in worship attendance. Three churches average attendance was less than 200 and one averaged 90 in attendance in 2022. That particular church averaged 1450 in worship attendance in 2004. Several churches experienced steep declines during the pandemic– one church dropping 1488 and another 899 in attendance from 2019 to 2022. 

What do these statistics indicate?

  1. It’s hard to maintain an attendance over 1,000 (only 37% of the COK churches have done so). 
  2. It’s even harder to maintain an attendance over 2,000. Only Bethany First church has steadily maintained an average over 2000 for a prolonged period of time. Why is that? Good pastoral and lay leadership of Bethany First church is a major factor and having a college next door doesn’t hurt. 
  3. Numerous factors play into the declining attendance. The pandemic, a post Christian America, church splits, church satellites organizing as separate churches; poor pastoral transitions, moral failures of leadership, change in community dynamics, etc.
  4. Today’s reported numbers do not equal tomorrow’s growth and health. In fact, if anything, today’s numbers indicate the necessity to prepare for sustainable ministries with less reliance on the person occupying the pulpit. Leaders retire or change. Some fail. Wise churches are those that develop strategies for growth that are not dependent on its current pastoral leadership. 

Who cares what happens in the big churches?

We all should care. Large, strong, healthy churches are good for all the churches on the district and denomination. This is true for the financial benefits when COK churches are paying their fair share of apportionments. It is also true when COK churches are being the best neighbors in their community. It is good name association for the surrounding Nazarene churches when a large church is doing well and blessing its community (The opposite is also true. A moral failure in a large church, hurts the surrounding churches in a guilt-by-association” sort of way). Moreover, generally large churches cluster together. They might not all average over 1,000 but strong healthy churches, frequently breed other strong healthy churches. 

As life in a post pandemic, post-Christian America becomes more into focus, we need strong, healthy Nazarene churches. We need churches that the denomination can point to and rely upon to lead the charge and win the lost. Oro Valley church reported 126 conversions and bringing in 204 new Nazarenes in 2022. Be Hope (Beavercreek) did even better: 232 conversions and 187 New Nazarenes. We need churches like these and we need to go and do likewise. Strong large congregations are good for the denomination. We need more of them serving Jesus and blessing the church.

Current COK Churches averaging over 1,000 in attendance in 2022:

  1. Oro Valley, Arizona (2590)
  2. Be Hope- Beavercreek, Ohio (2192)
  3. Bethany First, Oklahoma (2065)
  4. Lakeland Highland Park (1912)
  5. Wooster, Ohio (1796)
  6. Grove City, Ohio (1774)
  7. Crossroads, Goshen, Indiana (1665)
  8. Fairview Village, Pennsylvania (1503)
  9. Flint Central, Michigan (1488)
  10. Cincinnati Springdale, Ohio (1468)
  11. Pismo Beach, California (1374)
  12. Crossroad Cowboy, Arkansas (1235)
  13. Olathe College Church, Kansas (1234)
  14. Prairie Heights, North Dakota (1210)
  15. Richmond Southside, Virginia (1181)
  16. Medford, Oregon (1080)
  17. Jackson First, Michigan 1030)
  18. Valparaiso, Indiana (1016)
  19. Nampa First, Idaho (1003)

*A few disclaimers: 

1) These stats are for discussion purposes. They are not official stats, but taken from the Nazarene Website from churches that I recall as being over 1,000. There may be others. This is especially true if there is a church that had not previously averaged 1000 in attendance. A Top 100 list was requested, and not received; 
2) These stats do not include those churches over 1,000 that have left the denomination (I recall at least one or two such churches);
3) These stats do not include churches that no longer exist (I can think of one such church); 
4) These stats do not include churches that have (amicably or not) divided into two churches and were re-organized under separate names (i.e. College Church—Kankakee, Illinois became Gathering Point and College Church—University Avenue. Together these churches averaged over 1,113 in 2022.  Kankakee College Church at its height also averaged over 1000 in worship attendance); and
5) I’m a stats nerd. That’s why I looked into this.