Mission Day Speakers Profile
When Jim Davis and Michael Graham were both pastors of Orlando Grace Church, an evangelical congregation, they began wondering why the size of their church was smaller than others in the Bible Belt and more secular cities.
They started searching for data that could provide them with some information on why people left the church and if there was anything they could do about it, but they couldn’t find anything recent or granular.
So, they decided to research the subject on their own.
They enlisted friends who helped them raise about $100,000 and they garnered the help of two political scientists who survey religious trends in the U.S. — Ryan Burge at Eastern Illinois University and Paul Djupe of Denison University.
They then undertook what they believe is the largest study done on people who have stopped going to church, finding out that about 15% of Americans are “dechurched.” They surveyed more than 4,000 of the people who have left the church to more deeply understand why.
They shared their results through a podcast series and the book “The Great De-Churching: Who's Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will it Take to Bring Them Back?”
“The entire process of whiteboarding the problem, building the three phases of survey questions, acquiring and analyzing the data, building the dechurched profiles, recording the 20-episode podcast season, and writing and promoting the book was a three-year process,” said Graham.
Graham and Davis, who is a teaching pastor at Orlando Grace Church, are planning to share the knowledge they gleaned as keynote speakers of the upcoming Mission Day 2024, scheduled for May 4, at St. Matthew's Cathedral.
“More people have left the church in the last twenty-five years than all the new people who became Christians from the First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, and Billy Graham crusades combined,” Davis and Graham wrote in their book.
But they also have a message of hope and plan on sharing what they believe can be done to bring congregants back to the church.
Graham and Davis each have a Master of Divinity degree from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. The pair, who shared the experience of being pastors at Orlando Grace Church, continue to work together on the “As In Heaven” podcast. Davis is the host of the series and Graham is executive producer and writer.
Today, Davis also continues at Orlando Grace as teaching pastor and speaks for Family Life’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaways with his wife, Angela. The couple have four children.
Meanwhile, Graham is a program director for The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics. He and his wife, Sara, have two children.
Graham and Davis are planning a fourth phase to their work on “The Great Dechurching.” They are planning to fundraise to support the work that will look at parenting styles, childhood trauma testing, the generational differences for immigrants, and church styles and sizes.