Monday, March 03, 2008

New Statistics on Church Attendance and Avoidance

Well Barna has released their latest stats on church attendance and avoidance. There are nearly 100 million unchurched people in the U.S. They have discovered that the old ways of measuring these figures are no longer applicable. So they have come up with some newer measures:
According to Barna, one way of examining people's participation in faith communities is by exploring how they practice their corporate faith engagement. Unveiling a new measurement model, Barna identified the following five segments:
Unattached - people who had attended neither a conventional church nor an organic faith community (e.g., house church, simple church, intentional community) during the past year. This segment represents one out of every four adults (23%) in America.

Intermittents - these adults are essentially "under-churched" - i.e., people who have participated in either a conventional church or an organic faith community within the past year, but not during the past month. Such people constitute about one out of every seven adults (15%).

Homebodies - people who had not attended a conventional church during the past month, but had attended a meeting of a house church (3%).

Blenders - adults who had attended both a conventional church and a house church during the past month. Blenders represent 3% of the adult population.

Conventionals - adults who had attended a conventional church (i.e., a congregational-style, local church) during the past month but had not attended a house church. Almost three out of every five adults (56%) fit this description.

Barna goes on to discuss the unattached and how to connect with them.

He calls them a unique profile and has this further to add: Six out of ten adults in the Unattached category (59%) consider themselves to be Christian. Even more surprising was the revelation that 17% of the Unattached are born again Christians - defined as people who have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that they consider to be very important in their life, and who believe that they will experience Heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior.

Check it out, its worth the read, and may help in your ministry efforts. There are a lot of people in the unattached category that are more likely to feel stressed out, less likely to be concerned about the moral condition of the nation, much less likely to believe that they are making a positive difference in the world and less optimistic about the future. Sounds like they are a people who are in need of hope, real hope, not false hope, not just false optimism and not just false pollyanna attitudes. We don't need more stealing of sheep from other churches and denominations. We need to be connecting with those who are unattached and finding the ways to do it, which may not be the normal traditional ways.

4 comments:

Questing Parson said...

True. And we may also need to move those who are in the pews to greater service.

revabi said...

Very good remark questing parson. very good.

zorra said...

QP is right, but HOW to do that is the million dollar question. I am on our church's Pastor Nominating Committee and we just completed our survey of where the church is heading,what are our needs, etc. Many people wrote things like, "We need more Sunday school classes." Not one added, "...and I would be glad to teach one." How to move church members from a "consumer" orientation to really taking ownership of the church and their role in it is a big question.

teachergran said...

As a layperson, I think that sometimes the people in the pews may feel that they: 1) don't know enough to teach; or 2) don't know how to go about teaching (our church at one point offered a class on facilitating small groups that I think some found helpful) or how to start up a project to address a need they might see in the community; or 3) are afraid to take on a commitment that may seem open-ended; or 4) already feel over-committed and/or overwhelmed in their personal and work lives.
It is also possible that the questions and interests of the "people in the pews" are not being addressed by many churches. Our church had a recent Sunday evening series of classes on the Bible and the Quran, and there were probably about 60-80 people at the first class. It was taught by a local professor, and I couldn't afford the $30 charge, so I didn't go to the rest of the classes, but it was interesting to see the variety of people who showed up that first night.