5 Trends Driving Americans’ Perception of the Relevance and Influence of the Church

New research by the evangelical Christian polling firm Barna Group, which looked at how Americans relate with the churches they attend, reveals five notable trends affecting pastors and Christian leaders.

The findings are part of the State of the Church 2020 study, a year-long examination of the spiritual and religious trends that define American life these days. The researchers primarily explored two different categories of adults who have relatively recent experience in a Christian church: practicing Christians and churched adults.

“In the first case, we’re talking about those who are the most church savvy adults. In the second, we’re looking at all of those adults who are reasonably familiar with the experience of churchgoing,” Barna President David Kinnaman explained in an article based on the research.

Here are the five trends that Barna discovered:

1. Declining church loyalty, ‘church hopping’

Barna found that nearly two in five churchgoers report regularly attending multiple churches, suggesting that just because somebody might attend church doesn’t mean they attend the same church every time.

However, 63 percent of churched adults and 72 percent of practicing Christians tend to stick with a single congregation. And nearly two in five churched adults and one-quarter of practicing Christians at least occasionally attend other churches.

“Interestingly, church hoppers are just as likely as more loyal attenders to report weekly attendance. In other words, just because they select from a handful of different churches to attend doesn’t make them any less likely to actually attend church on any given weekend,” the study says. “Also, those who ‘hop around’ don’t do so as a routine part of their churchgoing in a given month, but typically attend another church occasionally.”

2. Churchgoers on the value of church

The study shows that two-thirds of churched adults say they attend church because they “enjoy doing it,” and the same is true for four in five practicing Christians. One in six churchgoers says they attend because they “have to” and one in seven says they do so “out of habit.”

“While most churchgoers attribute positive feelings to their participation in church, half of Christians agree that ‘church as usual’ is declining in popularity. Or, at least, churchgoers perceive that other people feel this way,” it says.

About half of Christians and more than half of churched adults overall admit that people they know are tired of the usual type of church experience, it adds. “While you might think that some groups of Christians are more likely than others to feel this way, data show no significant difference across denomination, generation or faith segment.”

3. Churchgoers largely experience or expect positive emotions and outcomes by going to church.

Overall, 37 percent churched adults say they leave worship services feeling inspired, 37 percent feel encouraged, 34 percent feel forgiven, 33 percent feel as though they have connected with God or experienced his presence, and 26 percent say they are challenged to change something in their life, every time. Nearly 30 percent of churched adults express always feeling that attending service was the most important experience they had all week and 28 percent say that they learned something new.

“Even so, 32 percent of churched adults say they feel disappointed by the experience at least half of the time and another 40 percent leave feeling guilty.”

Kinnaman cautioned, “In survey research, people tend to under-report negative experiences. As researchers, we have to amplify the times when they have the courage to report these kinds of disappointing experiences, and acknowledge there may be other ways a worship community has let them down, beyond those listed here.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Post