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