Friday, July 24, 2009

Church Attendance: what it says

Over a cup of coffee my friend said, "You know, I haven't been to church in a month. Are you going to bawl me out?" I smiled and told him I'm not a policeman. But I asked him what happened. There was no big issue, crisis or controversy. He was not sliding in his faith or angry at God. He was just tired from a heavy load and work and slept in and took it easy on Sunday mornings. I asked him how it was going. He told me he did not realize how hungry we was getting and said he'd be back. This is a good guy, a solid spiritual man. What's happening?
Good old George Barna did some research on church attendance patterns that you might find interesting. Where does it put you?

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. Some of these people use religious media, but they have had no personal interaction with a regularly-convened faith community. This segment represents one out of every four adults (23%) in America. About one-third of the segment was people who have never attended a church at any time in their life.

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%). About two-thirds of this group had attended at least one church event at some time within the past six months.

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. Most of these people attend a conventional church as their primary church, but many are experimenting with new forms of faith community. In total, 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. This participation includes attending any of a wide variety of conventional-church events, such as weekend services, mid-week services, special events, or church-based classes.


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