Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Attracts the Unchurched

The last time I spoke to a steady stream of college students new to town about church prospects, I don't recall a single one of them asking about the music at Element. But nearly all of them wanted to know if we were non-denominational.

Not all of these students could be classified "unchurched," but I've long believed our churches have overestimated the sensitivities of seekers.

ChurchRelevance.com recently reported on Rainer and Barna studies asking for the top reasons folks choose a church:
Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Rainer)

1. 90% - Pastor/Preaching
2. 88% - Doctrines
3. 49% - Friendliness of Members
4. 42% - Other Issues
5. 41% - Someone Church Witnessed to Me
6. 38% - Family Member
7. 37% - Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
8. 25% - Relationship Other than Family Member
9. 25% - Sunday School Class
10. 25% - Children’s/Youth Ministry
11. 12% - Other Groups/Ministries
12. 11% - Worship Style/Music
13. 7% - Location

Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church
(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)

1. 58% - Doctrine/Theology
2. 53% - People Caring for Each Other
3. 52% - Preaching
4. 45% - Friendliness
5. 45% - Children’s Programs
6. 43% - Helping the Poor
7. 36% - Denomination
8. 35% - Like the Pastor
9. 26% - Sunday School

And a recent LifeWay Research study shows that:
By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio over any other option, unchurched Americans prefer churches that look more like a medieval cathedral than what most think of as a more contemporary church building.

Time to rethink some assumptions, don't ya think?


Bill said...

Definitely. Time to re-think.

Anonymous said...

well, although college students might not raise or ask the question... worship music, if not engaging on some level for them, could be a stumbling block for them, after the fact...

I don't believe you're gonna consistently attract and maintain that age group with your momma or daddy's worship music done "old school". Choirs with robes and etc... organ or piano with Aunt Jane playing... it surely would have to be worship music they connect with.... in some way...

So, it may be one of those "don't ask, don't tell" and then wait and see how they react to the style, flavor and/or excellence of the worship music... at any given church...

my 2¢...

---- but, I do agree that re-thinking is something that needs to be done... and maybe on a regular basis... : -)