Survey: Not Going to Church About the Church, Not Faith

A recent survey tried to determine what it would take for people who are not going to church to start going.

The survey, conducted by Lifeway, seems to have come to an interesting conclusion: People don’t have a problem with faith, but seem to think the church isn’t for them.

Isn’t church the place where faith is supposed to live most vibrantly, where it’s supposed to be on display the most boldly, and where it’s supposed to be recharged so dramatically?

Ideally, yes.

But it sounds like that’s not necessarily what’s happening for people who say they aren’t going to church.

Christianity Today reported the Lifeway Research study attempted to determine what it would take to actually get people who say they don’t go to church to show up.

The top three things that would get those people inside the doors are:

  1. A meeting about neighborhood safety (62%)
  2. A community service event (51%)
  3. A sports or exercise program (46%)

There was a tie for fourth place: a concert or a neighborhood get-together.

So in the top five reasons for going to church, none of them are the primary reasons the church building is there — teaching about faith or worshipping God — are listed. (You could argue, of course, that “attending a concert” would likely cover the worship part, however, since a concert held at a church, presumably, would feature faith-based music.)

Maybe that’s why so many churches today seem obsessed with looking like a rock concert.

But one other finding among the multiple findings listed in the article linked above was particularly interesting: people not going to church don’t mind talking about faith:

Almost half (47 percent) said they would discuss religion freely if the topic comes up while 31 percent said they would listen without responding and 11 percent said they would change the subject.

That means 78 percent are willing to at least hear a religious discussion, and, potentially, be influenced by one.

A church need not be the only place in which a religious discussion take place. In fact, if Sunday morning is the only time of the week you talk about your faith or are ever around people who choose to talk about their faith, you’re probably doing something wrong.

It’s interesting to think how churches might benefit from encouraging more community interaction during its “off-hours” or even on Sunday morning to get people inside. Maybe that would be a way to introduce them to an atmosphere that feels more comfortable, more like home than the places that have previously turned them off.

Maybe that’s one way to encourage more people who show up.

Maybe the “rock concert” model doesn’t work for everyone after all.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.