Home / News / Culture Watch / Barna study: Adults still find church attendance relevant

Barna study: Adults still find church attendance relevant

The Barna research organization, which specializes in issues of faith, reveals in a new study that that practicing Christians and churched adults still enjoy gathering and worshiping in church. The younger generation? Not so much.

The State of the Church 2020 study examined the spiritual and religious trends, which determined how the American lifestyle connects with church commitments and attendance.

barna church

The Barna report reveals the top-five trends that show how the church is doing in the US today.

Less Church Loyalty, More “Church Hopping” 

Although a majority of churchgoers attend the same church every Sunday, a growing number of them have started “church hopping.”

READ: Study reveals what worries pastors

The study shows that 63 percent of churched adults and 72 percent of practicing Christians tend to stay with a single congregation.

But 38 percent of churched adults and 27 percent of practicing Christians are occasionally attending other churches.

barna church

Majority of Churchgoers Value Church Attendance

More than 60 percent of churched adults say say they enjoy attending church and the same is true for 82 percent of practicing Christians.

Only 17 percent say they attend church because they “have to” and 15 percent do so “out of habit.”

“Those who frequent worship services do so largely because of personal enjoyment, but many churchgoers also readily admit that they believe people are tired of church as usual,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna.

The study revealed that about half of Christians and more than half of churched adults say that people they know are bored by the typical church experience. This number did not change across the different denominations, generations, or faith segments.

church motivations

Churchgoers Experience Positive Moments

As a whole, churched adults say their time at church makes them feel “inspired (37 percent), encouraged (37 percent), forgiven (34 percent), as though they have connected with God or experienced His presence (33 percent) and challenged to change something in their life (26 percent) every time.”

But, 32 percent of churched adults say they feel disappointed by the church experience at least half of the time and 40 percent leave feeling guilty.

“We must emphasize the reality that, week in and week out, today’s church leaders are tasked with meeting a diverse set of emotional expectations,” Kinnaman stressed.

Church Membership Remains Common Practice For Most, Yet Declines With Younger Generation  

Almost half of those attending church – at least every six months – are members of their church. One in three said they regularly attend but are not church members. But practicing Christians showed a stronger commitment with 71 percent asserting membership.

This data revealed no differences between denominations, whether mainline or non-mainline, Protestant or Catholic. Yet, baby boomers are more likely than Gen X and Millennial’s combined to become members of their churches. For many in the younger generation, the mention of church membership seemed “not applicable.”

“Americans aren’t joining much of anything these days and church membership is not as compelling as it once was,” Kinnaman noted. “In a world of untethered commitments and free-for-all content, the positive correlations of church membership should not be overlooked. The form of membership may be undergoing change, but the function of generating a mutually committed group of people is still highly relevant to today’s Americans.”

emotions after church

Practicing Christians Believe Churches Are Useful to Community

Nearly 70 percent of practicing Christians say church has a positive impact on the community. while about 30 percent believe it is somewhat useful.

Regardless of generation, race or denomination, the church itself is considered irrelevant by about one in 10 Americans.

barna church

Some who are committed members of the church feel it is falling out of style. About 25 percent of practicing Christian millennial’s agree the church is unimportant today.

For more information on the State of the Church 2020, click here.

About the Research
The statistics and data-based analyses in this study are derived from a national public opinion survey conducted by Barna among 1,003 U.S. adults and 603 practicing Christian adults. Responses were collected online between December 5-18, 2019, using a nationally representative panel. The rate of error for this data is +/- 2.2% at the 95% confidence level. –CBNNews