The days of joining a church and staying in it for life are long gone. New research by the Barna Group shows that practicing Christians and churched adults believe in the value of church and its positive impact on society, but for a growing number of them, church hopping is normal.
In the most comprehensive look at the state of the church, this 2020 study found five trends amongst practicing Christians and churched adults in the United States.
- Church hopping is on the rise. Although a majority of churchgoers attend the same church every Sunday, a growing number of them have started “church hopping.” Only a slim number of participants in the study responded that they divide their attendance between two or more different churches.
- A majority of churchgoers value attending church. More than 60 percent of churched adults responded that they enjoyed attending church. Among practicing Christians, only 9 percent attend because they “have to” and another 9 percent out of habit. More than 80 percent of practicing Christians enjoy church.
- Churchgoers experience positive emotions at church. 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. Nonetheless, 32 percent also said that they felt disappointed by the experience about half of the time, and 40 percent said they leave church feeling guilty.
- Membership still matters to many. Barely more than half of churchgoers who attend church at least every six months are members of their church. One in three said they regularly attend but are not members. Practicing Christians, however, showed a stronger commitment with 71 percent claiming membership. Boomers are far more likely than both Gen X and Millennials to become members of their churches. More than 60 percent of practicing Christians responded that their church impacts their community positively. However, Christian Millennials aren’t as sure. About 25 percent of them agree with the rest of non-Christians that the C\church is irrelevant.
- Christians believe their church has a positive impact on their community. Barna also found that one in 10 Americans believes the church is inconsequential to society. Approximately 10 percent of them also believe that the church is hurting our country.
–Alan Gorforth | Metro Voice