My new favorite resource on this topic is Thom S. Rainer’s book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched.
This is the result of one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on the unchurched population.
He has surveyed those who have become churchgoers within the last two years.
In this case, the “formerly unchurched” themselves were asked to give feedback on what was and was not influential in their conversions.
The research was a very responsible, independently evaluated, qualitative study.
Over a six year period, Rainer’s group studied over 2,000 “effective evangelistic churches,” defined as those having 26 conversions per year and a conversion ratio (membership/annual conversion) of less than 20:1 (national norm for American churches is 85:1).
Less than 4 percent of American churches met the criteria.
This was a particular niche of study, asking questions of those who made that transition into effective evangelistic churches.
Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier, p. 18)
- 90% – Pastor/Preaching
- 88% – Doctrines
- 49% – Friendliness of Members
- 42% – Other Issues
- 41% – Someone Church Witnessed to Me
- 38% – Family Member
- 37% – Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
- 25% – Relationship Other than Family Member
- 25% – Sunday School Class
- 25% – Children’s/Youth Ministry
- 12% – Other Groups/Ministries
- 11% – Worship Style/Music
- 7% – Location
Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church
(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)
- 58% – Doctrine/Theology
- 53% – People Caring for Each Other
- 52% – Preaching
- 45% – Friendliness
- 45% – Children’s Programs
- 43% – Helping the Poor
- 36% – Denomination
- 35% – Like the Pastor
- 26% – Sunday School
Photo credit: Church Steeple photo credit: TechSavi via cc
dr jeff scott
AMERICAN GOTHIC CHURCH: Changing the Way People See the Church, a new book by Jeffery Warren Scott suggests that the unchurched are not likely to be reached unless believers change the mental image of Christians embedded in the minds of the unchurched. Churches which are encouraging, joyful, and compassionate are more likely to reach and retain the unchurched.
Your persistent Ad Choices banner ad obliterates #5-10 of the list of 13.
Nothing I can do to make it go away.
Disappointing – sounds interesting.
Your adds cover up important content