Church, Current Issues

What people look for (need) from Church

Some interesting information about why people go to church and what they want from church.

After you read the statistics–please comment–what are your reasons for attending church?

Top 6 Things people are looking for their Church
(Reveal Survey, Willow Creek)
56%–Challenges me to grow and take next steps
55%–Helps me to understand the Bible in greater depth
51%–Helps me develop a personal relationship with Christ
50%–Helps me apply the Bible to my life
49%–Provides compelling worship services
35%–Provides strong programs for children to learn about God (this one was high among people with children, but since only 58% of respondents had kids, that lowers the numbers)

Much of the following is from Thom S. Ranier’s book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched.

While the survey was fairly small (350 new Christians, 350 Christians who switched churches and 100 pastors–all from conservative evangelical church)–I think it is meaningful for the environment in which I serve.
The strength of the data–if you have a clear mission and focus on the development of people (true discipleship with a focus on serving), you will attack both believers and new believers.
The weakness of the data–it doesn’t show why people necessarily leave a church or how to reach those who are not “generally” like the rest of those at our church.

Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier in his book Surprising Insights of the Unchurched, 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
Notice (the following) that what keeps people are is ownership of the ministry–moving from attending a church to belonging or from “their church” to “my church.”

Top 6 Things that Keep the Formerly Unchurched Active in the Church
(research conducted by Ranier)
62% – Ministry Involvement

55% – Sunday School
54% – Obedience to God
49% – Fellowship of Members
38% – Pastor/Preaching
14% – Worship Services

The statistics speak for themselves. Overall, doctrine, the pastor and his preaching, and the friendliness and fellowship of the congregation are the most influential qualities.

Also, a broader Gallup Poll discovered that 40% of Americans claim to attend church or synagogue regularly but 15% never attend.  The reasons why…

#1 Reason Why People Attend Church

23% for spiritual growth and guidance
20% keeps me grounded/guided
15% it’s my faith
15% to worship God
13% the fellowship of other members (the community)
12% believe in God/religion
12% brought up that way (tradition)

#1 Reason Why People Do Not Attend Church
24% don’t agree with organized religion/what they preach
21% don’t have time/don’t get around to it
16% don’t believe in going to church
10% don’t believe in God (atheist)
9% don’t have a church I connect with
6% I’m lazy
3% church wants/asks too much money
2% poor health/disabled
1% family members are different religions
(The last 5 sets of statistics found on Church Relevance)


Author: Steve

I love to study the Bible and I love to engage with others in learning. I had been privileged to do this on a regular basis through church ministry and through part-time teaching at a local Bible colleges. Helping individuals learn to feed themselves through their own study of God’s Word is joy-giving to me. Influencing groups to do life and church from a biblically grounded, theologically faithful perspective is my passion.

1 Comment

  1. My top reason would be fellowship… Many of the above answers could fall under that heading.

    What I think is most interesting about this servery is how little worship (style) is mentioned… Its almost portrayed as a non-issue. I find this funny because it seems to be the first issue everyone runs to when addressing the topic of church attendance and relevancy. It seems that a lot of churches, when searching for a new worship leader, are looking for an attendance messiah that will magically fill the chairs (because they ripped out all the pews) with droves of people who have been won by relevancy… Sadly, I don’t think that works out for most church because… Relevancy (at least in its pop cultural sense) doesn’t woo people to the church…the Gospel does. There was nothing remotely relevant about John the Baptist but his message was relevant for everyone.

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