What reasons would draw Americans to church? Survey reveals


If invited by their friends, Americans who don't go to church said they would attend an event to help make a neighbourhood safer if it is sponsored by a local Christian church rather than go to a worship service, a recent survey showed.

The Lifeway Research conducted an online poll among 2,000 unchurched Americans to know about their faith.

It showed that these Americans are mostly indifferent to organised religion, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

"Unchurched Americans aren't hostile to faith," he said. "They just don't think church is for them."

It defined "unchurched" as someone who has not attended a worship service in the last six months, outside of a holiday or special occasion like a wedding.

Among them, two-thirds or 67 percent are white, 53 percent are male. Almost two-thirds or 62 percent said they went to church regularly as a child.

Researchers posed different activities unchurched Americans might be interested in if invited by their friends to an event organised by a local Christian church.

Lifeway Research said 62 percent would attend a church meeting about neighbourhood safety while 51 percent would take part in a community service event.

A total of 45 percent said they would attend a concert, 46 percent would be drawn to sports or exercise programme and 45 percent to a neighbourhood get-together at a church.

"Concerns for neighbourhood safety and desire to express compassion to the under-resourced seem to be the biggest potential draws for the unchurched to get connected to a church," said Rick Richardson, professor of evangelism and leadership at Wheaton College. "Invite unchurched people to those kinds of events, and many say they will attend."

Only 35 percent said they are interested in attending a worship service, recovery group (25 percent) and seminar on a spiritual topic (24 percent) if invited.

Half (51 percent) said they would agree to attend church through a personal invitation by a friend or family member. Other methods are not effective: a church member knocking on the door (21 percent), a TV commercial (23 percent), postcard (23 percent) or Facebook ad (18 percent).

A total of 67 percent said they are unlikely to attend church regularly sometime in the near future.

When asked the reason why they decided not to attend church regularly, 25 percent said they only attended because their parents wanted them to; 23 percent said they lost interest, and 21 percent said they were turned off by the moral stances of the church. Twenty percent said they lost trust in the church and 20 percent said they got too busy in their life.

However, unchurched Americans are not turned off when it comes to discussing faith, according to the survey.

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.

Seven of 10 believe there is an ultimate plan and purpose for every person while 19 percent disagreed.

Almost 6 in 10 (57 percent) said it's important they find a deeper purpose in life while 31 percent disagreed.