Drive by the parking lot of many churches on Sunday morning and count the empty slots. Church attendance seems to be in decline, and many no longer consider church attendance a viable investment of time. Perhaps it is time we ask, “Why?”
In Churchless, George Barna and David Kinnaman give a look into the thoughts and practices of both the churched and unchurched. The book is stuffed with survey results, statistics, and charts but the data is presented in a digestible format. Don’t think boring lab report. Think useful answer book.
Who are the unchurched? What do they think? What are their goals? Why do they avoid church? How do they differ from the churched? Some may shy away from such pointed questions, but these authors do not. Barna and Kinnaman present the results of their multi-year conversations and interviews in an easy-to-read format.
Be prepared for some shockers. For example, Churchless tells readers a two-decade shift in attendance patterns now gives this definition of a churchgoer, “Today a regular churchgoer shows up for worship once every four to six weeks.”
As a service to readers the authors have provided a website where color copies of many of the charts may be downloaded for use in presentations. Additionally each chapter ends with a Forward Thinking section offering insightful questions to foster discussion.
I would recommend Churchless to anyone seeking an understanding of the trends around us. Pastors, elders, and church leadership teams may benefit from a study of the text followed by realistic conversation on what is working and not working in the organization’s outreach and ministry.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Barna and Kinnaman have done the research to ask the unchurched what appeals to them and what turns them off in organized religion. Is it time to adjust our methods? Read Churchless, and prayerfully consider the data.