Church is widely regarded as a regular action that can assist one in cultivating his or her faith, while subsequently experiencing personal benefits. While this characterization may hold validity for some, there’s a new study out that shows that, for nearly half of attendees, church isn’t doing anything to impact or change individuals’ lives.
According to the Barna Group, an evangelical company that studies faith in America, nearly half (46 percent) of churchgoing Americans report that their lives have not changed at all as a result of attending church. While this is startling, 26 percent of individuals who reported having been to church before said that their lives had been changed or impacted “greatly” by the experience; 25 percent said that church was “somewhat” influential.
In addition to seeking changes in life, individuals also attend church so that they can connect with God. Most people do, indeed, feel like they have had “a real and personal connection” with the Almighty while sitting in the pews. Despite this majority find, nearly one-third of individuals report not having ever felt God’s presence while attending church. Barna has more:
One-third of all adults in the country report connecting with God at least monthly (35%) via a congregational setting. Among those who attend church every week, 44% said they experience God’s presence every week and 18% do so on a monthly basis.
There’s no doubt that Christians — like adherents of other faiths — go to church so that they can educate themselves on their faith, while building a relationship with God. One’s life, in the context of faith, likely won’t change if he or she doesn’t better grasp the tenets of the system which they are a part of.
Considering the large portion of churchgoers who felt no impact on their lives as a result of attending, the fact that most people can’t recall gaining new spiritual insights isn’t entirely surprising. Six-in-ten church attenders, when asked to recount their last visit to a house of worship, couldn’t remember any significant insight they gained related to their faith. Even more startling, among those who attended church in the past week, half said that they couldn’t recall any spiritual tidbits.
These results offer an overall picture that should concern pastors and faith leaders, but there were some positives. The majority of people feel connected to their church community. Additionally, people see their churches as caring for and being engaged with the poor — an important facet of Biblical teaching.
Barna Group president David Kinnaman reports that many Christians do, indeed, see the benefits that churches offer of connecting with God and other believers.
“Yet, the research results are also a reminder that faith leaders cannot take these things for granted,” Kinnaman said. “Millions of active participants find their church experiences to be lacking.”
(H/T: Huffington Post)