A fresh look at the unchurched

As new ways of connecting and engaging with faith community emerge, defining what is “unchurched” becomes a good deal more complicated, as noted in a new Barna Group research study:

Popular measures such as the percentage of people who are “unchurched” – based on attendance at a conventional church service – are out of date. Various new forms of faith community and experience, such as house churches, marketplace ministries and cyberchurches, must be figured into the mix – and make calculating the percentage of Americans who can be counted as “unchurched” more complicated. The fact that millions of people are now involved in multiple faith communities – for instance, attending a conventional church one week, a house church the next, and interacting with an online faith community in-between – has rendered the standard measures of “churched” and “unchurched” much less precise.

Trying to accommodate these variables, Barna developed new categories. The traditional categories of “churched” and “unchurched” have been redefined as “conventional” and “unattached,” and in between are new descriptions:

  • Intermittents, or the “underchurched”
  • Homebodies, who are more likely to attend house churches
  • Blenders, who go back and forth between house churches and conventional churches.
  • The study (which, it should be noted, also asserted that unchurched folks are more likely to be stressed out, liberal, pessimistic, and not willing to assert the accuracy of the bible, among other things) also noted that churchgoers are more likely to interact with faith community in new ways, such as through web sites or special ministry events.

    You can read about it here.

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