New survey ranks welcoming top factor in church choice

The Barna Group, on behalf of United Methodist Communications, recently published the findings of a new study  on spiritual “seekers” and their top motivations for considering a church.  The top reasons? Knowing that everyone will be welcomed (32%), making friends and nurturing friendships (29%),  during difficult times (28%) and learning more about God (27%). Less motivating are opportunities for Bible study, volunteer opportunities, discussions of issues and topics and the provision of child care. (Download the  helpful infographic here.)

Looking for genuine community

“The findings point to a desire for genuine community,” said Dan Krause, general secretary of United Methodist Communications. “About three-quarters of those who might visit a church said that having friendly and welcoming people might cause them to continue attending.”

The model of waiting for people to walk through our doors on Sunday morning no longer works as the

primary model for inviting people into our church.  We have to go where people are, build community there and invite them to join us at our church.  Where do you find these spiritual seekers?  Two-thirds spend free time at restaurants and coffee houses, especially high-income earners and those without children, while parents are more often found at parks. More than 90% use smartphones and Internet daily, while 83% use social media every day and about half watch TV or listen to radio.

“This data provides insights into how and where churches can connect with people who may be looking for a faith community where they can belong,” said Krause. The infographic gives quick insight to this finding.

The survey included people aged 25-49 who consider themselves spiritual, socially conscious and seeking meaning in their lives, but who are not affiliated with a church.

The study was conducted in November 2017 and included 606 interviews with a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults drawn from an online panel. Individuals on the panel were screened to identify people who met criteria identifying them as a “seeker.”

(This article is adapted from the original from United Methodist Communications and Leading Ideas from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.)

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