I just finished reading a draft to endorse George Barna’s new book Rechurching the Unchurched. Not the best title, but one that aptly describes the book. It has some very interesting facts drawn from his two years of research with the unchurched. I thought I would share a few of the ones I found very interesting.
1. Advertizing doesn’t do much good anymore so don’t waste the money.
2. The number one reason now that people do not see validity in churches is the hypocrites inside.
3. Less then 5% said they would go to a church due to programs or ministry.
4. 2 out of 3 people said that the number one reason they would keep attending a church was the openness and friendliness of the people. Remaining at a church largely depends on the caring nature of the people.
5. Only one out of two people can recall the name of a church within 15 minutes driving distance of their church.
6. Less than 3% of Chicago knows the name of Bill Hybels so don’t try to build your church on the personality of your pastor.
7. The unchurched’s favorite way to be referred to is “inquirer.”
People are still more likely to return if invited by a friend, not the pastor, but only 73% are never invited. Of those who are 4% will attend.
The number one thing a church can do to position itself to attract the unchurched is to work with the poor; focusing on the family was second.
More people like a blend of traditional and contemporary than any other style. Those under 35 who like traditional hymns also like them played with an electric guitar.
There were many others, but these are the ones I can remember. Buy the book when it comes out.
I did have some thoughts though when finishing the book. Here are some of them:
The greatest words a church leader could ever say over and over is “Invite a friend to church every Sunday and make God smile.” The second greatest words would be “Love one another as Christ has loved you.”
Isn’t it interesting that we spend billions of dollars on construction and we seldom do the simple things like inviting our friends or going out of our way to show kindness to the person in the pew next to us or working with us in a meeting, or debating with us in a board meeting. Barna’s research adds credence to my choice in the first unfreezing move in my new book. I think if I was pastor again, I would spend far more time emphasizing the Bring A Friend concept, not the program, but the concept. I would build it into the fabric of the Body life. It would be part of the membership process – can’t join till you’ve brought a friend. Sort of a an initiation fee (have to think about that).
The more I think on this the more I would spend time encouraging people, especially the leaders, to go out of their way to do acts of kindness. I would use Sjorgren’s Random Acts of Kindness program. I would build serious community building into every meeting . At board meetings I would devote at least an hour to setting around tables having dinner, having people share with one another. I would develop “Lovers Unlimited”. This group would have as their mantra “Be kind to someone every day.” Their goal would be to love someone into the kingdom every year.
I would have a Lovers Banquet every year in which the people told their stories of how the friendship and caring changed their lives as well as the lives of others around them. In other words, I would devote endless hours to developing a culture of nurture and caring and acceptance. I would avoid the word grace, because inquirers do not know it. I would use the words tolerance and kindness.
I hope I have planted some seeds that might germinate in your churches.