I have been in the pastoral ministry for sixteen years. I have seen a lot of things in those years; some good and some not so good. One of the disturbing trends that I have seen is the lack of church attendance by professing Christians. For whatever reason, people are choosing to not attend organized religious services. The reasons are many. There are some who would say that attending church is not worth their time. There are some who would say that they can worship God apart from organized religion. There are some who would say that they will attend a church service if they can fit it into their already busy schedule. David Kinnaman and George Barna tackle this phenomenon in their latest book, “Churchless; Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them.”
The content of this book is the compilation of a five year study which surveyed 20,000 unchurched and churched adults. As a result of this study, Kinnaman and Barna demonstrate that Americans fall into one of four categories as it relates to their relationship to the church.
1. The Actively Churched are those who attend church on a regular basis, meaning one a month or more.
2. The Minimally Churched are those who attend church services several times a year and whose attendance patterns are unpredictable.
3. The de-Churched are those who have been “churched” in the past but are now taking a break from the church. The authors discovered that this group is the fastest growing segment.
4. The Purely Unchurched are those who never attend a Christian worship service.
Kinnaman and Barna utilize eleven chapters to give their readers an in-depth look at those who made up their survey. They include topics such as demographics and self-descriptions of churchless people, what the unchurched think about religion, religious behaviors of churchless people, religious beliefs that define unchurched people’s faith, the paradox of trusting Christ but not the local church, understanding why people leave the church, family life among unchurched people, and goals, morals, and values of churchless adults.
Churchless has more positive notes than negative. The book does a great job of highlighting a sobering reality that the church is facing today. The authors also link to their website where their readers can gain access to color slides for further presentation. The greatest negative I would say is that the book left me asking “What do I do with this information?” It’s kind of like a doctor telling you that you are sick but not offering any medication to make you well. All in all Churchless is a great work. Church leaders would benefit greatly from reading this work.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”