Survey: Half of churchgoers' lives not affected by time in pews

January 17, 2012

c. 2012 Religion News Service
(RNS) Almost half of churchgoing Americans say their life has not changed a bit
due to their time in the pews, a new survey shows.


Barna Group, an evangelical company based in California, found that 46
percent reported no change. About a quarter of Americans said their life was
greatly affected by church attendance and another quarter said it was somewhat
influential.


Two-thirds of respondents said they had felt "a real and personal
connection" with God while attending church.


Among weekly church attenders, 44 percent said they felt God's presence
every week and 18 percent said they had that experience once a month.


In a finding sure to disappoint pastors, three out of five church attenders
said they could not recall an important new religious insight from their last
church visit. Of those who attended in the previous week, 50 percent could not
recall walking away with a significant new understanding.


David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, said the research shows that many
churchgoers see the benefits of connecting with God and others in congregations.


"Yet, the research results are also a reminder that faith leaders cannot
take these things for granted," he said. "Millions of active participants find
their church experiences to be lacking."


The survey results are based on a random sample of 1,022 adults and have a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.