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-People Don’t Get Anything Out of Attending Church?

by Dr. D ~ January 16th, 2012

A picture of Pisgah Baptist Church in Four Oak...

                                             (Image via Wikipedia)

Some startling claims have come out on the Internet in response to a new survey of church going Americans by the Barna Group. The conclusions drawn by many writers is that the new study proves that going to church doesn’t do anything positive for people.

However, when you go directly to the Barna website and view the study, one can easily come to vastly different conclusions than what is popularly showing up on some of the atheist and secularist blogs.

First of all, do people get anything out of going to church?


1.  According to the study, 66%  “feel they have had a real and personal connection with God” while attending church. However, most do not experience that connection every week in worship services.

2.  The study also shows that nearly seven out of 10 respondents (68%) feel they are cared for as “part of a group of people who are united in their beliefs and who take care of each other in practical ways.”

Now for the not so positive. This first point is the one emphasized by most of the negative posts. The survey found that most church goers say that they lives have not been changed or transformed by the church experience.

1.  Overall, only 26%  who had been to a church before said that “their life had been changed or affected “greatly” by attending church.” Another 25% described it as “somewhat” influential. while nearly half  (46%) said their life “had not changed at all as a result of churchgoing.”

2.  Concerning their last few visits, 61% said “they could not remember a significant or important new insight or understanding related to faith.”

3.   The survey also examined whether attendees believe that their church prioritizes caring for the poor outside of the congregation.  40% said caring for the poor was emphasized “a lot” in their church while 33% indicated it was only “somewhat” of a priority.

Some other interesting data was also explored by the study.

1.  The size of the church didn’t seem to matter much.

2.  Those in the 18 to 27 age group were “significantly less likely to describe positive outcomes while attending congregations.”

3.  Among ‘practicing Christians’, Catholics generally had “less positive outcomes in their congregational experiences than did Protestant attenders.”

Response: The somewhat crazy responses around the Internet to this study really prove why it is so important to go back to the original study and website for your information rather than solely relying on reports that many times are slanted.

In this case, a number of atheist sites decided to emphasize the one point in the study that seemed to indicate that church goers really didn’t get anything out of the experience and were not substantially changed in the process. One point that most the the writers missed was that the ‘new insight’ question only was directed at recent visits and not the entire lifetime of church going experience.

The Barna Group is an evangelical research organization whose reason for existence is to show churches and Christian organizations where improvements need to be made. This is not the first time that secularists or atheists have used Barna research in a slanted way against Christians, churches, and Christianity.             *Top

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