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National “Back to Church” Sunday

I happened to stumble on a link to this site:

back to church sunday

while researching a topic for the girls’ camp devotional I helped with this week. What an interesting read!

The site, http// is promoting a Christian “Back to Church” Sunday. It lists a number of extremely interesting statistics from a variety of sources regarding church activity. I’ll share a few they mentioned below:

82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited – Dr Thom Rainer

Wow! Somewhat likely??? Or more! I wonder knowing this might help some members be less afraid to invite friends to activities.

“Four percent of formerly churched adults are actively looking for a church to attend regularly (other than their previous church). Six percent would prefer to resume attending regularly in the same church they had attended. The largest group, 62 percent, is not actively looking, but is open to the idea of attending church regularly again.”–Scott McConnell, Lifeway Research

I’m a little suspicious of this one. I didn’t find this to be my experience with “previously churched” adults when I was Relief Society President. I think people are *reporting* they are open to the idea of attending church again, but are simply not willing to interrupt whatever they’ve gotten used to doing on Sundays to come out –most of these “formerly churched” feel they should think Church attendance is important, but it’s not important enough for them right now. While most were not antagonistic (you might say “open”), they found the church and its members more of a nuisance. I did see people come back to activity in the Church, but never as many as 6%. Out of 400 members, we had probably 3 return to activity that were not attending. That’s around 1%. If you count just less actives, the percentage is about 3$. Now if you count people who came out regularly for 1 month, it could be as high as 6% of total members, but in the LDS Church, many of us wouldn’t call that active.

The top “rational” reason adults seldom or never attend church is they don’t agree with organized religion or what they preach (24 percent). The top “practical” reasons for hardly attending or missing church altogether, 21 percent said they don’t have time or they don’t get around to it. – Thom Rainer

I would have guessed these, but it’s interesting to see the stats.

…many would respond to an invitation from a friend or acquaintance (41 percent), their children (25 percent) or an adult family member (25 percent). – McConnell, LifeWay Research

I think it’s interesting that people are almost twice as likely to respond to an invitation from a friend as from a family member. And based on this, you have somewhat less than a 1 in 2 chance of getting a friend to respond to an invitation to Church. I’d say that’s about right in my experience. Most politely decline, but not by a huge majority.

10% of first time visitors become regulars; 25% of second time visitors become regulars; 45% of third time visitors become regulars

Guess there’s something to that old saying about getting people in the Church 7 times and they’ll join :). I do think this one is pretty accurate based on my experiences on the missionary committee. I used to whine a lot to the missionaries about the (ridiculous) mission rule that members attend Church twice before baptism. ONLY TWICE? What on Earth? And from then on, they’ll be expected to go EVERY SUNDAY FOR THREE HOURS, give 10% of their income to the Church, strive to attend the temple, plus hold a calling! Not to mention change all their friends and leisure activities. We were setting up new members for disaster, and, as you’d expect, of the about 15-10 convert baptisms we had only 4 are active now. And 2 of those were married to other members. So as far as tracted into converts, we have exactly 2 that are still attending — fits right in with these stats.

I hope the DC South mission president reads this and alters that policy. It’s not realistic. And I have some opinions on your “hold your Primary president responsible for referrals in ward counsel” yap, too. But I’ll save that for another time 🙂

Fewer than 1 in 5 formerly churched adults confess to being “a devout Christian with a strong belief in God”(19 percent) and a somewhat smaller number are wavering on Christianity (10 percent) or belief in God at all (6 percent).

I think this is the real reason people don’t attend. They don’t have a solid relationship with God, and so they don’t feel that need to commune with Him. Church doesn’t seem relevant or important. I love the Young Women program’s emphasis on Divine Nature and Individual Worth. As soon as you understand — really understand — who you are, a Child of the Most High God, everything changes: your attitude about yourself, your attitude about church, your willingness to serve, your hope for the future, your willingness to forgive, your self-esteem increases…. I could go on and on. Ultimately, it should be the first priority of all religions to help people develop a personal relationship with God. The YW program seems to do a good job of this, but I don’t see it happening in our other auxiliaries.


There’s a lot of information to be gleaned from the stats above. I guess I’d sum it up this way: Don’t be afraid to extend an invitation to your friends — most of them are open to it. Slightly more than half will decline your invitation, but around 40% may say yes! but one invitation isn’t enough, since around 90% of first time visitors never come back after that first visit. Don’t wait on them to beg to come back–ask again! The best prevention of inactivity is helping members develop a personal relationship with God.

The article on the Back to Church Sunday has lots more interesting statistics, including a link to why 70% of 18-22 year olds go inactive that I may blog on later.

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Post Date: June 25, 2010
Author: Jenny Smith


Jenny Smith
Jenny Smith is a designer who started blogging in 2004 to share lesson and activity ideas with members of her home branch Mississippi. Her collection has grown, and she now single-handedly manages the world's largest collection of free lesson help for LDS teachers with faceted search. Her library includes teaching techniques, object lessons, mini lessons, handouts, visual aids, and doctrinal mastery games categorized by scripture reference and gospel topic. Jenny loves tomatoes, Star Trek, and her family -- not necessarily in that order.
Jenny Smith is a designer, blogger, and tomato enthusiast who lives in Virginia on a 350+ acre farm with her husband and one very grouchy cat.
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