Surprising Insights from UnChurched

In Thom Rainer's book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, he discusses three different surveys that give us some perspective from why unchurched people choose a church to what keeps them active. Interesting stuff!

Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier)

90% - Pastor/Preaching
88% - Doctrines
49% - Friendliness of Members
42% - Other Issues
41% - Someone Church Witnessed to Me
38% - Family Member
37% - Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
25% - Relationship Other than Family Member
25% - Sunday School Class
25% - Children’s/Youth Ministry
12% - Other Groups/Ministries
11% - Worship Style/Music
7% - Location

Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church
(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)

58% - Doctrine/Theology
53% - People Caring for Each Other
52% - Preaching
45% - Friendliness
45% - Children’s Programs
43% - Helping the Poor
36% - Denomination
35% - Like the Pastor
26% - Sunday School

Top 6 Things that Keep the Formerly Unchurched Active in the Church
(research conducted by Ranier)

62% - Ministry Involvement
55% - Sunday School
54% - Obedience to God
49% - Fellowship of Members
38% - Pastor/Preaching
14% - Worship Services

Doctrine, Pastor's messages, and the friendliness and fellowship of the congregation hold the most influential qualities.

Does this surprise you?

(ht to Church Relevance)

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4 Responses to “Surprising Insights from UnChurched”

  1. # Anonymous Travis Thompson

    I'm actually shocked that small groups aren't mentioned. I haven't read the book - are small groups included in the "Sunday School" category?  

  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I'm really not suprised about the pastor/preaching category. I have heard Ed Stetzer say that people will first make a commitment to the pastor, then to the church, and lastly to Jesus. It seems that people want to know that we "pastors" are real, and then want the relationship with Christ after finding us to be genuine.  

  3. # Anonymous Shane Kennard

    Here are some immediate thoughts from what you shared. We see this played out in different areas of society:

    * Work. We enjoy starting work because we have an awesome boss. We enjoy staying there because we feel like we make a difference.
    * School. We enjoy a class because of an awesome teacher. We enjoy an education because it makes a visible difference in our life.
    * Play. We enjoy a sports team, band, etc because of the coach, conductor. We enjoy the sport because it makes a difference.

    Maybe this is the model we see in Acts also. 3,000 people went from unchurched to churched in a day. Why? Peter's message. They stuck around because in Acts 6 they had involvement. People were saved at the hands of Paul. They stuck around because Paul urged them (even prodded them) to a task.

    There is clear tie between coming because of a "personality" and sticking because of "involvement." We must hold both in tension with each other. We see churches blow up because it was based on personality and not involvement. We see churches work themselves to death because of involvement and not personality. To find the "razor's edge" is the key.  

  4. # Anonymous Matt Borja

    There is another aspect to this as well. Here is an excerpt on an article I wrote to expound on these survey results a little better:

    "What sets one independent, fundamental, Bible believing church apart from another independent, fundamental, Bible believing church is the number of opportunities the members thereof have for the adoption of the work of God, or what I call ministry involvement.

    ...cultivate a sense of ownership for the work that they do and to hold them as much responsible for the success of their efforts as they would be held responsible for the cause of their failures."

    You can read the whole article here:

    It again builds off the survey results, what one commenter said and Acts 6 to draw the conclusion that what we do to bring them in and what we do to keep them in are two completely different things and are centered around ministry involvement and ownership. A good read.  

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