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In his new book America at the Crossroads (Baker Books), George Barna offers a disturbing survey of the trends impacting American culture and the challenges they pose to the church. In one chapter he offers insights about the unchurched, including these data points:

* “46 percent of adults are now unchurched – an increase from the 35 percent in 2005.”

* “62 percent of the unchurched consider themselves to be Christian.”

* “59 percent of Americans disconnect from church life either permanently or for a prolonged period of time between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine.”

* “48 percent of the unchurched indicate they are not connected to a church because it provides no value.”

* “14 percent of unchurched people said they are open to trying a new church.”

Barna adds these observations: “Attracting churchless people to corporate faith usually requires more than a few incremental refinements in outreach strategy and tactics. This is about more than improved marketing and having greeters at the church’s front door.

“Churches are facing a radically different outreach environment than existed a decade ago, including an antagonistic media that continually portrays churches in a negative light. The unchurched population is substantially larger and has a different demographic profile than in the past. To penetrate that population, churches must raise their game to meet more demanding and sophisticated expectations than ever. And, in most cases, the church community will have one shot at persuading the churchless to return for another experience.”


Dr. Michael Duduit is executive and founding editor of Preaching magazine and the founding dean of the Graduate School of Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. He holds an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

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