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The Barna Group encounters another group who don’t attend church

The Barna Group encounters another group who don’t attend church

The conservative research and polling group, Barna, have encountered a separate group of folks in the US who do not attend church. We are most all aware of the group Spiritual, but Not Religious (SBNR). The largest segment of the folks that identifies as SBNR are the Millenials. However, the Millennials have dropped out of most religions, not just Christianity. But the Barna Group has found that there is another group of unchurched folks and they are not Millennials and they are not SBNRs. Have you heard of the group that Love Jesus, but Not the Church (LJNC)?

Barna Group developed research/polling tools to use in our increasingly secular culture where almost 50% don’t affiliate with the Church. There is a group out there in the US who have religious beliefs and aren’t affiliating with churches. They believe in God and practice their faith on their own, apart from the Church. The largest cohort in this group of LJNC are the Baby Boomers, followed by the Gen Xers, and the majority of them are women. (See above.)

If you go over to the Barna Group website, the report is easy to read and the findings are mapped out in attractive, easy to understand graphics. It is a fascinating read! And perhaps it has food for thought for those who are among us who seek to attract folks to the Church. Or in this case, back to the Church.

One area that I was particularly interested in was the spiritual practices of the LJNC folks. The findings point to these folks shunning the authoritative sources of religious faith, such as the Bible or religious books, but incorporating a number of informal practices into their lives.

The full report is available at the Barna Group. The charts are from the report.


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Paul Woodrum

True religion and undefiled is expensive. Mainline churches don’t make much of an effort to welcome the poor who can’t do much to fill the coffers. But they do have their storefront churches where they comfort one another. I wonder how many of these folks are included in all these surveys.

Anne Bay

I have seen the change from people thinking that being religious meant “what church do you go to” to not asking at all and the issue of spirituality is a mute point. The young people I know do not even discuss spirituality. The premise is that they are more private about their spirituality if they have that or if they don’t. They are very respectful of a person’s private business, spiritual or otherwise. And this is a good thing to me. I think in the future what we used to call “house churches” will be common. Or going to Yosemite to meditate. The days of supporting a whole church plant with all the costs: salaries, cost of the buildings, utilities, maintenance costs, pledge drives, and on is not going to be sustainable. I think part of it has to do with we are now living in a fast paced age and it is just getting more intense and in overdrive!! So, to spend the hours and hours that parishioners did when I was growing up of volunteering at the church are over. These days women (who did the bulk of the work) are on the same plane as men-or at least we’re trying to head in that direction-and the time to get a job outside the home, continuing education, family responsibility (which may include looking after elderly parents), etc. precludes the hours women used to have available for “church” work. Many of the young people I have gotten to know have no interest in anything relating to spiritual or religious matters. The pressure of meeting today’s challenges for these young people has just gotten the worst it’s ever been due to the policies of Trump and his dismantling safeguards for seniors, children, students, etc. The first President of the U.S. I remember is JFK. Since then we have had quite a variety of national issues and differences in presidencies, but nothing could have prepared me for the devastation of our country that Trump is doing. A country by and for and only for billionaires. As the mother of one of these young people, Trump’s dismantling of our country sends more fear up my spine and makes me nautious to think of what is happening to our young people, including my daughter. And to add further shsame to Trump’s mockery of the world, his last marriage was done by an Episcopal priest in Florida. Clearly Trump has no clue or knowledge of anything related to theology or the history of the church, so why he was married by that priest I don’t have a clue. Of all the issues facing us, spirituality is taking a back seat and I think it’s permanently changed.

leslie marshall

Being a follower of Jesus includes being in community with other believers. [But that doesn’t mean you have to meet in a particular building on Sunday.] You can meet for bible study, meet for prayer, or meet to serve. What’s important is to support ea other, share resources, make disciples and also hold each other accountable. Going it alone, is not what The Shepherd has in mind for his Sheep, it’s dangerous out there!

David Carver

It’s dangerous to go alone – take this, the sword of the Spirit.

Chris Harwood

It may be dangerous, but the “sheep” can be worse.
Take a look at Bishop Dan Edwards’ blog post “Can’t Go Home Again” from Dec. 2012. Only a church that REALLY wants to and works hard to get them back, will. Most won’t. His examples are a bit too loud, really. Just admitting you’re single and/or have no kids will get you shunned at most churches around here. Any denomination, doesn’t matter. Perhaps I should say “shunning lite” as they’ll talk during the peace and pretend you don’t exist the rest of the time.

Patricia McAtee Lackey

Ann Fontaine, exactly. I was surprised that the author of this article did not hone in on the glaring fact that it is WOMEN who are ditching the church. And why? For exactly the reason you pointed out. And this was borne out by the very fact that the author only passingly commented on women–as usual.

leslie marshall

But women still outnumber men in church attendance. 61% vs 39%. [And 25% of married women attend church without their husbands.] Attendance at midweek church activities are usually 70+% female.

Ann Fontaine

Not too surprising that women are the largest part of the Love Jesus, Not the Church group — who needs church that regularly sees one as someone to do the all the grunt work but not worthy enough to be a leader.

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