Some Statistics On the Number of Unchurched in US

 


Here are some statistics about the unchurched from The Tangible Kingdom.

  • "The Barna group reveals that one-third of the adult population (34 percent) has not attended any type of church service or activity, other than a special event such as a funeral or wedding, during the past six months. Citing past research that discovered most unchurched adults were formerly churched, the new study indicates that six out of ten unchurched people (62 percent) consider themselves to be Christian, four percent say they are Jewish, four percent are associated with an Eastern religion, and 24 percent say they are atheist."
  • The most recent research studies by the Barna Group "reveals that one out of every three adults (33 percent) is classified as unchurched--meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months. When these statistics are projected across the aggregate adult population, the numbers are staggering. An estimated 73 million adults are presently unchurched. When teens and children are added, the total swells to roughly 100 million Americans."
  • "Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by 15 percent. During that same period the number of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled, rising from 39 million to 75 million--a 92 percent increase."
  • "In America, it takes the combined effort of eighty-five Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert."

What do you think is causing the dramatic rise in the number of unchurched in the US? What do you think that we can do to slow or reverse this trend?

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Tags: statistics, unchurched

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Comment by Ann Dunagan on March 12, 2011 at 12:58pm

God bless you Ryan!!! I really appreciate hearing your examples and testimonies and hearing a few specifics of "how" you're reaching out to be a bridge to bring people back to Jesus. I especially appreciate the comment, "You just have to show up, be available, and listen carefully for the voice of God. It's truly a new adventure every day." AMEN!!!

 

May He continue to direct your steps, and your ministry.

Comment by Ryan Lloyd on March 12, 2011 at 12:04pm
I appreciate the discussion here.  It helps me to process a lot of what God has shown me over the last two years in specific.  I wanted to share something with you on the topic of "short-term" missions.  There have been a few men and women of peace that God has sent me directly to.  As our friendship grew, I found out they had dropped out from other existing churches.  I never encouraged them to come to our services.  I just let them know where and what time and focused on their obedience and friendship with God.  We baptized one person and restored three people in 2010 that never worshipped with us but chose to go back where they were or found a new congregation.  God simply used us to bridge these people Him.  I dont hear from these 4 people very often but they have a place in my heart eternally and when I do hear from them our relationship is still very stong and we are able to encourage each other.  From my experience of walking in the projects 4 days a week, you never know what God will put in front of you.  You just have to show up, be available and listen carefully for the voice of God.  It's truly a new adventure every day.  We do more "long-term" work than "short-term" but there is a blend of both.
Comment by Ann Dunagan on March 8, 2011 at 12:57pm
Yes. There are different callings in the body of Christ. We're all called to help expand the kingdom of God in whatever sphere of influence we're called to reach. But our "jobs" and specialties will be different. Some are called to do the work of an evangelist. some do church-planting. some pastor. some teach. some fly airplanes. some are business leaders or workers. A "missionary" is simply one that works for God in a different cultural setting than his or her own home-place of comfort. But that title doesn't limit a person's particular calling, gifting, or anointing.
Comment by James Nored on March 8, 2011 at 12:33pm

Ann, you are correct that God can use a single encounter with people for great good. Steve Sjogren talks about how it takes something like 20 acts of kindness and God encounters for most people to come to faith. We can be one of those 20.

 

What you are doing around the world and in the US is incredible. It must be so fulfilling to be able to share Jesus with all of those different people in different locales. Awesome!

 

My point is more about the role of a local missionary to a particular people. These groups have to see that we are committed to them and their people group in order to have a long term impact. This is an approach that long term missionaries and local church planters would do well to adopt. Your role is different, and clearly God is using you and your family in powerful ways. Your work may be what opens the door for a long term missionary--sewing seeds that God will make blossom.

Comment by Ann Dunagan on March 8, 2011 at 12:24pm
P.S. You can see highlights of our church's sidewalk children's VBS-style outreach here: (you have to go to our church's website -- go to MISSIONS, local, then XTREME KIDZ. You can also see our weekly community outreach here (led by our newlywed son & daughter), called REACH OUT!)
Comment by Ann Dunagan on March 8, 2011 at 12:01pm

James. Not trying be argumentative, but I think your statement that "we must be a long term presence to really have an impact" is not always true. I believe that sometimes God may call someone to continue reaching a particular area, and to keep going -- again-and-again -- and to remain there. But in other situations, God may call us to go to someone just once. Perhaps God may lead a group to keep going -- door-to-door throughout a city (but that means that they might not "keep going" back, over-and-over, to one particular person or home).

 

God may also call us to take a short-term outreach, or to share the Gospel "on the fly" (perhaps in a grocery store, or at a gas station, or to a stranger in an elevator who we may never see again). I don't think we can put God in a box. Each of us just needs to be OBEDIENT and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps our little "seed" or random one-time-impact could be a strategic "part" of a long-term plan of God's Holy Spirit working on their lives.

 

I even think about Jesus, and a time in Luke 4:42-44, when people were looking for Jesus. They wanted Him to keep going back to the same area; however, Jesus had spent time in prayer to find God's plan. The direction was, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." I see this example as the EVANGELIST-side of Jesus (which my husband and I can relate to) but Jesus also had His wonderful PASTORAL-SHEPHERD-side, which kept ministering to the same 12 disciples, over and over!!!

 

And as for your question. Our experience overseas simply has given us a heart for the lost. There's this one cool quote by C.T. Studd which says, "The light that shines the farthest, shines the brightest closest to home." We want to be a light throughout the world, but also one-by-one. Sharing here also keep everything in perspective. This past month, our family has preached on a remote island, to small crowds of about 20-30 to several hundred in remote Indian villages), on the streets, in our home (to several, and to groups of several dozen friends), to big crowds (of 8,000 to 10,000 in a city-outreach to Bududa, Uganda), in an African high school (to about 600 students), and one-on-one. The combo definitely keeps it all in perspective. God does care about numbers, as each number is a precious person, so deeply loved. But just as Jesus preached to multitudes, and to individuals (like the Samaritan woman, or Nicodemus at night) we also need to be willing to do whatever. big. little. one-time. multiple-times. not giving up. not putting God in a box. whatever. JUST willing and obedient.

Comment by James Nored on March 8, 2011 at 10:11am
Ann, please keep sharing what you are doing to reach out! The "sidewalk" VBS kids programs sounds interesting. How does this work? I'm interested in knowing how you are using your overseas experience to reach out here.
Comment by James Nored on March 8, 2011 at 10:04am
Ryan, what an incredible story. I found one of the things that you related to be key. The people you were reaching out to in the projects asked, How long will you be here? Missional, incarnational ministry cannot be fly by night. We must be a long term presence to really have an impact. This consistent presence led to some people opening up their hearts and homes. A VBS in their neighborhood. A worship service in their homes. Then on to the community center. This is truly missional. Awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing, Ryan.
Comment by Ann Dunagan on March 7, 2011 at 7:25pm

Ryan -- sounds like you and your friends are truly loving people, and being faithful. I really appreciate the time you took to share these examples. Our church has been doing sidewalk VBS kids programs too. I like your idea about the prayer cards. The other day, I gave a hot cocoa to a lady who's dog had just died that day, and she was really wanting prayer.

 

Ministering overseas often leads to lots of people surrendering their lives to Jesus, and lots of exciting testimonies; but right now (even with my son and his new wife currently in India, and my husband just back from Africa), the Lord is also stirring us to keep reaching out here locally. It's planting seeds, and it's also working on the hearts of those who are volunteering.

 

I'm delighted that you received the books, and that they've been a blessing to you. Appreciate the report, and the kind encouragement.

 

 

Comment by Ryan Lloyd on March 7, 2011 at 6:52pm
Ann, thank you for your words. On our very best day all we will ever do is plant seeds for God. Our job truly is to trust in God and stay faithful to Him and the people He sends us to. God sent me and 15 other volunteers into two housing projects a year ago. We "broke ground" by walking the streets and leaving prayer request cards on every door and picking them back up the next day without ever knocking any doors. When people saw us on the streets they would ask us what we were doing and we told them God sent us to pray for everyone in this neighborhood. Then we would pray for that person and any requests we had on the spot. This process was slow.

After four months of this, people kept asking how long we would be there. We told them we were not going anywhere and were there to stay. People slowly started opening up to us and checking us out. What they needed more than anything was a listening ear, an open heart and a genuine friend to love on them. They were not interested in church services or anything else but they craved someone to listen to them. During this same time we held a one hour long "VBS" in an open field across the street every Sunday for the kids.

This started about 15 months ago and is consistent to this day when the weather cooperates with us. In October 2009 one of the grandmothers of the children we did the "VBS" for started letting us come to her house for a morning worship service. It started with four people in an apartment in the middle of the projects.

These are the main three things that have been done. A weekly worship service, a weekly "VBS" for the kids, and a prayer walk once a month to interact with everyone in the neighborhood that was outside and to get prayer card requests.

Each year we do service projects that bring the community together such as a hat/coat/glove giveaway, school uniform giveaway, neighborhood cookouts feeding up to 300 people, easter egg hunt and a Christmas party. This really showed the people that we cared about them and over the past 15 months relationships continue to grow deeper.

In June 2010 we had to rent the community center in the projects for Sunday church services because we ran out of room in the apartment we were meeting in. When the people found out that we would listen to them, spend time with them, pray with them and study the Bible in their homes....they opened up to us and began to share their hearts and lives with us on deeper levels.

Today there is a congregation of 20-30 that meet faithfully every Sunday and we are training them to lead the services and minister to their neighbors. None of the volunteers or myself have produced this, all we did was plant seeds and open our lives up and begin to literally share life on a personal level. Its spreading like wildfire. Today I visit anywhere from 100-150 people weekly and take two people with me that grew up in those same projects. If we dont show up and visit, people in the neighborhood get mad. They expect us to be there for them and anticipate the visits.

I know most ministry models differ and there is not really a "one size fits all" approach but this has worked well for us and I pray something written here will help you or anyone that reads this.

Ann, by the way, I got your books in the mail and love them! Thank you for your faithfulness to God and allowing Him to use you. Your making a big difference in this world and its appreciated. Blessings to you.

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