In studying unchurched Americans, specific types of outreach proved to be more effective for certain groups.
By Aaron Earls
When Lifeway Research studied the unchurched, they found many were willing to have spiritual conversations and even open to attending church, but specific types of evangelism and invitations to church were more effective for certain groups.
Overall, 47% of those who haven’t attended a religious service in the past six months say they would discuss religious beliefs freely with someone.
Around 4 in 5 (79%) say they don’t mind a friend who really values their faith talking about it with them.
But some discussions and types of invitations to church seem to be more effective for certain groups. Think about these statistics when planning your next church outreach.
1. Personal invite
One of the most effective ways to invite someone to church is for a friend or family member to simply ask someone to come. Half (51%) of the unchurched say that personal invitation would be effective.
Females, however, are more likely than males to say it would be effective (56% to 46%). The older unchurched, those 65 and older, are the least likely to say such an invitation would be effective (38%).
2. Discussions about death and eternity
More than 2 in 5 unchurched (43%) say they never think about if they would go to heaven when they die. Some subgroups, however, are more likely to ponder what happens after death.
Of all education levels, those with a high school diploma or less are most likely to say they think daily about if they would go to heaven when they die (13%).
Those with an annual household income of less than $25,000 are more likely than most other incomes levels to say they think about it daily (18%).
Also, those unchurched who still identify as evangelicals (22%) are more likely than others to think about their eternal destiny.
3. Conversations about purpose
Seven in 10 believe every person has an ultimate purpose and 57% believe that finding their deeper purpose is a major priority of their life.
Females (79%) are more likely than males (62%) to say there is an ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life.
African-Americans (81%) are the ethnicity most likely to agree. They are also most likely to say a major priority of their life is finding their deeper purpose (77%).
4. Worship service invitation
Overall, only 35% of the unchurched say they would attend a worship service if they were invited by someone they knew.
However, half (49%) of widows said such an invitation would make it likely they attend.
5. Community service projects
Half of all unchurched (51%) say they would likely come to a community service project organized by a local Christian church.
Women (58%) are more likely to agree than men (45%).
While 45% of all unchurched say they would show up for a church concert, 51% of 18-24-year-olds say they would come—more than any other age group.
Young adults (18-24) are also the most likely to attend a church-sponsored seminar, regardless of the subject matter.
Overall, 24% of all unchurched say they would come for a seminar on a spiritual topic, but 32% of young adults agree.
Similarly, for a seminar with a practical topic, 34% of all unchurched agree, while 44% of 18-24-year-olds say they would show up.
8. Community safety event
Most unchurched (62%) say they would attend an event designed to make the community safer sponsored by a local Christian church. Consider hosting a neighborhood watch group or facilitating a self-defense class.
Those events would be most effective for adults 65 and older (67%), those who are married (66%), and those who have children (66%).
9. Sports or exercise program
Almost half of the unchurched (46%) say would attend a sports or exercise program sponsored by a local church.
Younger adults—18-24 (59%) and 25-34 (51%)—are more likely to attend than older adults—37% of those over 55.
African Americans (64%) and Hispanics (56%) are more likely to come than Asian-Americans (44%) or whites (42%).
What types of evangelism or church invitations have you found to be most effective?
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.