Barna’s State of the Church

June 20, 2005 by

The Next-Wave online magazine has an interesting article on George Barna’s State of the Church 2005. The piece dives into Barna’s latest findings about the church, compares them with his 2002 findings and gives a sorry picture of the church (the author also beats a poor restaurant metaphor to death).

In 2002, Barna suggested that there are greater than 300,000 Protestant and 20,000 Catholic churches in the U.S. He contrasts this with the 50,000 post offices and 15,000 McDonald’s that serve our nation. He writes, “the church has less impact on our culture than any of those less prolific entities, despite missions that are much less significant or compelling.”

…When your franchise’s performance is benchmarked against the U.S. postal service and your outfit comes out on the short-end, perhaps it’s time for a change.

At one point the article says that churches have “changed the ambiance, the music, the lighting, added video screens, pastors, elders, and websites, embraced bigger buildings with different architectural features, turned to new delivery systems, serving up their products via seminars, books cds, dvds, live television and training by subscription satellite broadcasts,” and yet none of it seems to work.

If it’s really as bad as that (is it?) what is the church to do? Marketing alone isn’t the answer, but it seems marketing should help us get to the answer (good marketing won’t save a crappy product, it’ll send you back to the drawing board).

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

7 Responses to “Barna’s State of the Church”

  • Greg Marquez
    June 21, 2005

    Just a couple (okay several!) thoughts.

    It has seemed to me for the past several years that Christianity in the U.S. is on the verge of going the way of Christianity in Europe. Unless things change the church will get a lot smaller very quickly. The new pope said something to this same effect.

    Why?

    - We’re still living off the fumes of Christendom when Christianity did not have to do anything to continue to exist. It was a monopoly. Now we have entered an era of competition, principally from materialist/secularists/hedonists. And the western church, for the most part, wants to continue doing business the same way it did when it was the only game in town.

    - Christianity doesn’t do anything. It talks about this great awesome God but he just doesn’t do very much. Okay, he used to do things. Some day he’ll do things again. And after you’re dead he’ll do something. But other than that the god offered by most of Christianity isn’t much of a God.

    -Amazingly enough when the Church had to compete for it’s literal survival it’s God did something.

    - Most Americans have very little need for God. They have health insurance, WalGreens, plenty of money, awesome distractions, and if they attend the right church they’ve even got heaven insurance. What do we need God for?

    - The western church, particularly, has emphasized, to the exclusion of practically all else in Christianity, justification (In American Christianeese this translates to going to heaven when you die.) and especially the means of justification. As a result the church that produces the most babies wins and amazingly enough we have churches filled with babies. Imagine if we thought the best mom was the woman who had the most children instead of the one who’s children grew up the best. Imagine some lady down the street who had 30 kids but they were all dirty, unruly, never went to school were in trouble with the law, never held a job and we still said she was the best mom because she had the most children. Imagine that and you’ve imagined the American church.

    - The American church needs to rediscover the purpose of Christianity. Hint: God’s not just relevant after you’re dead.

    Okay, enough ranting for one day.


  • Joel Parsons
    June 22, 2005

    I am getting to the point where I want to start challenging these condemnations that the Church isn’t having an impact. It seems there is a mini-Industry within Christian publishing / conferences on how to “revive” the church, when the reality is that even in Australia (with proportionally fewer Christians and churches) churches are having a massive impact on society, although one often ignored by the mainstream media through which we judge ourselves.
    We can do a lot better, but God already deserves a lot of credit for all the stuff he is doing, even in the Anglo-Saxon societies like Australia, the UK and the USA with historically mature church cultures.


  • So… Why Isn’t the Church Advancing?

    Kevin D. Hendricks has a great ‘thinking’ piece at the ChurchMarketingSucks.com website on reasons why the church isn’t taking hold and growing exponentially… Kevin writes:The Next-Wave online magazine has an interesting article on George Barna’s St…


  • eddie
    June 26, 2005

    At one point the article says that churches have “changed the ambiance, the music, the lighting, added video screens, pastors, elders, and websites, embraced bigger buildings with different architectural features, turned to new delivery systems, serving up their products via seminars, books cds, dvds, live television and training by subscription satellite broadcasts,” and yet none of it seems to work.

    maybe none of it seems to work because of the motivation behind it all.

    “The American church needs to rediscover the purpose of Christianity. Hint: God’s not just relevant after you’re dead.”

    wow! i couldn’t agree more :)


  • Jason
    June 27, 2005

    I couldn’t agree more. Jesus didn’t captivate with his amzing theology. It was who he was that drew people. He touched the leper and spoke to the prostitute. Things that no one would do, especially the religious people. And it was who Jesus was that validated what he said (his theology). The church has turned into an institution for communicating beliefs and not people of action that brings change when seen. Love your thoughts. I was turned on to you by bobfranquiz.com and visit often. I’ve also just entered blogland so please visit me at generationpost.com and give some pointers. Thanks.


  • Ben Watson
    July 3, 2005

    How about stop trying to worry so much about marketing, stop fretting and fussing and phrasing in as many possible ways the trials and tribulations of the way you look to others and instead, do — act, perform mission work within your immediate viscinity. Pick up trash, go to a downtown area and pick up garbage and hand out sandwiches to homeless and downtrodden, lemonade to distressed town employees and commuters. I feel like all this exhaustive pouting and mentioning many, many specific instances of discord and disharmony inevitably just reinforces the beasts you lament so. Much of this talk comes off like the too self-conscious beauty pageanteer who is fated to lose from the get go b/c she’s worrying too much about how she looks and not on what she’s gonna say or thinks. There are tons of ways to put this, and the beauty pageant thing admitedly isn’t the best. But i hope you get the point. Act. simply. and pray every second in between. don’t worry and stay focused. God will take care of what you can’t.


  • brad_miller100
    July 4, 2005

    What most people fail to see is that the bible has a bulit in marketing plan that uses word of mouth marketing called a testamony.
    Its what Jesus has done for me. People need to be taught how to do a simple testamony in the following format.
    My experience
    The Scriptures
    The Nature Of God
    After seeing 5100 healings its not hard to see that Churchanity needs something other than the simple and effective marketing program of an experiential realtionship with God.
    The problem is not the marketing methods its a problem with conterfit product.



Leave a Reply

POST CATEGORIES:
Philosophy


 
Show CFCC Bar
Courageous storytellers welcome.
Hide the bar