Most Americans have first-hand experiences in churches or parishes. What happens, if anything, in the hearts and minds of those who attend? To explore this matter, Barna Group surveyed Americans who have attended a Christian church sometime in the past and discovered what they say about their experiences in these congregations. Here are two examples:
Connecting with God
Connecting with God is perhaps the most important outcome facilitated by churches. Most people (66%) feel they have had “a real and personal connection” with God while attending church. However, that means one-third of those who have attended a church in the past have never felt God’s presence while in a congregational setting. Also, when asked about frequency, most of those who have attended church describe these encounters as rare. One-third of all adults in the country report connecting with God at least monthly (35%) via a congregational setting. Among those who attend church every week, 44% said they experience God’s presence every week and 18% do so on a monthly basis.
The survey also probed the degree to which people say their lives had been changed by attending church. Overall, one-quarter of Americans (26%) who had been to a church before said that their life had been changed or affected “greatly” by attending church. Another one-fourth (25%) described it as “somewhat” influential. Nearly half said their life had not changed at all as a result of churchgoing (46%).