For the GFK Public Affairs research project for the resurgence report 1000 people were contacted. Of this number 741 classified themselves as de-churched and 259 classified themselves as un-churched.
De-churched is defined by: attended worship services every few months or less often and regularly attended worship services as a child.
Un-churched is defined by: attended worship services every few months or less often and did not regularly attend worship services as a child.
When GFK asked people to about their beliefs an interesting pattern emerged. De-Churched and Un-Churched people are practically just as open to Christian beliefs as they are non-Christian beliefs.
% Believe in Christian beliefs
That Jesus existed – 88%
God – 78%
Afterlife, as in heaven and hell – 68%
Angels and Demons – 65%
That Jesus rose from the dead 59%
The devil, or Satan – 53%
% Believe in non-Christian beliefs
Evolution – 74%
Karma – 71%
The spirituality of nature – 68%
Extraterrestrials, aliens, or UFOs – 46%
The existence of multiple gods – 19%
If these people who are leaving the church share beliefs on both sides of the spiritual line, what does that say about how we are communicating to the people in church? From this information I am not so sure we are answering the questions people have about the nature of the world.
It might be time that pastors and church attenders in general come up with more specific reasons for why they believe what they do and learn to effectively communicate that to others. The perspectives of the non-Christian beliefs are all over the culture at large and do a good job communicating and defending those positions. Yet, in the church we often settle for anecdotes and preaching belief from authority rather than teaching the ways we come to the conclusions of faith that Christianity is held.
Millennials want authenticity. They do not want to blindly follow traditions that they do not understand. If we as Christians whole-heartedly believe these things, then we need to know why we believe them and where these beliefs came from if we want any hope in settling the doubts that others have in the church regarding Christian beliefs.