In the typical congregation about one-third of worshipers are new people who began attending there in the past five years. What do we know about new people? Do they participate in congregational activities as much as worshipers who have been attending for six years or sixteen years or even longer?
New people are less connected to the congregation. Worshipers who are new to the church are typically less involved in congregational programs and activities than worshipers who are long-term attendees:
- Fewer new people attend worship on a weekly basis.
- Fewer new people are members of the church.
- Fewer new people participate in small group activities (Sunday school, Bible study, prayer groups, or fellowship groups).
- Fewer new people hold leadership positions in the church (assist in worship, sing in the choir, lead a small group, serve on the board or a committee of the church).
- Fewer new people financially support the church by contributing 5% or more of their income.
The personal spiritual lives of new people are similar to those of long-term attendees. Despite the limited involvement of new people in congregational life, they have spiritual experiences that are similar to those of long-term attendees:
- Almost half in each group spend time in private devotions (Bible reading, personal prayer) every day.
- Nine in ten in each group say the worship services and other activities in their congregation help them with everyday living.
- Similar numbers in each group report their spiritual needs are being met in the congregation.
- Eight in ten in each group regularly experience God’s presence in the congregation’s worship services.
The challenge for congregations. New people connect spiritually with God and with the congregation. Yet their participation in congregational life lags. The challenge for congregational leaders is to help those who are new to your congregation find ways to contribute to the life of the church and to become more involved.
Research shows that in growing churches lots of people are involved in lots of ways in church life. So helping new people increase their participation is important for those worshipers and for the congregation as a whole.
What does your congregation do to help integrate new worshipers into the life of your congregation?