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Thursday, 19 May 2016

20 headlines about #churchless #christians - from yesterday #FaithResearch2016 conference 1st session

On Wednesday 18/5/16 I attended the 2016 Faith in Research Conference in Birmingham UK. At the foot of this post are links to other selected posts from various talks/conferences.

The conference is organised by the CofE’s Research & Statistics Dept.  The Bishop of Manchester welcomed attendees and amongst other things reminded us that ...

  1. reminds us that research & facts are our friends in discernment (though hopefully not our only friends!)

Following the headlines below is some more detail about the 1st session at the conference on research on churchless christians.  But if you are in a big hurry the headlines are:

15% of churchless Christians have never attended a church.  As concerns the other 85% …

1) the majority still had their faith and for many that was important to them & their lives; 
2) in gender and age they were representative of congregations; 
3) most didn’t leave when they moved home – ½ had spent their whole lives in the area; 
4) ¼ had long term 25yr + commitment to the church; 
5) they disengaged from church gradually over a long time of frustration & deep soul searching; 
6) they did not disengage over trivial issues - 1/3rd left due to changes in themselves, 25% felt they didn't fit in, 1/3rd mentioned sermons relevance, ½ mentioned church feeling like another planet; 
7) most still felt part of the worldwide Church; 
8) when they leave nobody notices or they leave without a fuss; 
9) in situations where there was a "final straw" that led to them leaving 50% said it had to do with a life crisis and 20% said the church had let them down at a time of personal need; 
10) some said they left as they had a hunger for deeper teaching whereas that provided locally was superficial; 
11) some said that the lack of opportunities to explore questions and doubts was a reason for them leaving; 
13) some found that when they left the church “it was like getting an 8th day each week” as they had been expected to commit so much time to remaining part of a congregation; 
14) 2/3rds of leavers had no intention of re-engaging; 
15) for the remaining 1/3rd the reasons they gave for leaving were 1/3rd about style preferences and 2/3rds about fitting in with rest of their life; 
16) leavers fill the church gap with fellowship and friendship; 
17) sexuality wasn’t an issue for leavers – theological issues were the main reason for a small no. of leavers; 
18) maybe some of the leavers are pioneers the church failed to ID; 
19) leavers aren’t angry with the church 

Steve is the Church of Scotland’s Mission Development Worker and he has written a book on this. He started by pointing out that typically churchless Christians are seen as a problem - leakage that needs to be fixed.  
  1. Steve Aisthorpe wanted his book to be reliable, readable, and accessible. How refreshing.

- His research commenced with some 30 in depth interviews where interviewees were asked to talk about their story as relates to church.  There were no structured questions and from the recorded interviews some 27 themes came out.

- Further research was via some 2500 telephone interviews - from which the stats in the tweet below emerged.  This left some 423 valid surveys as concerns looking at churchless Christians

44% Ppl who stop going to church still have faith, half high scorers on religiosity scale

(Later in the research these surveys were compared with the other areas of Scotland and found to be representative in that: a) the respondents mirrored the geographic distribution of the general population; b) Some 60% were female, 40% male – representative of congregations, c) 50% were baby boomers; d) 50% had spent their whole lives in the area; e) 25% had been with a congregation more than 25 years; f)
  1. 15% non-attending Christians have NEVER belonged to a church.

Note also that d) above seems to counter the idea that people leaving church is linked to them moving homes, and e) above seems to counter the idea that leavers are somehow not committed to the church.

So what were some of the findings from this survey of churchless christians?

1) The majority had not lost their faith.
(Of course an obvious challenge is what did respondents mean when they said they were christian – by using the Hoge Intrinsic Religiousity Scale it was determined that 1/2 thought their faith was important to them and made a difference to how they conducted their lives)

2) They disengaged from church gradually.
  1. Ppl leave church gradually after long time of frustration & deep soul searching

3) They did not disengage over trivial issues.
  1. 35% of people leave church due to changes in themselves. 25% felt they didn't fit in.
  2. - 1/3 mentioned sermons relevance & 1/2 mentioned church feeling like another planet

4) Most still felt part of the worldwide Church.  

5) In terms of people fitting in with church Steve also pointed out that ...
  1. "Welcoming and making people feel they fit in are two different things"

  1. Churchless faith: one reason for people leaving is mutual withdrawal between dominant group and margins

(E.g. If a particular age group or social group or gender or personality type (e.g. extrovert) form the majority of the leadership/congregation then  - unless explicit efforts are made to celebrate diversity from that majority – and to allow authentic differences to it - then people who aren't like the majority will increasingly feel they don’t fit) 
  1. Fitting in at . only if you're ? Distance can grow without anyone noticing.

To take the personality type dimension as an example - If the leaders and congregation are mostly extroverts and behave that way then introverts will feel they need to act in a way that is not their preference.  So gradually they will move to the edges.  In these types of situation there is a process of mutual withdrawal between the church and the individual.

6) When people move from church nobody notices or they leave without a fuss.

7) Turning to situations where there was a “final straw” that prompted people to leave  - 50% said it had to do with a life crisis and 20% said the church had let them down at a time of personal need.

8) Some leavers said they had a hunger for deeper teaching whereas that provided locally was superficial

9) Some leavers said that the lack of opportunities to explore questions and doubts was a reason for them leaving.

10) Some leavers found that when they left the church they discovered all the effort they had been expected to commit to remain part of a congregation.

“it was like getting an 8th day each week”

11) 2/3rds of leavers had no intention of re-engaging.  For the remaining 1/3rd reasons given for leaving were ...
  1. Leavers interested in re-engaging: 1/3 about style preferences, 2/3 about fitting in with rest of life

  2. (so a Fresh Expression focused on a particular group or style maybe attractive to such leavers as a culturally relevant way of them expressing their faith in non-institutional way)

    12) Leavers do fill the church gap ...
  1. People DO fill the gap of church - with fellowship, friendship.. often online

13) Steve felt sexuality wasn’t an issue for leavers – theological issues were the main reason for a small no. of leavers.

14) Many of the dis-engagers are committed to their faith so ....

15) The anger myth ...
  1. Church leavers not angry with church or the institution not negative 

A selection of CofE/Church related posts that maybe of interest

posts with 10 useful links  No.'s 1234567891011121314151617181920 (not just church stuff but maybe interesting 2 u)

How do we get politics & business & civil society working for the common good? 
10 reasons churches don't use social media  - some possible answers and/or solutions 
Discovering prayer  - learning from monasticism 
10 ideas for a good lent - from a St Pauls London Cathedral event with JustinWelby 
The CofE  House of #Bishops 52 page letter - 11 tests to use when deciding who to vote for, the 14 arguments supporting that advice - 6 points about christianity and politics 
Church Communications - 10 points about Logos 
“In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal

The Green Report - on CofE talent management
CofE typos in services - a compilation of a @OurCofE twitter hashtag
CofE 2013 mission stats 
Household of faith conference - one of several posts summarising 
CofE Strategies - one of several posts summarising 

A selection of other posts on RSA, TED or similar lectures & conferences which maybe of interest

Verification in crisis reporting by journalists - notes from the #Polis2016 session - some useful advice
Reporting on terror - some headlines from a session at the #Polis2016 conference 
Jouralism & the Brexit debate #Polis2016 - the focus on the economy, the fact free ghetto of social media, the UK media's power - and why weren't 16 years olds allowed to vote?
Good storytelling isn't limited to simplified representations of reality - & more ideas from a #Polis2016 session on Reporting Refugees
 If want to be a journalist don't do a journalism degree - and other views & advice from @jonsnowc4 #polis2016


Money Matters - Church Urban Fund conference - on building a more inclusive financial system
Digital & Data Journalism London News Impact Summit – 12 quotes + 18 resource links mega summary - then the detail
the importance of character - an RSA event with David Brooks
in search of a fuller life - an RSA event with philosopher Theodore Zeldin 
Headlines from LSE analysis of #UK social #policy 2010-2015 in tabular form: #positives, #negatives & mixed outcomes - from @CASE_LSE papers found via @trustforlondonhow to innovate & survive - by   (Mark Payne)
18 top tips and thoughts about using #social media to enable #community source = an article by  Anatoliy Gruzd PhD & Caroline Haythornthwaite PhD 
thinking straight in the age of information overload - by @danlevitin 
how to become a soulful organisation - by @fred_laloux 


thoughts & headlines from a conference on social media and images 
Data Protection & Privacy - 8 issues from an International Conference
escape your social horizon limit & understand more - source = a blog post summarising the work of  Jeffrey A. Smith, Miller McPherson & Lynn Smith-Lovin
OECD - challenges for the next 50 years - in an OECD report 
Want to help somebody - shut up and listen - by ermesto sirolli 
social media & death - 10 things you may not have thought about - #DORS conference
persuasion and power in the modern world and the rise of soft power - UK House of Lords 


UK Government Policy Blunders & their common causes - by Anthony King & Ivor Crewe
the development of the U2 spyplane - source = CIA historians Gregory Pedlow & Donald Welzenbach
Guide to Comments (esp. #YouTube) for creators - by @vihartvihart
considering culture and business process improvement  - source = an article by Schmiedel, Theresa, vom Brocke, Jan, & Recker 
ideas for your organisation from the 2013 99U conference 
ideas that may help you attract older volunteers - source = a paper by Brayley, Nadine, Obst, Patricia L., White, Katherine M., Lewis, Ioni M.,Warburton, Jeni, & Spencer, Nancy
physical factors which help people get better quicker - source = a paper by Salonen, Heidi & Morawska, Lidia 
a new approach to school and education - by Geetha Narayanan 
principles for software to encourage participation - by Gerhard Fischer
guiding principles on designing construction kits - by Mitchel Resnick & Brian Silverman
how to identify the #culture of an organisation
signs of overparenting - source = an article by Locke, Judith, Campbell, Marilyn A., & Kavanagh, David J
making ideas happen - source = a 99U conference


how to spot a liar - by pamela myer 
the related world of cyber crime, warfare and industrial espionage - by @mishaglenny 
ambiguity, irreverence, commentary & judgement - by lauren zalaznick
measuring happiness - source = talk by jim clifton, jim harter, ben leedle

2006  twittr launches   2005  youtube   2004  the facebook online and digg   2001  wikipedia   1999  weblog software launched  1998  Google   1996  HoTMaiL   1995  auctionweb   1994  CERN release a web browser   1984  Apple Macintosh launched   1977  IBM personal computer   
1976  mail via computers

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