Monday, August 10, 2009

Interesting Info on Faith and Size of Church

The Barna Group has posted some interesting information on the relationship between people's faith and the size of church they are a part of. Below are the three statements that I found most intriguing (especially the final one):

"On all 9 of the belief statements tested, attenders of large churches were more likely than those engaged in a small or mid-sized congregation to give an orthodox biblical response – e.g., the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches, Satan is not merely symbolic but exists, Jesus led a sinless life, God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe, etc."

"The point at which congregational belief profiles were mostly likely to diverge was when churches reached the 200-adult range. Those who attend churches of 1000 or more adults are significantly different from the congregations of those attending churches of as many as 200 adults in relation to six out of the 10 belief statements explored."

"The religious beliefs and behaviors of people who attend house churches, which average about 20 adults in attendance, are more similar to the results for large conventional churches (i.e., more than 500 adults) than they are to the outcomes among those who attend small conventional churches (i.e., less than 50 adults)."

To read the entire Barna article, click here.


Arthur Sido said...

I am always a bit skeptical of research like this. It seems that what this tells us is that people in biger churches are better conditioned to give the right response. It also would have been interesting to see a denomination breakdown. I think the answers you get from a 50 person fundamentalist baptist church would be very different from the answers you would get at a 50 person United Methodist church.

Eric said...


You are probably right - especially about the answers that would be given based on denomination.

What really made me interested was the info. about the house church folks. Clearly those gathering in homes do not hold to the same ecclessiology as those who attend mega-churches; therefore, it was interesting that there was at least some similarity in belief and practice between these two groups.

Alice C. said...

What alarms me most about the research is that apparently only 44.4% of the respondents believe that Satan is a real being and not just a symbol of evil. WHOA!!! Anyone see a problem there?

Eric said...


Apparently they like to pick and choose what sections of the bible they want to take literally. My guess is that they take the love of God literally, so why not the rest?

Anonymous said...

I forget where I read it (so I apologize for not giving at least a hat tip), but someone pointed out that declining churches are included in the small church category along with healthy small churches. This may skew the data.

Eric said...


Thanks for telling me that. If that is the case, it would certainly skew things so much that the data would have little meaning.

Anonymous said...


That's my thinking as well. A few years ago, I did some thinking to get past a knee jerk anti-mega position. It helped me realize that big churches can be healthy, just like small churches. The reverse is also the case. There are issues involved in both large and small (and I still lean toward small or house as best); following Jesus together is key.