At a time when lots of people are switching religious affiliations, dabbling in more than one tradition, seeking spirituality on the Web and who knows what else, the Barna Group has come up with some new categories for those who don’t attend church regularly.
Barna is an evangelical outfit and they’re basically talking about Protestants, but I think that other religious groups can also relate some of what they’ve come up with.
So here are their new measurements for how people “relate to faith communities:”
Unattached – people who had attended neither a conventional church nor an organic faith community (e.g., house church, simple church, intentional community) during the past year. Some of these people use religious media, but they have had no personal interaction with a regularly-convened faith community. This segment represents one out of every four adults (23%) in America. About one-third of the segment was people who have never attended a church at any time in their life.
Intermittents – these adults are essentially “under-churched” – i.e., people who have participated in either a conventional church or an organic faith community within the past year, but not during the past month. Such people constitute about one out of every seven adults (15%). About two-thirds of this group had attended at least one church event at some time within the past six months.
Homebodies – people who had not attended a conventional church during the past month, but had attended a meeting of a house church (3%).
Blenders – adults who had attended both a conventional church and a house church during the past month. Most of these people attend a conventional church as their primary church, but many are experimenting with new forms of faith community. In total, Blenders represent 3% of the adult population.
Conventionals – adults who had attended a conventional church (i.e., a congregational-style, local church) during the past month but had not attended a house church. Almost three out of every five adults (56%) fit this description. This participation includes attending any of a wide variety of conventional-church events, such as weekend services, mid-week services, special events, or church-based classes.