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America’s Faith

Things churches can do to build greater interest in religion, according to a Gallup survey: improve communication with members (21% of respondents); concentrate more on personal spiritual matters (19%); become more involved in community matters (18%); focus more efforts on young people (14%). Other suggestions include more social activities for church members, more personal contacts between clergy and families, including pastoral visits, less emphasis on money, advertise more, strive for unity, and stay out of politics.

The survey was made for the book, “The People’s Religion: American Faith in the ‘90s,” a Gallup compilation of more than 50 years of public opinion polls.

Figures in the book show a consistency over the years: about 94 percent believe in God, 90 percent pray, 88 percent believe God loves them, and more than 75 percent say their religious involvement has been a positive experience.

Co-author Jim Castelli says he was surprised at the steadiness of the figures. “The percentage who went to church in the last week is the same today (42%) as it was in the ‘30s,” he said.After surveying 10,000 people, the Institute for American Church Growth concluded that 79 percent began attending church after receiving such an invitation. Only 6% were attracted by the pastor, 5% by the Sunday school and 0.5% by an evangelistic crusade.

Focus on the Family, July, 1984

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