Data from recent survey equips churches to better understand and minister to their local communities
Florence, SC, April 10, 2023—As the post-pandemic world moves more and more to a less centralized view of religion and religious affiliation, churches and ministries today are struggling to connect and engage with their own communities. A leader in church management software, market expertise, and data analysis for the last 45 years, ACS Technologies examined the theological beliefs of Americans with their ground-breaking American Beliefs Study: Religious Preferences and Practices, originally conducted in 2013 and then repeated in 2017 and 2021. Valuable insights that reveal changing behaviors and social and moral attitudes and trends within communities of faith have been distilled into a series of nine unique reports; six are currently available, with the balance releasing monthly. More information on the reports is available at americanbeliefs.com.
“As the saying goes, ‘there is nothing new under the sun,’ ACS Technologies recognizes that times do change, but often practices and traditions don’t always keep up. Though the teachings of Christ and a Biblical worldview are timeless, how we propose and apply those truths to our modern world must evolve to meet the needs of those within the Church and of those on the margins of Christianity,” notes Vice President of Ministry Advancement and MissionInsite Rev. Chuck Salter. “Becoming ‘culturally relevant’ is a necessity for ministry and engagement at all levels and a primary area of focus at ACS Technologies. Transitioning from less traditional verbiage and approaches to fresh, new methods and language to preach the enduring Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways most relevant to our culture is a priority.”
The most recent study surveyed a sample of nearly 15,000 Americans from diverse demographics, cultures, and professions. The most surprising trends have been observed among respondents’ practices and preferences:
- Americans who continue to profess Christianity clearly favor a less-structured experience. This is evident in how they increasingly affiliate with nondenominational and independent churches over mainline and minor denominations. Mainline and minor Christian denominations saw a 3.2 percent decline in preference for their tradition over the past ten years, while independent and nondenominational churches have seen a 3.2 percent increase. Currently, 21 percent of Christians affiliate with a non-denominational church, compared to 18 percent ten years ago.
- Practicing Christians set a high value on traditional worship. This came out third on their list at 81 percent, while “contemporary worship experiences” was 15th on their list at 52 percent. Protestants place a slightly higher value on traditional worship compared to Catholics. However, there is an apparent strong connection between “traditional worship” and the fourth item on the list “celebrating the sacraments,” especially among Catholics and practicing Christians in the Boomer and Silent generations.
- Americans are more likely now to distance themselves from corporate worship by saying that ‘believing in Jesus does not require participating in a church’ (63 percent now vs. 50 percent in 2017) and that ‘people in the church don’t behave as Jesus would have,’ (61 percent now vs. 32 percent in 2017).
- The top reasons for staying away were ‘Religious people are too judgmental,’ ‘Religion is too focused on money,’ that they ‘Don’t trust organized religion’ or they didn’t ‘trust religious leaders.’
Rev. Salter, who brings more than 40 years of experience to ACS Technologies as an ordained United Methodist minister and co-founder and past President of MissionInsite, now part of the ACS Technology family asserts, “Historical data can provide anchor points for seeking and evaluating these new trends and opportunities. Ministries can’t move forward without understanding the past and asking the key question, ‘Where did we come from, and where do we need to go?’ Our team of expert church consultants is trained in every aspect of church management, operations, and innovation across denominations and affiliations. They accompany churches and ministries to identify and analyze key data to inform new ministry objectives that evolve over time.”
Based on the growing need for new ministry innovation and better-informed programming to reach the fallen away and disengaged, ACS Technologies is committed to putting its muscle behind serving the ministry needs of the church “for such a time as this.”
All available reports in the American Beliefs Study series can be accessed for free here. Forthcoming reports will focus on the rise and impact of ‘Nones’ (those not claiming any religion).
For more information and a complete press kit, visit https://www.acstechnologies.com/presskit-ABSall.
To request an interview with Rev. Salter, contact Carrie Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About ACS Technologies
Founded in 1978, ACS Technologies is the leading, most comprehensive provider of church ministry tools, support, and expertise solutions to nearly 50,000 churches, schools, dioceses, and denominational offices. With the mission to enable everyone in the Church with a personalized ministry environment to make God-honoring decisions in actionable ways. ACS Technologies desires to build the Kingdom by being a trusted ministry partner in the daily life of every church. ACS Technologies stands apart by providing a whole church approach, meeting the needs of the denomination/diocese, pastor/priest, staff/volunteers, and congregants/parishioners with unique value to each role with each ministry goal. ACS Technologies is a privately held independent Christian family-led company based out of Florence, SC, with remote team members across the U.S.
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