Skip to content

New Study Identifies the Lifestyle and Behavioral Attributes of self-identified Catholics Revealing Opportunities for Stronger Connection

    Findings can equip Church leaders to better serve parishioners and invite others

    Florence, SC, September 29, 2023—Church leaders are well aware of the drop in Mass attendance and participation in the sacraments, and it continues to be a concern they are attempting to address. ACS Technologies today released a study that may help Catholic church leaders identify, engage, and effectively communicate with Catholics in their communities by knowing the characteristics of those who are active in their faith.

    National Study of US Catholics: Knowing Who to Invite and Engage identifies the lifestyle and behavioral attributes of those who identify as active Catholics and provides a multi-dimensional view of those representative households.

    Using ACS Technologies proprietary data modeling software MissionInsite, a community analysis tool, the study describes the lifestyle segments that are more likely or less likely to be active in the faith. This can give Church leaders a clear picture of the interest and priorities of typical Catholics in their parishes, and insight on the best ways to communicate with them. In addition, this study used data from ACST American Beliefs to highlight what Catholics are looking for in a parish as well as their primary concerns in life.

    Sources of input for the study include Epsilon, Synergos, the US Census, research from the American Beliefs Study, and Experian Mosaics. Mosaics are based on Experian credit agency demographic and behavioral profiles, a segmentation system that describes over 126 million households across over 800 individual lifestyle and interest attributes.

    Adam Minihan, director of communications for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma said, “The National Study of US Catholics assisted the communications department in developing a strategic plan for reaching those who are already in the pews, those who have left the pews, and those who have never been in the pews.”

    Of those Catholics in the study, three Mosaic types represent over 13% of active Catholics in the US. These groups are considered more likely to be Mass-attending parishioners..

    • Expanding Horizons (approximately 1.7 million households) are middle-aged with mid-scale incomes. They tend to be Hispanic and live primarily in US border cities. They have high devotion to family and prioritize their religious faith. They can best  be reached through Instagram, Snapchat, or radio/video casts.
    • Fast Track Couples (1.4 million households) are a mix of singles and couples living in urban neighborhoods. They make frequent changes in homes and possessions. They have few absolute principles and don’t think about morals or ethics. They are not typically involved in the community, and have few long-lasting relationships. They prefer to be communicated with through Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and text messages.
    • Aging in Place types (1.37 million households) live in suburban areas near large and mid-sized cities, and have deep roots in the community. They are devoted to their faith, and attend Mass weekly. They prefer direct mail or newspaper for communication.

    “But perhaps most interesting in this study,” stated Terry Poplava, director of strategic expertise at ACS Technologies, “are the lifestyle segments that identify as active Catholics but are not well-represented in the Catholic community. We can look at their communication preferences and find creative ways to break through, increase their awareness of our ministries and begin to build trust. This is an important first step.”

    The study identified three Experion groupings of Catholics that are least likely to be engaged in the faith. They are present more often in the overall US population in comparison to the percentage of active Catholics.

    • Sport Utility Families (168,000 households) are upscale Gen X families with high-school aged children living in suburban developments. They are fairly conservative. Family is important, and the household may be multi–generational. They are involved in school, community, and church groups, They connect best through television, direct mail, or email.
    • Picture Perfect Families (145,000 households) are established and raising children in wealthy neighborhoods. They are civic-minded, and place importance on community and morality. They want church to make sense and fit their worldview. They prefer communication through email or direct mail.
    • Red, White, and Bluegrass (214,000 households) are lower-middle-income families living in rural eastern and southern US. They have a strong sense of history and tradition. They have moved from farming to construction, transportation, and healthcare jobs. God and church are very important, and they prioritize faith and a Christian lifestyle. They prefer radio or Pinterest as forms of communication.

    “Understanding these attributes is more than just a fascinating exercise,” stated Poplava.. “It can be a game-changer for dioceses and parishes in knowing exactly how families want to hear from them, so they can reach out and re-engage. It also points to opportunities to use social media, broadcast, and even traditional print media to reach people outside the parish registry.”

    Based on the growing need for new ministry innovation and better-informed programming to reach more fallen-away and disengaged Catholics, both in the pews and those missing from the pews, ACS Technologies offers consulting services to assist Catholic leaders at all levels with understanding and applying data to their ministry planning. “Using this type of data, parish and diocesan ministry efforts can take on much more focus,” said Poplava. “As we become more sophisticated in the way we communicate with our communities, we can be more intentional about how we present the Gospel in ways that speak to them personally, and build trust. This is the goal of ACST Consulting. We want to put our years of experience at the service of the Church to most effectively live the call to ‘go, baptize, and teach.’”

    For the full report, [click here]

    To request an interview with Terry Poplava, contact Polly King at

    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.

    Key popular solutions include:






    Growth Method

    Go Method 

    Higher Ground Managed IT