Myth 2. Congregations around the country attract similar types of new people.

Our research shows that new people in congregations across the U.S. (people who began attending during the previous five years) fall into four categories:

  • 9% are first-timers with no church background.
  • 23% are returnees who were not attending anywhere before coming to their new congregation.
  • 31% are switchers who changed denominations or faith groups.
  • 38% are transfers who changed congregations within the same denomination.

Congregations in different areas attract different types of new people:

  • Bible Belt congregations attract more switchers (38% of new worshipers) than those outside the Bible Belt (25%).
  • Congregations outside the Bible Belt attract more first-timers (10%) and transfers (43%) than do those within the Bible Belt (7% first-timers; 31% transfers). The Bible Belt is a highly “churched” area where few grow up outside the faith.

Do your congregation’s strategies to attract new members address these facts?