God may be calling sinners, but His people are not answering when they go looking for help. A nationwide telephone survey failed to make contact with a real person at 40 percent of churches, despite repeated callbacksCup to a dozen times. Only half of those churches in which no one picked up the phone had an answering machine.
Though many churches cannot be reached by phone, they are still sending a message to inquirers, said George Barna, whose Barna Research Group surveyed 3,764 Protestant churches across the country. “If churches really want to help people, they have to be accessible. When we make it difficult for people to get our attention, we send a negative message about the heart of the church, while also training them to look elsewhere during their times of need.”
Overall, mainline churches were better than evangelical churches, with 73 percent having someone answer, compared with 66 percent. The best single denomination, though, was the Christian & Missionary Alliance, with a 100 percent response rate.
Just more than half (53 percent) of Pentecostal and charismatic churches answered. Black churches had the lowest responsiveness, with only 9 percent of American Methodist Episcopal Zion churches answering calls.
Barna said that small membership or budget did not have to keep churches from being more available to phone inquirers. An answering machine could be bought for as little as $19. Some congregations have their church calls forwarded to the homes of volunteers. “There are many creative and inexpensive ways for churches that are presently inaccessible to make connections easier for everyone.”
Charisma News Service
A Daily News Update from the editors of Charisma magazine