Survey: House Churches More Satisfying than Conventional Churches

People attending a house church expressed a significantly higher satisfaction with their church experience than those attending a conventional local church, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds of house church attendees were “completely satisfied” with both the leadership of their church and the faith commitment of the people involved in their gathering, reported The Barna Group on Monday. On the other hand, less than half of those attending conventional churches expressed the same level of satisfaction with their church leadership or the faith commitment of the worshippers in their congregation.

House church members also expressed a higher level of satisfaction (61 percent “completely satisfied”) with the level of community and personal connectedness of their group compared to those in conventional churches (41 percent).

Two types of people tend to favor house churches: older participants - usually from the Boomer population - and young adults. According to the survey, the older attendees are devout Christians who are looking for a deeper and more intense experience with God and other believers. The young adults attending house churches are interested in faith and spirituality but not in the traditional forms of church.

“Compared to conventional church attenders, house church adherents are much more likely to say that they have experienced faith-driven transformation, to prioritize their relationship with God, and to desire a more fulfilling community of faith,” noted George Barna, who directed the study, in a statement.

"Those who attend a conventional church are generally content to show up and accept whatever their church has on the agenda; they place the responsibility for their spiritual growth on the shoulders of the church," said Barna.

Most house attendees (59 percent) were “completely satisfied” with the spiritual depth of their experience, compared to a minority of adults in a conventional church that were “completely satisfied” (46 percent).

The house church worship in America is a new idea to many Americans; 54 percent of the people participating in an independent home fellowship have been participating for less than three months. The survey suggests that many people are only beginning to consider and become comfortable with the idea of using homes as the dominant place of worship.

Currently, only four out of 10 regular house church attenders (42 percent) depend exclusively on a house church as their primary “church” experience. Many are trying out the experience before completely devoting themselves solely to a house church.

"Americans are emotionally open to belonging to a house church, and surprisingly few have any real objections to others joining such a community of faith," explained Barna. "But the main deterrent to house church growth is that most people are spiritually complacent; they are not looking to upgrade their spiritual experience.

The Barna Research Group founder added that most conventional churchgoers lack a desire to improve their congregation’s ministry or to increase their personal spiritual responsibility.

"On the other hand," he continued, "the intimacy and shared responsibility found in most house churches requires each participant to be more serious about their faith development. Clearly, the house church experience is not for everyone."

The nationwide survey found that most house churches (80 percent) gather every week for about two hours. The most common meeting days are Wednesday (27 percent) and Sunday (25 percent), with an average size of 20 people.

Unlike conventional churches which follow the same format every week, four out of every 10 house churches say the service format varies from meeting to meeting. House church gatherings usually include spoken prayer (93 percent), Bible reading (90 percent), serving people outside of their group (89 percent), sharing personal needs or experience (87 percent), eating and talking before or after meeting (85 percent), and a formal teaching time (76 percent) among other spiritual practices.