Few Plan to Invite Unchurched to Easter Service

Less than half of American churchgoers plan to invite unchurched people to Easter worship service this year, a new survey found.

Only one out of three active churchgoers (31 percent) said they would definitely invite someone they know who does not usually attend church to join them for Easter service, according to a Barna Group survey that examines Americans' view on Easter.

The survey also found that though a solid majority of Americans would describe Easter as a religious celebration (67 percent), only a minority (42 percent) connected Easter with the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group and the one who directed the project, said he thinks the most troubling survey finding from a church leaders' perspective is that most people who do know the meaning of Easter are not particularly inclined to invite unchurched friends to worship.

It suggests "that their personal beliefs about Jesus have not yet translated into a sense of urgency for having spiritual conversations with their acquaintances," Kinnaman said.

That said, some American adults indicated great confusion about the meaning of Easter. Some believe that Easter is about the celebration of spring or a pagan holiday (three percent); the "birth of Christ" (two percent); the "rebirth of Christ" (two percent); or the celebration of "the second coming of Jesus" (one percent).

Evangelicals were by far the most likely faith segment measured by the survey to identify the resurrection of Jesus as part of Easter (73 percent). Protestants were also more likely than Catholics to connect the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian holiday.

By age groups, adults in the Boomer generation, ages 45 to 63, were the most likely to describe Easter in general as a religious holiday. Meanwhile, the youngest generation, the Mosaics, ages 18 to 25, were the least likely to say Easter is a religious holiday (58 percent).

Though many of the survey's findings are cause for concern, Kinnaman highlighted the more positive statistic that shows most active churchgoers are open to the idea of inviting people who do not usually attend church to Easter service this year.

"One of the challenges to pastors and other church leaders is to find out what's actually preventing them from following through on that willingness," said the Barna Group president.

The survey is based on a nationwide tracking study, called OmniPoll, conducted by The Barna Group. A random sample of 1,005 adults across the United States was interviewed by telephone from Feb. 7 to 10.

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