A hurting world may be calling the church for answers, but nobody's picking up the phone. A new study by the Barna Research Group found that contact with a human being could not be made by phone at 40 percent of America's churches. Researchers called 3,764 Protestant churches nationwide. Multiple callbacks - as many as 12 - were made in an effort to reach a person. No person could be reached at 40 percent of the churches called, and almost half of those churches (44 percent) did not even have an answering machine available to take a message. It took researchers an average of 2.1 telephone calls to reach a human being at a Protestant church during regular business hours on weekdays. One-third of the churches answered on the first call, but among all churches that were eventually contacted, one in 10 required at least four calls. Mainline churches were slightly more responsive than were evangelical churches (at 73 percent and 66 percent, respectively, a person answered the church's phone). Accessibility of mainline churches ranged from a person answering the call at 83 percent of Episcopal churches to 66 percent among the American Baptist churches. Among the evangelical churches the greatest accessibility was achieved among Christian & Missionary Alliance (100 percent, based on a small sample) and non-denominational evangelical (80 percent) churches. Black churches had the lowest responsiveness among the various categories of churches. However, there were huge differences in responsiveness among black churches. For instance, a person answered the telephone at some point among only 9 percent of the AME Zion churches called, 28 percent of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and 32 percent among the AME churches. However, calls ...

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