In 2018, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a survey that studies demographic trends in our church, tracks people’s spiritual backgrounds and provides insight into members’ level of engagement in home churches.
I sent this survey to 4,146 people who regularly attend a Xenos home church. We got a great response rate. 64% (2,638 people) completed the survey. The result yielded some interesting insights into our church.
Women and Men in Xenos
As the American church continues to lose men, we’re seeing more men commit their lives to following Christ. According to Cathy Grossman of USA Today, “Women outnumber men in attendance in every major Christian denomination, and they are 20% to 25% more likely to attend worship at least weekly.” Our fellowship is comprised of 55% women and 45% men.
55% female; 45% male
I’m grateful that God has given us a church that draws men in our culture. I hope and pray we continue to see strong men commit their lives to Christ.
Our fellowship isn’t as diverse as I expected. According to our study, 93% of our church are Caucasian. However, this does not account for our high school ministry, which has more diversity.
2.5% Pacific Islander or Asian
1% Native American
Although I believe Xenos has grown in diversity, I would like to see our church continue to grow in this area as we expand our footprint in Columbus, Ohio.
People in Xenos are highly educated. The majority of people in our fellowship attained an associate degree or higher.
Our church is very young. Nearly 60% of respondents are 18-36 year old. Yet, this study doesn’t include the hundreds of students and children under the age of 18.
We estimate that about 66% of our church is 25 years old and younger. We praise God for the youth in our church. According to a number of studies and books, many churches in America are hemorrhaging young people.
Additionally, we do have a large number of people who are 55+ years old. According to another study we conducted, our fellowship will have about 1,000 people who will be 65+ years old. Our leadership has put some thinking into proactive steps we can take to help people in this age range live a vibrant life for Christ and finish well.
Our survey showed that the majority of adults in our church are married. In college ministry, we’re seeing a record number of marriages. It seems like people are getting engaged and married every day. According to a recent study on marriage, we have a total of 374 married people in college ministry. We expect for this number to increase.
In anticipation of this, we plan to expand our marriage mentoring and counseling programs. We hope this proactive step will help many of these newly married couples develop healthy relational dynamics in their marriage.
Unlike most churches in America, we’re nearly split down the middle politically. Our church doesn’t drive a political agenda. You won’t hear our central teachers pushing a political agenda if you visit one of our large meetings.
Now that doesn’t mean we’re a-political. As a church, we believe politics are important and that members should participate in the political process. However, politics doesn’t divide us. In fact, we see people from polar ends of the political spectrum serve and love each other in a home church. We believe this is another way we can act as a light in an increasingly divided culture.
Came to Christ in Our Church
We have studied many large churches in America. The overwhelming majority of people we talked to in these churches came to Christ in another church. Often, they transferred from another local church that was closing its doors. A few churches we studied did a remarkable job introducing people to Christ in their church. About 40-50% of their members met Christ in their church!
According to our survey, 58% of respondents came to Christ in Xenos. This doesn’t include Jr. high or high school students, which I believe would put us around 70% or more.
At our annual State of the Church meeting, I asked people in the audience to raise their hand if they met Christ in this church. To my eye, it was way more than 58%. It appeared that more than 70% of people in the room raised their hands.
I praise God that many people meet Christ each year in this fellowship. This isn’t a point of pride for me. It humbles me that God would use our church in this way. And I hope he continues to use us in this way.
Attendance of Religious Service Growing Up
I found this quite interesting. We often say we’re a church that reaches unchurched people. Well, it appears many of the people we reach used to attend other churches. Only 18% said they rarely attended any religious services of any kind. It might be more accurate to say we aim to reach unchurched people and introduce many unchurched people to Christ.
Belief System Growing Up
As turns out, people’s church affiliation did not guarantee that they met Christ in their previous church. Nearly half the people who responded to our survey said they believed in God and 14% did not believe in the biblical God.
LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT
All of the respondents on our survey attend a home church. In fact, more people attend a weekly home church than our large meeting services (Central Teachings). One of our founding pastors Gary Delashmutt described our church well when he said, "Xenos is not a large meeting church that happens to have home groups. It is a home group-based church that also has large meetings."
The graph below shows respondents’ perception of engagement in their home church.
Depth of Relationships
We also studied the depth of members’ relationships in home church. According to our survey results, 92% of people felt they had at least 2 or more close friends in their home church. Most (41%) identified five or more close friends. This fits the picture of interconnectedness Paul envisioned in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.
This stands in stark contrast to our culture where most people feel isolated and lonely. According to sociologist Lynn Smith-Lovin, nearly 50% of Americans report they discuss important matters with either one person or no one at all. And this includes family members!
In recent decades, the number of people who say they can turn to at least one non-family member dropped from 80% to 57%. Even more concerning, those who reported they had no one to talk to about important matters nearly tripled.
Our study also showed that the overwhelming majority of people in our fellowship are involved in a discipleship relationship. This entails studying spiritual content, prayer and personal sharing, typically every week.
Again, I’m grateful God has instilled this as a core value in our fellowship. We’re witnessing what Paul commanded in 2 Timothy 2:2. “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Length of Time Attending Xenos
Most of our members have been attending Xenos for many years. 53% of respondents said they have been attending our fellowship for 5-20 years. This makes sense since home churches represent a network of close spiritual friendships. This also shows that most people in our fellowship are happy with the direction of the church.
Feelings About Xenos’ Current Direction
Indeed, most people (78%) who responded to our survey said they felt positive about the current direction of our church. 6% said they aren’t sure what the current direction of the church is. I believe we need to work on communication in our fellowship. This may provide clarity to those who feel foggy about the direction of the church.
As we examine the survey data, we see some very encouraging results. We’re seeing a high level of engagement and many people coming to Christ in Xenos. That’s great news! We need to keep at the work God has put before us.
At the same time, we have areas in which we need to improve. We need to think carefully about how to lead our older members into what my friend Ryan Lowery calls “radical retirement.” Additionally, I would like to see growing diversity in our church. I believe we’re making in-roads into urban ministry. But we still have lots of work to do. Finally, we need to do better communicating the vision and direction of the church.
Thanks for those who filled out the survey.
Special thanks to Diane McGuire and Teresa Lawless who helped compile and analyze this data.
 Lynn Smith-Lovin, “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades,” American Sociological Review, vol. 71 (June: 2006), 353–375.