Jun 26, 2024

What Is Most Important to a Meaningful Church Experience?

BU header photo of a small group having a meaningful church experience

How can the activities in our church buildings matter more in building disciples?

In this excerpt from Making Space for Formation—the third and final volume in the Making Space series, created in partnership with Aspen Group—we meet a new cohort, devoted Christians, and learn how this group engages with and practices their faith.

Making Space for Formation

Vol. 3 of a Three-Part Series on Why Church Design Matters in Ministry

Service & Discipleship Are Key to a Meaningful Church Experience
While spiritual formation doesn’t exclusively happen in a church building, embodied worship and fellowship in church are powerful influences on a person’s faith walk. We’ve seen this in past research: A coffee shop, park or even a home cannot replace the sacredness and intentionality of a church building.

It’s this sacredness that people expect from a church. And Christians, as they are formed, increasingly want their church to point to God, not only in the explicit worship and teaching, but also in its appearance, how it makes them feel, and the subconscious ways they experience the space.

We see in the data that the most devoted Christians—Christians who strongly agree “my religious faith is important in my life,” “Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead to conquer sin and death” and say “yes” they are currently being discipled—value community over a thought-provoking sermon. As Christians grow spiritually, so also grows the yearning to experience the peace and presence of God and demonstrate an active faith through practices like prayer, worship, discipleship and communion. Church is the place where these practices flourish.

BU chart visualizing what Christians and devoted Christians say is part of a meaningful church experience

Above all else, Christians want to feel connected to God at church, and this desire increases with one’s spiritual engagement. You may find those who are experiencing greater spiritual formation place a higher value on church design that reflects their valued experience of participation. Spaces that create room for engagement with others, such as breakout rooms, modular seating and even the layout of a sanctuary or main gathering space, can positively affect a Christian’s church experience.

Making Space for Formation

Vol. 3 of a Three-Part Series on Why Church Design Matters in Ministry

Over the past two years, Barna Group and Aspen Group have journeyed together to research the way church spaces impact faith formation and community outreach. The study, titled Making Space, led to a number of research journals and briefings, as well as other resources for pastors who were curious about the implication of church design.

To learn more about devoted Christians, and how your church spaces can make a greater impact on congregants’ faith formation and practice, check out Making Space for Formation, available in the Barna Shop and on Barna Access Plus.

About the Research

Research for Making Space consists of data and analysis based on an online quantitative survey. This was a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted from February 28–March 9, 2022. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 2.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For

this survey, researchers used an online panel for data collection and observed a quota random sampling methodology. Quotas were set to obtain a minimum readable sample by a variety of demographic factors, and samples were weighted by region, ethnicity, education, age and gender to reflect their natural presence in the United States population (using U.S. Census Bureau data for comparison).

Photo by Small Group Network on Unsplash

© Barna Group, 2024

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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