CNLP 024: Churchless: Why And How America is Learning to Live Without the Church—An Interview with David Kinnaman

What does it mean to be the church in a post-Christian culture? And why are more and more American Christians becoming churchless?

David Kinnaman, President of Barna Research Group, talks about why Americans are becoming churchless more quickly than ever before, and what to do about it.

Welcome to Episode 24 of the Podcast.


This podcast is the final part of a 5 part series on why people are attending church less often. If you want to access the entire series, here it is:

Part 1: 10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Less Often

Part 2: CNLP Episode 23: Why People Are Attending Church Less Often—An Interview with Will Mancini.

Part 3: 5 Ways to Embrace Infrequent Church Attenders

Part 4: 10 Predictions About the Future Church and Shifting Attendance Patterns

Guest Links

The Barna Group


David Kinnaman on Facebook

David Kinnaman on Twitter

Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them

(BOOK) You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith 

(STUDY) You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church … and Rethinking Faith 

unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why it Matters

Making Space for Millennials

Sacred Roots

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Will Mancini, Episode 23

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often

George Barna

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Gabe Lyons

Bill Denzel

The Orange Conference 2015

Donald Miller

Jon Acuff

Reggie Joiner

Doug Fields

Jeff Henderson

Jud Wilhite

Perry Noble

Josh Gagnon

Jenni Catron

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

David is a brilliant leader who’s got his finger on the pulse of the church and culture. Some of the issues we continually face as a church are, why are people attending church less, and why are increasingly fewer adults attending church? David gives us great insight and tells us what we can do now as leaders.

1. Understand how radically things have changed. The world is changing rapidly. As David outlined:

  • Two decades ago, only 1 in 8 people had never been to church in America, and that’s since doubled to 1 in every 4.  We now have a large percentage of people who have no muscle memory of regularly going to church or being part of a Christian community.
  • 38 percent of the American population is defined as what David calls “post-Christian,” which means one isn’t defined by a measurable orientation around the Christian faith. (Read more about those measurements here.)
  • 48 percent of Mosaics/ Millennials are classified as post-Christian.
  • That said, young adults are interested in spiritual things are are looking for answers to life’s question. However, they’re not looking for apologetics that are formulaic.
  • Mosaics/Millennials are often more willing to be challenged than we are willing to challenge them; young Christians are waiting for a hard ask.
  • When there is no recognizable contrast between the church and the world,  millennials ask what you’re calling people into other than a more committed relationship with Jesus?
  • Although people may agree with the church’s teachings (69 percent), they feel like they don’t need to attend service to achieve spiritual fulfillment because the church is struggling to make a witness to the world.

2. Focus as much on sending people out as you do on bringing people in. Equipping Christians for vocational discipleship is increasingly important. Instead of only bringing people into the church to do ministry, help them see that their vocation and work outside the church is also ministry.  As a church leader, equip, send, and prepare people to integrate their faith with work and life.

3. Cultivate your own soul.  As Jesus says, “What profit is it if a man gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” Church leaders who have an authentic, deep and abiding relationship with Christ will make a better connection with post-Christian than church leaders who are simply looking at latest trends or gimmicks to grow their church. Authenticity and integrity resonate.

Quotes from David

Want Incredible Training from Today’s Top Leaders?

Then don’t miss the Orange Conference 2015 on April 29-May 1st in Atlanta.

Learn from leaders like Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Jud Wilhite, Jon Acuff, Jenni Catron, Josh Gagnon, and more. I’ll be teaching at the conference as well and have put together a senior leader track designed exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors.

Register here today.

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as Derwin Gray, Ron Edmondson, Jon Acuff, William Vanderbloemen, Tony Morgan, Frank Bealer, Jeff Henderson, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble, and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via



TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Jenni Catron

From record industry executive, to executive leadership at Cross Point Church and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Jenni Catron has led a lot of change. In this episode, Jenni shares her insights both on the structural and people side of change.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 25.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

CNLP 024: Churchless: Why And How America is Learning to Live Without the Church—An Interview with David Kinnaman


  1. Pierre on December 15, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Carey

    Throw some of your ads inside the podcasts. To be honest, I skip your first 5 minutes.

    Thanks for great content. I have listened to most of your podcasts.



  2. […] Churchless | Carey Niewhof episode 24 Check out the entire episode and the shownotes for so much great content around the idea of engagement. […]

  3. Renee on September 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I have yet to listen to this podcast but am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to listen when I am able to make time to listen well. How accurate are these statistics today?

    As shared on FB, I find those statistics troubling. I’d prefer a more positive look at things but at the same time, what are we, as Christians, NOT doing?

    Are we complacent and apathetic about our own faith and don’t feel the need to share it?

    Do we rely on a generational mindset of “if I go, my children go” yet refuse (I wish I could underline or bold to add emphasis!) to realise that this “loyalty program” no longer exists?

    Is the church relying on an ageing approach to church because of generational control and conflict? Is it a refusal to acknowledge a cultural shift?

    I find that this approach to statistics difficult as I feel that there are differences due to our individual national cultures with respect to religion. As a Canadian, does our cultural desire to be kind and peace-keeping affect our need to be counter-cultural in a world that no longer accepts nor tolerates a one-way belief system?

  4. […] Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America Is Learning to Live Without the Church—an Intervi… […]

  5. […] Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America Is Learning to Live Without the Church—an Intervi… […]

  6. […] Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America Is Learning to Live Without the Church—an Intervi… […]

  7. […] Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America Is Learning to Live Without the Church—an Intervi… […]

  8. […] Here or the screen shot below for a direct link to the podcast’s […]

  9. Barbara Graves on March 1, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Each week I think, “There’s no way to top that podcast.” Then the next week’s podcast comes out, and it’s amazing, too. Thank you, Carey, for bringing us the best voices to help shape the leadership decisions and ministry perspectives we need to keep our ministries effective today.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Barbara that’s way too kind. Thank you. I am amazed at what the guests have brought. So encouraging to hear how it’s connecting.

  10. […] CNLP 24: Churchless: Why And How America is Learning to Live Without the Church—An Interview with … by @cnieuwhof […]

  11. Chris Shumate on February 27, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Something I would be interested in reading, but not researching to be honest, is if there is a correlation between America today and the America of Jonathan Edwards’ day. Throughout history there have been times of revival and awakenings.

    Is it possible that we are on the doorstep of another Great Awakening?

    I don’t know the answer to that, but I feel we may be getting closer.

    If millennials are wanting the hard ask that churches aren’t doing, when will leaders within churches get it? Will it come as millennials start birthing their own churches?

    So if anyone knows of a study of America today and America of the 1730s-50s please share it.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 27, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      I would LOVE to read any study that might link the two. Brilliant question Chris.

  12. jonperrin on February 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    This podcast and CNLP #23 were outstanding! So many pastors are fearful of the future. But the first responsibility of any leader is to define reality. Getting a good idea of the situation on the ground allows us to chart a course through the rapids. Great stuff… keep ’em coming! We’re praying for you down here in the Texas Hill Country!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 26, 2015 at 6:15 am

      Jon…thanks. Loved these as well…so thankful for Will and David. Thank you so much for your prayers. Needed and appreciated!

  13. […] Part 5: CNLP Episode 24: Churchless: Why and How America is Learning to Live Without The Church—An Intervi… […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.