BNc asked Bradd Harrub about the survey. He kindly took out the time to respond.
BNc: What’s the purpose of the survey?
Brad: Several years ago we began tracking actual numbers of New Testament Christians (using directories, databases, attendance records, etc.). The overwhelming trend was that the numbers were going in the wrong direction in the majority of congregations. Add to this that I have had the opportunity to get out and speak to hundreds of congregations that appear to be rapidly aging, and not adding young members to replace them when they die. We realized there is a major problem.
And here is the irony: we believe the church is approaching this in the exact opposite way it should be addressed. Many congregations are no longer hearing sermons on hell, authority, the uniqueness of the N.T. Church, etc., as those are viewed as divisive and too strong. And so we have two generations who have no appreciation for Biblical authority and the wrath and judgment of God!
So we developed a survey that is unbiased—not paid for by any special interest group or faction of people. We wanted to go straight to those who had left the church and ask them directly, “Why did you leave?” Our goal is to collect more than 1000 responses. In the first 24-hour period we had already heard from 150 individuals who had left the church.
BNc: When and where will the survey be published?
Brad: Once the data is collected and analyzed we will report it in several manners. There will be a summary report in Think magazine. We will also make portions of it available online at focuspress.org, and we have plans to publish a book reporting not just the problem, but also possible solutions.
BNc: Any predictions on how people will answer the survey as to why they left?
Brad: From the surveys that we have already collected, it is obvious some individuals were personally hurt by the actions of others. Other individuals have talked about legalism or church doctrine. Some have obviously been enticed by the world. Many are expressing real emotional pain. And many are unfamiliar with what the Bible truly teaches.
BNc: Is a survey like this reliable, or is it just a place for people to complain?
Brad: While the survey will remain anonymous from a reporting perspective, about 35% are giving their names and addresses, allowing us to get a clear picture if this is a local phenomenon, or if it is a nationwide trend. While we did allow people the opportunity to vent any issues they had, the survey probes much deeper than the average complaints, to see if there are trends with education, music, sexual activity, etc.
BNc: How do you answer people who say we just need to preach the truth and not worry with those who left?
Brad: To those who say we need to preach the Truth I say, “Amen!” I am a firm believer that we must return to the Book. Our survey will hopefully be a tool that others can use to help them better understand where we are missing in our teaching, and to help us look at what is effective and what is not. We hope this survey will open the eyes of modern Christians to help shake us out of our apathy and get busy at teaching and preaching.
For anyone who has left the church, please consider taking the survey. It is found online here.
The survey takes only 5-10 minutes to complete. Please pass this link to anyone you know who has left the church and invite them to take the survey. Please feel free to post it in chat rooms, forums, etc.