They quietly walk into church, say little, look a bit detached, and leave quickly when the service concludes.
These church attendees are Present In Body Only (PIBO). They may be counted as members of a church’s flock, but their hearts, minds and souls are not engaged by what’s happening at church. They are among the legion of church attendees who, according to George Barna, never experience God at church. They attend out of a sense of duty, or to accompany a family member, or simply out of habit. For PIBOs, the church worship experience—even at grandly produced services—is a spiritual yawn. The worship recipe (half upfront monologue and half sing-along) in use at churches small and large does not stir the PIBOs.
Many church leaders may not recognize these people as PIBOs–or care that their hearts and minds are not in the room. Because PIBOs satisfy the score that leaders track–head count–they serve their purpose just as they are.
But PIBOs provide the most accessible low-hanging fruit for any mission-minded church. They are very reachable–if a ministry chooses to care enough, to listen enough, to change enough, to reach them.
In these days of declining church attendance, the PIBOs give us a prime opportunity to reach the spiritually dry with the Living Water of the real Lord. But we must be willing to explore new ways to engage this unengaged, unreached segment.