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.
Is it possible that George Barna has the definition of a PIBO assigned to the wrong group?
Hi Thom, I agree with your statement “But we must be willing to explore new ways to engage this unengaged, unreached segment.”
Do you have any suggestions, guidelines or principles that you have seen work?
Anybody willing to comment about ideas that have been working for you lately?
I don’t know about the “never experience God at Church” part, but I think a small group or social activity is the best way to get to know what makes them come in the first place and what is holding them back to then draw them in. They need to experience Christ to then experience the Church, for the Church is the Body of Christ. We need to be open to accept that just maybe, they’re attending the wrong church. Refer them to one where you understand can meet their particular need and let them know that what you want is to see them submerge into the life of Church and discover the deep treasures that lie beneath.
@Brenda; I think that for some of the PiOB’s I know (and have known) they need to be reached for Jesus and then could be part of the church they are attending/are members. The problem I see is that for some they would have to admit they are lacking something in their walk; which is spiritual suicide! They are leaders in the church!! What would happen if the chair of the deacons admitted that his/her walk was lacking something? Just sayin’!
@Thom you are right when you say “But we must be willing to explore new ways to engage this unengaged, unreached segment.” We must also be willing to put in place the new ways of doing things in order to reach this group and others within and without the church building. I have seen churches explore new ways to reach people then not put those new ways into action plans. If we do not get our worship revamped to reach the unreaches the only people we will reached is the reached and that means death to the church.
What are those new and different ways of reaching this “strategic” group in our church today; and I totally agree with you. Saw some of them just yesterday.
I’ve been a PIBO attendee for a couple of years (on the Sundays when I actually do go to church). I don’t think much about it anymore, figure perhaps someday I’ll engage, but I can’t stand the music at contemporary churches and I can’t find an engaging message at traditional churches. I’m a conundrum, a 30 something who likes organ music led hymns, but who also likes PowerPoint sermons with a point.
We might have our preferences of music and how we like to have the sermon presented, but those are NOT the reasons why see seek to go to Church. It’s almost childish to think that way. Our primary reason is be in the house of God where we can unite our hearts in humble adoration and exalt the awesome God, who is Holy and Perfect and we get the privilege to call Father and He calls us His Children. It does NOT matter the music – whether organ lead hymns or a full band with percussions and peruvian flute, and hear a message, whether delivered with PowerPoint or without even a microphone, but that it is the Gospel Truth of God’s redeeming love. So @Dave, I have the feeling that if you just so happen to find a church with the organ lead hymns and PowerPoint sermons, “with a point”, you will then say, something like, “oh and that it does not go beyond 16 minutes…” I suggest that you seriously examen your heart and your true intentions, and spend time in private worship at home and Bible Study…in prayer tell Him you love Him and wish to be in the place where you can serve Him and be part of the Body of Christ.
@ Brenda, While I understand your point—I respectfully disagree. We all have our own personalities and tastes. It is okay to be entertained at church or any other place. The Lord asks us to have fun but remember the Creator. The book of Ecclesiastes is all about that. In the end it is about worship, but who defines worship? Who says one way is better then another? I know I personally must enjoy the sounds and be at peace with where I am at SO THAT I can worship. I am human, I don’t just turn on and off true worship.
It is also true that God created us with the desire to know and worship him and him alone. We will never feel fulfilled until we do. But the Bible never details what worship looks like. Paul even declares that he choses to become all things to all people SO AS to win them over to Christ.
Dace I get your point and I feel your pain. I encourage you to pray and look around until you find a place in which you “meet” Jesus on a consistent basis.