EXIT BEHAVIOR & Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher. But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus. #LifeWay #research

by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 6/26/18.

But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The study of Protestant churchgoers found most are committed to staying at their church over the long haul. But more than half say they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s beliefs changed.

Pastors often worry about changing church music and setting off a “worship war,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. But few say they would leave over music.

Churchgoers are much more concerned about their church’s beliefs.

“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” he said. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”

CHURCHGOERS STAY PUT

LifeWay Research switch churches

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,010 Protestant churchgoers—those who attend services at least once a month—to see how strongly they are tied to their local congregations.

Researchers found most churchgoers stay put.

Thirty-five percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years. Twenty-seven percent have been there for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent have been there less than five years, while 17 percent have been at the same church for between five and nine years.

Lutherans (52 percent), Methodists (40 percent) and Baptists (31 percent) are most likely to have been at their church for 25 years or more. Fewer nondenominational (11 percent) or Assemblies of God/Pentecostal churchgoers (13 percent) have such long tenure.

About two-thirds (63 percent) of churchgoers who are 65 or older are completely committed to attending their same church in the future. That drops to 50 percent for those younger than 35.

Older churchgoers are also least likely to want to leave their church. When asked if they’ve thought about going to another church in their area, 92 percent of those 65 or older say no.

Overall, 15 percent of churchgoers say they have thought about going to another church in the past six months. Eighty-five percent say they have not.

Of those thinking about going to another church, about half (54 percent) have already visited another church. Forty-six percent have not.

“If people are thinking about leaving your church, chances are they’ve already started looking,” said McConnell. “So they’re probably halfway out the door.”

LifeWay Research reasons switch church

Read more here … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/06/26/what-makes-churchgoers-stick-around/

CHURCH EXIT & New Research: Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers #LifeWay

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my consulting on church change and church revitalization, I sometimes encounter a judicatory leader or a parent church that will want to change another church’s theology. But, research indicates that you must be very careful in doing so.

I have observed that churches many times grow around a specific theological viewpoint. Sometimes that theological view is in error, unorthodox, schismatic or heretical. In those circumstances it must be changed.

But in my experience I have also seen churches that, while they may have primarily orthodox beliefs, have a unique view on (what John Wesley would call) nonessential theological points. These might include issues such as charismatic gifts, healing, modes of baptism, etc.

In such latter circumstances, the research cited below indicates that we should move cautiously when changing a theological perspective if it is not an essential orthodox belief … or church exit might occur.

Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers

Don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

New Research: Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers
Image: via LifeWay Research

… Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher.

But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The study of Protestant churchgoers found most are committed to staying at their church over the long haul. But more than half say they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s beliefs changed.

Pastors often worry about changing church music and setting off a “worship war,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. But few say they would leave over music.

Churchgoers are much more concerned about their church’s beliefs.

“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” he said. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”

Churchgoers stay put

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,010 Protestant churchgoers—those who attend services at least once a month—to see how strongly they are tied to their local congregations.

Researchers found most churchgoers stay put.

Thirty-five percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years. Twenty-seven percent have been there for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent have been there less than five years, while 17 percent have been at the same church for between five and nine years.

Lutherans (52 percent), Methodists (40 percent) and Baptists (31 percent) are most likely to have been at their church for 25 years or more. Fewer nondenominational (11 percent) or Assemblies of God/Pentecostal churchgoers (13 percent) have such long tenure.

“Most church members have been at their church longer than their pastor,” said McConnell.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/july/churchgoers-stick-around-for-theology-not-music-or-preacher

THEOLOGY & Most Americans Believe personal salvation takes work

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Personal salvation takes work.

Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) say people must contribute their own effort for personal salvation. Half of Americans (52 percent) say good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven. Sixty percent agree that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of their sin…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality, and gender. #LifeWay

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality, and gender.

About half of Americans (49 percent) say sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin. Forty-four percent say it’s not a sin. Seven percent are not sure.

Forty-nine percent say abortion is a sin. Forty percent say it is not. Eleven percent are not sure. Almost 4 in 10 (38 percent) say gender identity is a matter of choice. Half (51 percent) disagree. One in 10 (11 percent) is not sure.

Forty-two percent of Americans say the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today. Forty-four percent disagree. Fourteen percent are not sure.

Women (53 percent) are more likely than men (45 percent) to say sex outside of marriage is a sin. Those who are high school grads or less (56 percent) are more likely to agree than those with bachelor’s degrees (44 percent) or graduate degrees (40 percent). Those with evangelical beliefs (91 percent) are more than twice as likely to agree as those who do not have evangelical beliefs (40 percent).

Americans with evangelical beliefs (87 percent) are more likely to say abortion is a sin than other Americans (41 percent). They are also less likely (32 percent) to say gender identity is a choice than other Americans (40 percent)…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & Americans believe in the Trinity. But it’s complicated.

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) … Americans believe in the Trinity. But it’s complicated.

2016-trinity

Seven out of 10 Americans (69 percent) agree there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Six in 10 say Jesus is both divine and human (61 percent).

But they’re fuzzy on the details of the Trinity. More than half (52 percent) say Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God. And 56 percent say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a person. The Holy Spirit seems to be particularly confusing: A quarter (28 percent) say the Spirit is a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus. Half (51 percent) disagree. Twenty-one percent are not sure.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

For a humorous view of the challenges in explaining the trinity, see this video clip from the Cohen brothers’ movie Hail Caesar!

THEOLOGY & Most Americans believe resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did.

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

The resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did.

2016-bible-1More than half of Americans (58 percent) say God is the author of the Bible. About half say the Bible alone is the written Word of God (52 percent). Two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say the biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. A quarter (23 percent) disagree. Thirteen percent are not sure. Almost all of those with evangelical beliefs (98 percent) agree, as do more than half of Americans who do not hold evangelical beliefs (56 percent).

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & American Views of the Afterlife & Sin

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …Evangelical believers say hell is for real. Other Americans aren’t so sure.

2016-heavenEighty-four percent of those who hold evangelical beliefs say hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ. Only 30 percent of Americans who don’t have evangelical beliefs hold that view.

Overall, fewer than half (40 percent) of Americans say those who don’t believe in Jesus will go to hell.

Many evangelical believers say everybody goes to heaven. They also believe that only those who trust Jesus as their Savior are saved.

Two-thirds of those with evangelical beliefs (64 percent) say heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones. That’s slightly higher than Americans in general (60 percent).

By definition, all those with evangelical beliefs affirm that only people who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation. Overall, about half of Americans (54 percent) say only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.

Everybody sins but it’s no big deal.

2016-sinAmericans admit they aren’t perfect. But they give each other the benefit of the doubt. Two-thirds (65 percent) agree that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. More than half (57 percent) say it would be fair for God to show His wrath against sin. But that wrath seems to be reserved only for the worst sinners.

Three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans disagree with the idea that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation. That includes almost two-thirds (62 percent) who strongly disagree…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

THEOLOGY & Two-thirds of Americans Think God Likes All Religions #Syncretism

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Americans think God likes all religions.

Two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Twenty-four percent disagree. Twelve percent are not sure.

Americans of all ages hold this belief, from those 18 to 34 years old (62 percent) to those 50 and older (67 percent). More than half of African-Americans (69 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), whites (63 percent) and Asian-Americans (57 percent) agree.

The one holdout: Americans with evangelical beliefs (48 percent), who are less likely than Americans who don’t have evangelical beliefs (67 percent) to hold this view.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

THEOLOGY & What Do Americans Believe About God? New Study Explores Our Theology

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Americans don’t know much about theology. Most say God wrote the Bible. But they’re not sure everything in it is true.

Six in 10 say everyone eventually goes to heaven, but half say only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. And while 7 in 10 say there’s only one true God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—two-thirds say God accepts worship of all faiths.

2016-GodThose are among the findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

HOLE IN THE GOSPEL & Fewer Americans Believe Churches Solve Social Problems

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I have pointed out in the book “Cure for the Common Church” that Jesus often met people’s physical needs before he told them that he could solve their spiritual needs. Abraham Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs, confirmed this as the most effective approach.

Thus, churches today that are leading people to Christ do so by first meeting physical needs to demonstrate our compassion, care and good news of salvation.

Here is an important article that reminds us that most people do not see us in this, but they should! To understand the dilemma read this article. To you understand the “cure” read “Cure for the Common Church” chapters 1 and 2.

Fewer Americans Believe Churches Solve Social Problems
by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Facts & Trends, 7/28/16.

America may be facing problems, but a growing number of people say churches are of no help in solving them.

Four out of 10 (39 percent) say churches or other houses of worship offer “not much” or “nothing” toward solving society’s problems. That’s up from 23 percent in 2008, according to a new survey from Pew Research.

Six in 10 (58 percent) say churches and other houses of worship contribute “a great deal” or “some” to solving social problems. That’s down from 75 percent in 2008 and the lowest number since Pew began asking the question in 2001.

PF_2016.07.13_religionpolitics-02-02.png

White evangelicals (70 percent) are most confident of the church’s positive role in society. Nones (38 percent) are far more skeptical.

But both groups have lost confidence in the role of churches in society.

In 2008, 86 percent of evangelicals and 56 percent of nones said houses of worship contribute “a great deal” or “some” to solving society’s problems. Both groups saw a decline of at least 15 percentage points in the latest poll.

The decline cut across religious and political lines.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/07/28/fewer-americans-believe-churches-solve-social-problems/#.V5nqofT3aJI

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

MISSIONARIES & Insanity of God’ Film Shows Faith Amid Despair

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my books “The Healthy Church” and “Cure for the Common Church” I encourage suburban churches to share a greater percentage of their wealth as John Perkins suggests in his “3 Rs of Reconciliation.” However I find very few church doing so. A clearer understanding of the sacrifice of missionaries might help suburban congregations sacrifice more … as missionaries are daily sacrificing around the world. Go see this powerful first film from LifeWay films for a reminder.

Insanity of God’ Film Shows Faith Amid Despair

by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 7/27/16.

Nik Ripken almost abandoned hope when he first arrived in Somalia 25 years ago.

Ripken, then a young International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, had caught a ride with the Red Cross in a small plane carrying relief supplies across the border between Kenya and its war-ravaged neighbor.

What he saw shook him to the core. He met parents who asked not for food and water for themselves, but for burial cloths for the children they’d lost. He saw soldiers passing out narcotics rather than relief supplies to those in need.

It was a country where despair was commonplace.

“It was like I’d been plunged into hell,” Ripken recounts in The Insanity of God, the first theatrical release from LifeWay Films. It opens in 400 theaters across the United States on August 30 as a one-night event.

The movie, based on a book by Ripken (who uses a pseudonym), follows him and his wife Ruth from their days as a young missionary couple just starting out through their time in Somalia and some of the hardest places in the world.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/07/26/insanity-of-god-film-shows-faith-amid-despair/#.V5ihJ_T3aJI

PASTORAL RESTORATION & LifeWay Polls Christians on Pastoral Misconduct & Restoration

“Few Pastors Say Adultery Should Permanently Ban Them from the Pulpit”

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, Christianity Today Magazine, 5/10/16.

Half of Protestant pastors say their colleagues should step down from the pulpit for a time if they are accused of misconduct.

Most say such accusations should be kept in confidence until proven.

And few think pastors who commit adultery should be permanently banned from ministry.

Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

“Pastors believe church leaders should be held to high standards,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “They also want to protect themselves against allegations that could be false.”

… Pastors are split over how long a preacher should step down from public ministry after having an affair.

One in four (24%) supports a permanent withdrawal from public ministry. A similar number (25%) is not sure. About a third (31%) say a pastor should step down between three months and a year.

Older pastors (those over 65) are more likely to want a permanent ban from ministry (28%) than pastors age 55–65 (19%). Middle-aged pastors (those 45–54) are more likely to say from three months to a year is more appropriate (38%).

African American pastors (45%) are more likely to say a pastor should leave for three months to a year than white pastors (30%).

Lutherans are least willing to reinstate, with half (47%) saying an adulterous pastor should leave ministry permanently. Baptists (30% call for a permanent ban) are less willing to reinstate than Methodists (13%), Pentecostals (13%), and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (11%).

“The Scripture says pastors must be above reproach,” said Stetzer. “So it’s not surprising that some want to see fallen pastors banned from ministry. Still, pastors are also people who talk about forgiveness regularly and, by and large, they want to see those who fall have a chance at restoration.”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/may/few-pastors-say-adultery-should-permanently-ban-pulpit.html?paging=off