GENEROSITY & More Devout Means More Giving

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 1/30/17.

A survey from Pew Research found a correlation between religiosity and giving of time and money to others.

Religious individuals are more likely to have volunteered and donated to the poor in the last week compared to the irreligious. Highly religious Christians are also more likely than other self-identified Christians.

A third (33 percent) of Americans say they volunteered in the past week. However, 35 percent of religious individuals volunteered versus 27 percent of the unaffiliated.

Much of the difference comes from church involvement. Twelve percent of Christians say they volunteered mainly through their church and 21 percent say it was primarily through another organization. For the religiously unaffiliated, 24 percent volunteered outside of a church and only 2 percent say they served mainly through a church.

While church participation provides a built-in advantage in opportunities for volunteering for the religious, a similar gap exists in donating to the poor.

More than half (52 percent) of Christians say they donated money, time, or goods to help the poor in the past week. Fewer than a third (31 percent) of the unaffiliated say the same.

The most giving were among the adherents of non-Christian faiths (56 percent), evangelical Christians (55 percent), Jews (54 percent), mainline Protestants (49 percent), and Catholics (49 percent).

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2017/01/30/more-devout-means-more-giving/#.WI-Q4jw8KaM

CHOOSING A CHURCH & Americans look for good sermons, warm welcome

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship, by Pew Research, 8/26/16.

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

Perhaps as a result of the value they place on good sermons, church leadership and the style of worship services, many people – even in this age of technology – find there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when seeking information about a new religious home. Fully 85% of those who have looked for a new house of worship say they attended worship services at a church they were considering, and seven-in-ten say they spoke with members of the congregation or to friends or colleagues about their decision. Looking for information online may be growing more common, especially among young people and those who have looked for a congregation recently. But online information still appears to be far less important to potential congregants than experiencing the atmosphere of the congregation firsthand.

The single most common reason people give for having looked for a new congregation is that they moved: Roughly one-third of adults say they have searched for a new place of worship because they relocated. By comparison, fewer people say they sought a new congregation because of a disagreement with clergy or other members at their previous house of worship (11%) or because they got married or divorced (11%). About one-in-five adults (19%) volunteered that they have looked for a new congregation for some other reason, including other problems with a previous church, changes in their own beliefs or for social or practical reasons.

These are some of the key findings from the fourth in a series of reports based on Pew Research Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Study. The study and this report were made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the project from Lilly Endowment Inc. The first report on the 2014 Landscape Study, based on a telephone survey of more than 35,000 adults, examined the changing religious composition of the U.S. public and documented the fluidity of religion in the U.S., where roughly one-third of adults now have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised. The second report described the religious beliefs, practices and experiences of Americans, as well the social and political views of different religious groups. A third report drew on both the national telephone survey and a supplemental survey of participants in Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel to describe how Americans live out their religion in their everyday lives.

Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/2016/08/23/choosing-a-new-church-or-house-of-worship/

RELIGION & Pew’s list of most & least religious nations (US in the middle of the pack globally)

by ANGELINA E. THEODOROU, Pew Research, 12/23/15.

More than half of Americans (53%) now say religion is very important in their lives, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. While this figure has declined somewhat in recent years – down from 56% in 2007 – Americans remain in the middle of the pack in terms of importance of religion when compared with people around the world.

In fact, the share of Americans who say religion is very important is close to the global median of respondents who say this in a separate survey.

By this measure, Americans place less importance on religion in their lives than do people in a number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. For example, nearly universal shares of Ethiopians (98%), Senegalese (97%) and Indonesians (95%) say religion is very important, as do eight-in-ten or more Nigerians (88%), Filipinos (87%) and Indians (80%).

U.S. is in the middle of pack when it comes to importance of religion in people's lives

Countries where religion is broadly seen as important have a variety of religious makeups, ranging from predominantly Christian nations like the Philippines, to mostly Muslim countries like Indonesia, to Hindu-majority India and even to some religiously mixed countries like Nigeria.

Meanwhile, religion is considerably more important to Americans than to residents of many other Western and European countries, as well as other advanced economy nations, such as Japan.

Generally, poorer nations tend to be religious; wealthy less so, except for U.S.

Overall, people in wealthier nations tend to place less importance on religion than those in poorer nations. However, the United States – the wealthiest nation included in the 2015 global survey based on gross domestic product per capita – is a notable exception to this trend. Americans are much more likely than their counterparts in other economically advanced nations to say religion is very important. About twice as many or more Americans say religion is very important in their lives compared with the share of people who say this in Australia (18%), Germany (21%) and Canada (27%), the next three wealthiest countries included in our survey.

The U.S. — which, like much of Europe, has been experiencing a rise in the share of people who say they have no religion — is also near the middle when it comes to the share of people who say religion is “not too” or “not at all” important in their lives. About one-in-five Americans (22%) say this, compared with a global median of 13%. In 14 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, few, if any, say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives. By comparison, France (61%), Japan (58%) and Australia (56%) are among several countries where majorities say religion is not too or not at all important to them…

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/23/americans-are-in-the-middle-of-the-pack-globally-when-it-comes-to-importance-of-religion/

SKEPTICISM & Millennials Increasingly View the Church Negatively

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 2/26/16.

Not only are they not showing up for services, a growing number of millennials believe churches are bad for society.

Since 2010, millennials’ view of churches and other religious organizations as having a positive effect on the country has fallen 18 percentage points, according to Pew Research.

In 2015, 55 percent of young adults believed churches have a positive impact on the country compared with 73 percent five years ago.

The drop among millennials comes when other generations view churches more positively. In 2010, millennials had the highest view of churches. Today, it’s the lowest of any generation.

Churches weren’t the only institution about which millennials grew more cynical. Five years ago, 40 percent of young adults thought the national news media had a positive impact. That portion is only 27 percent today, largely in line with other generations’ view of the national media.

By and large, however, millennials didn’t fit with the perception they are anti-institutional. Among every institution, except the church, young adults were the most likely to say it was having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country today. Generally speaking, the younger you are the more likely you are to see non-religious institutions as having a positive impact on society.

Overall, among the 10 institutions Pew asked about, churches and religious organizations fell in the middle. Millennials view small businesses (86 percent), technology companies (77 percent), colleges and universities (73 percent), and labor unions (57 percent) more positively than churches.

Despite the decline, young adults still see churches as more positive contributors to society than the energy industry (54 percent), banks and other financial institutions (45 percent), entertainment industry (39 percent), large corporations (38 percent), and the national news media (27 percent).

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/02/26/millennials-increasingly-view-the-church-negatively/#.V7Ltt8T3aJJ

FAITH SHARING & Research suggests younger evangelicals are slightly more likely to share their faith

by Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 5/13/16.

About a quarter of U.S. religiously affiliated adults share their faith at least once a week, according to Pew’s study of American religious beliefs and activities.

The practice of sharing one’s faith is up slightly since 2007.

While older Americans are more engaged in other religious practices (attending church, prayer, Scripture reading), Pew found younger adults are slightly more likely than those 65 and older to share their faith.

insights-sharefaith

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/05/13/whos-sharing-their-faith/#.V7LtBMT3aJI

GENERATION Z & What Churches Need to Know About Generation Z

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, 8/9/16.

While many churches remain concerned about attracting millennials, a new generation of adults is emerging with their own identity.

Generation Z, also known as iGen, are more than 25 percent of America’s population. The oldest members of this generation turn 18 this year. Just who are they and what does the church need to know about them?

New research reported by The Washington Post reveals a complicated picture of the generation born since 1998.

1. First true digital native generation

… Since they were born, Generation Z has grown up connected to the web and social media. They are the first generation to have their parents post baby pictures and dance recitals on Facebook. Today Gen Zers are documenting their lives on Instagram and Snapchat.

…But this increased exposure has brought unintended consequences. More than 4 in 10 members of Generation Z (42 percent) say social media impacts their self-esteem.

Churches should focus on helping tweens and teens find their identity and self-worth in Christ, not in the online opinion of others.

2. Love to communicate, but not always with words

… Instead of reading texts or blogs, they would rather interact with video and other visual forms. And they would rather do it online than with a television. Among 13- to 24-year-olds, 96 percent watched online video content over the past week at an average of 11 hours a week. By contrast, 81 percent of the same group watched scheduled TV for an average of 8 hours weekly.

You can also see Generation Z’s preference for visual interaction with their top three social media platforms, according to the research in The Washington Post. More than half like Vine (54 percent) and Instagram (52 percent), while a third enjoy Twitter (34 percent). The first two are video and photo sharing sites and Twitter increasingly incorporates images and videos.

…Learn how to use video content, like the new Instagram Stories. Here are five ways churches can use that feature.

3. Most racially diverse generation

…Among Americans under 18, whites comprise just over half (52 percent), according to Census analysis by Brookings. As you examine younger segments of Generation Z, the diversity only grows. Looking at the Census data, Pew Research found whites are a minority among children under 5.

Fourteen states already have “majority minority” populations under 18. And in half the states, Generation Z is more than 40 percent minority.

The need for churches to become multicultural is only going to increase as Generation Z enters adulthood. Being surrounded by people from different ethnicities and cultures is becoming the norm for this generation.

[Read more about multicultural churches in Facts & Trendsissue “United by the Gospel.”]

4. Only beginning their cultural influence

… Early research indicates this new generation is less idealistic and more thrifty than millennials. As they take on more societal influence, their traits—for better or worse—will hold more sway over culture.

If trends continue, fewer members of Generation Z will see religion as important, according to Pew Research.

Evangelical churches will need to find ways to retain children who grow up attending their churches and reach the growing number of the emerging adults who come from unchurched families. After researching college students, a study found eight steps churches can take now to reach (and keep) young adults.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/08/09/what-churches-need-to-know-about-generation-z/#.V6oSnlT3aJI

GENDER & How Religious Are Women Versus Men?

Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 10/4/16.

Women remain more interested in faith than men, both in the United States and around the world, according to Pew Research.

Six in 10 U.S. women say religion is very important in their lives, while two-thirds pray daily and 4 in 10 say they go to services at least once a week.

Among American men, fewer than half (47 percent) say religion matters to them. About half pray daily, and one-third say they go to church weekly.

There’s a similar gap worldwide. Pew estimates religious women outnumber men by about 97 million worldwide. The gap in church attendance and practice is particularly evident.

PewResearch.org

A recent LifeWay Research survey found a majority of women (51 percent) prefer to talk about their faith more than political issues, while a majority of men (69 percent) say they’d rather discuss politics.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/08/04/the-god-gap-how-religious-are-women-versus-men/#.V6MUqFT3aJI