ATTENDANCE & When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church” #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell church leaders not to plant a church in the fall or launch a new service or venue at that time. That is because while there is a peak of interest in going to church before Thanksgiving, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the lowest time of the year for people to be interested in attending church.

It is much better to launch new multiplication efforts during Lent in the Spring run up to Easter as depicted in the chart below.

When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church”

by Nobel Kuriakose, Pew Research, 5/18/14.

More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100…

In 2013, the highest share of searches for “church” are on the week of Easter Sunday, followed by the week of Christmas and the week of Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent.

The lowest share of searches occur on the week of Thanksgiving in November each year, and the summer months have consistently low levels of interest in web searches for “church.” Sociologists also have previously reported low levels of church attendance during the summer months. Laurence Iannaccone and Sean Everton analyzed weekly attendance records from churches and argued that people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right in a journal article titled “Never on Sunny Days.”

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/18/when-easter-and-christmas-near-more-americans-search-online-for-church/

TRENDS & 6 in 10 US churches are declining or plateaued per #LifeWayResearch

Read more from LifeWay Research here … https://factsandtrends.net/2019/03/15/are-american-churches-growing/

BIBLICAL ENTHUSIASM & Sadly it is declining in America like it has in Europe. But, there is something God can do through us to restore www.Enthusiast.life !

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Two of the best researchers on the church in America have pointed out in a recent article that enthusiastic Christianity is on the decline. I hate to hear this, but I believe we must understand the reasons why and petition the Lord of the harvest to show as ways to restore biblical enthusiasm. And I believe He can!

Read this article citing research by colleagues Mark Chavez and David Voas and then let us look for ways to help people restore the enthusiasm that God intends for them to experience.

Is American religion exceptional? Maybe, maybe not by Yonat Shimron Religious News Service, 11/19/18.

… In an article published in Sociological Science last week (Nov. 15), David Voas and Mark Chaves, of University College London and Duke University, respectively, maintain that U.S. religious devotion may be higher than in other Western countries but it too is slowly declining and essentially no different from other developed nations in its growing secularization.

On the other side are two graduate students, one at Harvard and the other at Indiana University, who argue the most devout Americans have remained so and the decline is coming from those with moderate religious habits…

Voas and Chaves counter that even the intensely religious segment of the American population is shrinking. Just as Europe has become more secular, so too has America, just at a slower rate.

“The fact of the matter is, even on the intense religious category the U.S. is declining, if very slowly,” said Chaves, a professor of sociology and religious studies at Duke University.

Both teams examined five indicators of intense religion: strong religious affiliation, more than weekly attendance at religious services, biblical literalism, affiliation with an evangelical religious group and praying multiple times per day.

Voas and Chaves argue that between 1973 and today there’s been a significant drop in religious Americans’ responses in three key indicators: affiliation, the number of religious services people attend each week and their belief that the Bible is the literal word of God.

For example, only 6.6 percent of Americans attended church more than once a week between 2012 and 2016, a drop from 8 percent in 1973.

Asked if “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word,”

31 percent said yes between 2010 and 2016, a drop from 35 percent between 1984 and 1990.

The reason for the overall drop? It’s generational, argue Voas and Chaves…

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/11/19/is-american-religion-exceptional-maybe-maybe-not/

TRENDS & Access link to the #DukeUniversity National Congregations Study #NCS #NCSIII #StrategicChurchPlanning

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I often cite the valuable research in Duke University’s National Congregations Survey.

Here are a few application ideas:

TRENDS & 5 Trends from the Third Wave of the National Congregations Study #DukeUniversity #JSSR #UnivChicago

SIZE & The Median Church in the US has 75 Regular Participants on Sunday Mornings #NationalCongregationsStudy #NCS

TRENDS & Church Is More Informal, Like Society, Study Finds #NationalCongregationsSurvey #NYTimes

MULTIPLICATION & Churches are starting more sites, but fewer worship services.

DIVERSITY & Diversity in churches is increasing. #reMIXbook

CHURCH SIZE & Separation between smallest and largest churches widens.

TRENDS & The Most Impt. Observations from The National Congregations Study (NCSIII) #Duke #MarkChaves #NCS

 

To access this study yourself,  below is an introduction to the National Congregations Study and a link to the results.


(the following is from http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/about.html)

About the National Congregations Study

Congregations are the basic social unit of American religious life. They are the local gatherings of people that exist within almost every religion in the United States. They include churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Nearly all collective religious activity in America occurs through them.

Congregations are:

  • the primary site of religious ritual activity;
  • an organizational model followed even by religious groups new to this country;
  • a place of sociability and community for more than half of all Americans;
  • a source of opportunities for community service, civic engagement, and political action;
  • a location for a wide variety of community events and social service activities; and
  • the main context in which religious identities are forged and reinforced through education and practice.

The National Congregations Study (NCS) is an ongoing national survey effort to gather information about the basic characteristics of America’s congregations. The first wave of the NCS took place in 1998, Wave II was fielded in 2006–07, and Wave III was completed in 2012. The study was repeated in order to track both continuity and change among American congregations. Waves II and III also explore subjects that were not explored in Wave I. Over all three waves, a total of 3,815 congregations have participated in the NCS.

There is no doubt that religious congregations are a significant part of American society. We know congregational life is changing, but it is difficult to document exactly what is changing in the 21st century, and how fast. The National Congregations Study contributes to knowledge about American congregations by collecting information about a wide range of their characteristics and programs across time. NCS results have helped us to better understand many aspects of congregational life in the United States.
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In all three waves,
the research was done in conjunction with the General Social Survey (GSS). The 1998, 2006, and 2012 GSS asked respondents who attend religious services to name their religious congregation, thus generating a nationally representative sample of religious congregations. Researchers then located these congregations.

A key informant at each congregation – a minister, priest, rabbi, or other staff person or leader – provided each congregation’s information via a one-hour interview conducted either over the phone or in person. The survey gathered information on many topics, including the congregation’s leadership, social composition, structure, activities, and programming.

Using this web site you can review the survey methodology and the questionnaires themselves (Methodology), work with the survey responses to find out the basic facts for each question (Explore the Data), create your own customized tables that cross-tabulate responses to two different questions (Explore the Data), and learn where you can find more extensive writings about the research results (Study Writings).

You can also download the combined data from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). Both waves have been combined into one dataset for ease of use.

Read more at … http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/about.html

TRENDS & More Than 3 in 4 Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse” According to New #GallupResearch

by Justin McCarthy, Gallup, 6/1/18..

… Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is “poor” — the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are “only fair,” and 14% say they are “excellent” or “good.”

Line graph: How Americans rate state of U.S. moral values -- excellent, good, only fair, poor? Highs: exc/good: 23% (2011); poor: 49% (‘18).

These data are from Gallup’s annual Values and Morals poll, conducted May 1-10.

Americans have always viewed the state of U.S. morals more negatively than positively. But the latest figures are the worst to date, with a record-high 49% rating values as poor and a record-tying-low 14% rating them as excellent or good.

In earlier polls on the measure, Americans were about as likely to rate the country’s moral standing as only fair as they were to say it was poor. But in 10 of the past 12 annual polls since 2007, Americans have been decidedly more likely to rate it as poor…

More Than Three in Four Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse”

When asked whether U.S. moral values are getting better or worse, Americans have consistently said they are worsening, and that remains the case today. Currently, 77% say moral values in the U.S. are getting worse, while 18% say they are getting better.

Views of the direction of the country’s morals were slightly more negative from 2006 to 2008, however, when 81% to 82% said the state of moral values was declining.

Line graph: Americans' views of U.S. moral values’ direction: 18% getting better, 77% getting worse (2018). High, getting worse: 82% (‘07).

Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/235211/half-americans-say-moral-values-poor.aspx

TRENDS & Liberal religions’ loss has not been our gain. Conservative religions, at best, used to hold steady as a percentage of the population; now we are not even doing that.

by , “Flunking Sainthood,” 5/8/18.

… For a long time, the strict-religions theory seemed to explain a great deal, at least in the United States: in the 1980s and 1990s, conservative religions were indeed thriving even as mainline Protestantism’s numbers went down the toilet.

More recent work has called this into question, driven by the reality that almost all religious traditions are now struggling — even conservative ones like evangelical Protestantism and Mormonism, which once seemed so reliably immune.

Sociologist Darren Sherkat calls the old strict-church theory the “supply side” thesis, since it assumes that religion is akin to a free market economy in which a religion might increase its market share through the conversions of people who are attracted to its unique message. Sherkat contrasts it with the other main thesis that is gaining ground, secularization:

. . . secularization theories argue that as the United States becomes more secular, religious attachments will become less important. Hence, secularization proponents expect to find that nonaffiliation is increasing, that religious switching is more common, and that more fundamentalist and exclusivist religious groups will decline or only increase through fertility differentials.

And that is indeed the case: all three of those factors he mentions are now happening. If supply-side theories alone could explain why liberal religions seemed to decline in the 1990s and beyond, Sherkat argues, we would see evidence that the exodus from liberal traditions such as mainline Protestantism was matched by a corresponding growth in conservative religions that was not already due to those religions’ higher fertility – and the data don’t show that.

That’s not to say that the secularization theorists have it all right, either; Sherkat says their “grand, linear, evolutionary perspective” of religious decline “is just as far-fetched as the supply-side stories yearning for a sectarian Christian America.” Rather, religious decline is related to broader demographic patterns that are complex and ever-changing, from declining fertility and immigration to generational replacement. A big part of the problem is that Americans are having fewer kids.

Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow explains it well:

Some argued that [mainline Protestantism declined because] people wanted strict churches and these had become too lax. The better evidence, though, showed that nearly all the decline in mainline denominations was attributable to demographics. Mainline members were better educated and more likely to be middle class or upper-middle class than the rest of the population. As such, mainline members married later, had children later, and had fewer of them. Memberships declined because there were simply fewer children being born into these denominations. Evangelical Protestants, meanwhile, escaped these demographic problems. As long as they kept marrying young and having large families, their growth would make up for the mainline losses. There is just one problem: the same demographics that caused problems for mainline churches are now prevalent in the whole society.

To sum up: liberal religions’ loss has not been our gain. Conservative religions, at best, used to hold steady as a percentage of the population; now we are not even doing that.

Instead, the real growth has been in nonaffiliation, as people are no longer switching religions so much as dropping out altogether. About 7% of Americans claimed no religious identification in the early 1970s, when the General Social Survey began tracking it. In 2016, according to PRRI, that group (the “Nones”) had nearly quadrupled to 26% of the U.S. population – and there are signs it will only accelerate through cohort replacement. As you can see from the infographic up top, among younger Millennials in 2016, 39% had no affiliation.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/03/08/if-mormonism-becomes-liberal-and-progressive-wont-it-decline-even-more/

TRENDS & Christian women in the U.S. are more religious than their male counterparts #PewResearch

by  , Pew Research Fact Tank, 4/6/18.

In many parts of the world, women – especially Christian women – are more religious than men. In the United States, where seven-in-ten adults are Christian, this religion gender gap is actually greater than it is a number of other developed nations, including Canada, the UK, Germany and France.

More than seven-in-ten U.S. Christian women (72%) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62% of the country’s Christian men, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Roughly eight-in-ten Christian women also say they are absolutely certain God exists and that the Bible is the word of God, compared with about seven-in-ten men who say this.

Christian men and women in the U.S. also differ in their private devotional habits. For example, roughly three-quarters (74%) of Christian women say they pray at least daily, compared with six-in-ten men (60%). The gender gap in prayer is especially wide for Catholics and mainline Protestants: 67% of Catholic women say they pray every day while just 49% of men say the same. And 62% of mainline Protestant women say they pray daily, compared with 44% of men. Among the U.S. Christian traditions analyzed in this study, Mormons are the only group in which there is no prayer gender gap, with similar shares of women and men saying they pray daily (86% and 84%, respectively).

A similar dynamic is evident when it comes to church attendance. Christian women say they attend religious services at higher rates than Christian men, but among Mormons, there is virtually no gender difference.

While Christian men are, on average, less religious than Christian women in the U.S., the survey also shows that men overall are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated (that is, identifying as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”). Indeed, more than a quarter of men are religious “nones,” compared with just 19% of women who are religiously unaffiliated.

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/06/christian-women-in-the-u-s-are-more-religious-than-their-male-counterparts/