Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where We Go To Church

It turns out that Americans do not have a one-size-fits-all approach to our preferred faith community. some like large churches; others like small. some prefer contemporary services; others prefer more traditional services. Some move to more conservative churches; others moved to more liberal churches. Here is the report from the Christian Post:

In a study of over 1,000 American adults, released Monday by Ellison Research, 69 percent of all Americans who currently attend worship services have attended more than one place of worship - which includes churches, temples, or houses of worship - as an adult. Only 31 percent say their current place of worship is the only one they have regularly attended since age 18.

When changing where they worship, not all opt for a bigger congregation or a more contemporary worship style.

When choosing size, Americans are nearly evenly divided between a larger or smaller congregation. Forty-three percent of American Protestants have moved to a larger congregation and 45 percent switched to a smaller one. Just 11 percent switched to a place that is about the same size of the place they left.

Only 31 percent of Protestants say their current church has a more contemporary worship style while 42 percent say their new church is more traditional in worship.

Sellers believes the study results challenges common perceptions that Americans are abandoning traditional worship and small churches.

“With the rise of megachurches over the past few decades, and the increase in the use of contemporary forms of worship such as rock music, drama, or the folk mass, two common concerns are that traditional forms of worship are dying out, and that small churches may become a vanishing breed. There has been a slight trend toward more contemporary worship styles among people who switch where they worship, but certainly not a wholesale move away from traditional styles," Sellers commented.

. . .

Theologically, 53 percent of adults who changed their place of worship say their current place is about the same as their old one; 28 percent moved to a place that is more theologically conservative; and 12 percent switched to one that is more liberal. Protestants were much more likely than other faith groups to have moved to a place that is theologically different from their old church (52 percent). Only 25 percent of Catholics noted a theological difference between their current and old churches.

Some Americans who went to a different place of worship changed denominations or faith groups, including 37 percent of all adults and 44 percent of Protestants.

While the study did not focus on why people moved to another place of worship, it did find that in a majority of cases, Americans switched to find someplace closer to home.



Read it all here. Be sure to also read Jim West's post about why we should be concerned about megachurches.

A side-note: we are discovering at Trinity Cathedral that more traditional services are a far bigger draw for younger worshippers than contemporary services.

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