In a quest to increase, or at least retain, the size of their congregations, churches are implementing new ways to make services more engaging to its members. Some churches have changed their music, some have tapped on social media, while others used different preachers to perform thought-provoking sermons. But, a new study reveals what makes churchgoers stay in their church.
According to the study of LifeWay Research, theology makes Christians remain at their church.
Mess with the music and people may grumble. Mess with theology and they’re out the door. —Scott McConnell, executive director, LifeWay Research
The study surveyed 1,010 Protestant churchgoers who said they are committed to staying at their church, but would consider leaving if the church’s core beliefs changed.
“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”
Among the respondents, 35% have been members of their church between 10 and 24 years, 27% claimed attending their church for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent reported being members of their church for less than five years, and 17% have been at the same church for five to nine years.
“Most church members have been at their church longer than their pastor,” said McConnell.
The study notes that a person who goes to church on a regular basis is more likely to stay at the same church in the long haul. Members who attend church services at least once a week are twice as likely to remain than those who only go twice a month.
Age also affects a person’s decision to stick around their church. Older churchgoers, 65 and older, said they are committed to staying at their church. Ninety-two percent of them would not consider going to another church.
A 2017 study showed that Christian groups in the U.S. are aging. The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published a survey which found that “America’s youngest religious groups are all non-Christian.”
The report surveyed 101,000 Americans across the country. Researchers said more than half of the participants are at least 50 years old. Among the respondent,s 11% of the Catholics, 11% of evangelical Protestants, and 14% mainline Protestants are Americans under 30.
In conclusion, LifeWay Research suggests that in order to keep the members in a congregation, a church must stick to its doctrine.