Research from other organisations

Vast Majority of Pastors See Signs of End Times in Current Events

Lifeway Research - 11 hours 14 min ago

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before he returns to Earth, according to a new survey focused on Christian eschatology, or the study of end times.

A study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research of pastors at evangelical and historically black churches found 97% say they believe Jesus Christ will literally and personally return to Earth again.

“While Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, many pastors believe they see signs his return may be close,” said Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research. “These sentiments were expressed in January before the prospect of a global pandemic became known.”

In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked him about signs of his coming, and he responded by speaking of “birth pains” that would precede his return.

Darrell Bock, New Testament studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that the Bible has several lists of potential signs of Jesus’ return, like the Olivet Discourse passages of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, and some include concepts of global sicknesses.

“Numerous biblical texts speak of disturbances in the creation that disorient and trouble people,” said Bock. “These disturbances have quite a range with earthquakes and wars being the most common. However, Jesus mentions plagues or pestilence explicitly in Luke 21.”

According to Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, the idea of birth pains is not unique to the New Testament or evangelicals, as he said Ultra-Orthodox Jews also believe that these types of signs are indicators of the Messiah’s coming.

“The term used in rabbinic literature, ‘birth pangs of Mashiach,’ is similar to the Olivet Discourse,” Glaser said. “The pandemic is viewed in this way by many religious Jewish people who share a heightened Messianic expectation with evangelicals.”

In the study sponsored by a group of ministries led by Chosen People and conducted in early 2020, LifeWay Research asked pastors if they considered certain current events to be included in Jesus’ warnings.

At least 3 in 4 pastors agree Jesus was referring to current events including the rise of false prophets and false teachings (83%), the love of many believers growing cold (81%), traditional morals becoming less accepted (79%), wars and national conflicts (78%), earthquakes and other natural disasters (76%), and people abandoning their Christian faith (75%).

Clear majorities also see famines (70%) and anti-Semitism toward Jewish people worldwide (63%) as signs of Jesus’ return.

Around 1 in 10 pastors (11%) say they don’t consider any of these part of the birth pains to which Jesus was referring.

“For too long many pastors have shied away from teaching on birth pains and events leading up to the second coming,” said best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, “but the current pandemic demonstrates the need for solid, non-sensational preaching done in a biblical manner.”

More than half of pastors (56%) expect Jesus to return in their lifetime.

Perhaps due in part to those beliefs, 89% of evangelical and historically black church pastors say that communicating the urgency of Christ’s return is important.

While most say they expect Jesus to return while they’re still alive, as many pastors say they’re not sure (24%) as say they strongly agree (25%). Three in 10 somewhat agree (31%), while 20% disagree, including 6% who strongly disagree.

Among those more likely to disagree Jesus will return during their lifetime are pastors ages 18 to 44 (27%) and pastors of churches with 250 or more in attendance (28%).

“Whether Jesus’ return is near or far, Christians believe these disturbances represent the groaning of creation, reminders of our mortality, our need for God and the accountability we have to him for life, both now and forever,” said Bock.

Other signs

Pastors are also likely to see several events related to Israel and the Jewish people as fulfillment of biblical prophecy and signs of the end times.

Seven in 10 evangelical or black Protestant pastors (70%) say the modern rebirth of the state of Israel and the regathering of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of prophecies in the Bible.

Similar numbers (69%) say those events show Christ’s return is closer.

Around 2 in 5 pastors (39%) agree that the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a sign of the end times.

Most (62%) believe another temple will be built in Jerusalem in accordance with a prophecy in Ezekiel 40-48.

Many make end times connections to Israel and specifically Jerusalem, in part, because 73% believe that Christ will return and reign in Jerusalem in fulfillment of God’s promises to David.

More than half of pastors (57%) believe the Bible teaches that one day most or all Jewish people alive will believe in Jesus.

Close to 3 in 5 (59%) say Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus.

Nearly all pastors (98%) believe sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important.

Among those who believe Jewish evangelism is vital, they give a variety of reasons why.

More than 99% say it is important to share the gospel with all people groups. Nine in 10 pastors (89%) say because Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. More than 4 in 5 (82%) believe Jewish people are special in God’s sight. The same percentage point to God’s promise to preserve a faithful remnant of Jewish people.

Around two-thirds of pastors (67%) say sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important because Apostle Paul’s pattern was to evangelize Jewish people first. More than a quarter (28%) say Jewish evangelism will speed up the return of Christ.

“There are details of Christ’s return and his reign that scholars disagree on,” said McConnell. “However, the vast majority of pastors believe certain current events correspond with prophesies Jesus himself gave about things that would occur right before he returns.”

End times teaching

Regardless of how close they believe the return of Christ is, most pastors feel confident in teaching on the subject.

Virtually all evangelical and black Protestant pastors (94%) say they feel equipped to teach on the prophecies found in the Bible, though more than a third did not give the highest level of agreement.

Most pastors also believe it is important to study and teach on biblical prophecies and eschatology.

Around 3 in 5 say it is important to preach on end times prophecies in the book of Revelation (60%) and the Old Testament (60%), as well as spend time personally studying eschatology (57%).

A quarter of pastors (24%) speak to their congregations about end times prophecies at least once a month. Close to half (48%) say they do so several times a year.

Around 1 in 10 pastors say they talk about it with their church about once a year (11%). The same number (11%) say they do so rarely. Few say they never speak to their congregation about those prophecies (3%).

“The current global pandemic will create interest among churchgoers and nonreligious people about what the Bible says about plagues, disasters, and the end times,” said McConnell. “The urgency pastors feel is less about stockpiling toilet paper and more about helping people be ready for Christ’s return.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The phone survey of 1,000 pastors from evangelical and historically black denominations was conducted Jan. 24 to Feb. 11, 2020 and was sponsored by Chosen People Ministries, Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, Rich and Judy Hastings, and the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all evangelical and historically black churches. Quotas were used for church size.

Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

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8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age

Barna - Fri, 03/04/2020 - 4:00pm

With church and school closures due to COVID-19, adults are leaning on technology to help with in-home learning, and parents have an unprecedented opportunity to tap technology to help children engage spiritually. A new study—Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus—by Barna Group, produced in partnership with OneHope, reveals that even though tech is pervasive for kids, most parents and churches aren’t leveraging it for Bible engagement for children. 

“This is clearly seen in our findings that show a substantial dip in Bible engagement for 10–12-year-olds,” says Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope. “Right as they enter an age where they are ready for more, we’re giving them less.”

According to data in the Guiding Children study, six in 10 (58%) highly engaged Christian parents choose a church based on the children’s programming. “Regular church engagement, though important for growing a consistent faith life, doesn’t appear to have as significant an effect as regularly interacting with scripture,” says Brooke Hempell, Senior Vice President of Research at Barna.

“We feel called to reach children wherever they are,” explains Hoskins. “If they are in the digital realm, then tech is where we are going to meet them. We hope parents will commit to using whatever means necessary to develop spiritual formation and faith development tools to feed our kids from the richness of God’s word.”

Data from Guiding Children highlights several key challenges—and opportunities—for parents and ministry leaders in children’s faith formation, including the vital role of Bible engagement, the changing landscape of tech and media and the ongoing importance of church and communities in cultivating resilient faith.

This one-page infographic offers “8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask Themselves to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age,” including:

  • Am I intentionally providing connection points for the young parents I serve?
  • Have I openly developed a plan with the parents in my ministry for when and how sensitive topics should be addressed with their children.
  • How am I strategically keeping tweens engaged in my ministry so they don’t become the teenagers who lose interest?
  • Do I see myself as a partner to the parents in my ministry?

You can download this infographic to see all of the questions. To learn more about how to guide children in their faith formation whether you’re a parent or ministry leader, check out the  Guiding Children report.

Feature image by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash.

The post 8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age appeared first on Barna Group.

Most Churches Have Stopped Gathering, Few Plan to Meet on Easter

Lifeway Research - Fri, 03/04/2020 - 3:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The coronavirus outbreak has had ripple effects across the country, including in U.S. churches, according to a new study of pastors.

Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors how the pandemic has impacted their congregations and what their plans are for the near future.

While nearly all pastors say their church held in-person worship services at the beginning of March, the situation had changed radically by the end of the month.

On the weekend of March 1, 99% say they gathered, while 95% held services the next weekend. By March 15, that number dropped to 64%. And by March 22, 11% of pastors say their churches gathered in person. On March 29, only 7% of pastors say their congregations met in person.

“Gathering for worship as a local church is a fundamental expression of the body of Christ, but so are valuing life and loving others,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “As mitigation guidance first impacted large churches, the majority of churches with 200 or more attendees were not meeting by March 15, and only 1% of them met March 22 as guidance continued to shift.”

Almost half of churches (47%) say they have already decided they will not meet in person for Easter. A small number (3%) say they will have an in-person gathering no matter what.

A significant number say they are in a wait-and-see situation. Close to 1 in 5 (18%) say they will have an in-person gathering if authorities allow gatherings of that size. Another 15% say they will do so if local authorities do not recommend against it. Fewer (7%) say they will have an in-person Easter gathering if in their own judgement they feel it is safe. One in 10 say they’re not sure.

Online services and groups

As churches have moved away from in-person gatherings during the crisis, most were able to transition to some form of an online video replacement.

Fewer than 1 in 10 Protestant pastors (8%) say they did not provide any video sermons or worship services this past month. By contrast, a fall 2019 survey of Protestant pastors found 41% of pastors at that time did not provide any video content for their congregation.

Around 1 in 5 pastors (22%) say their churches were already livestreaming worship services before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and they continued doing so. More than 2 in 5 (43%) say they don’t typically livestream their sermon or worship service, but they did so in the last month because of the coronavirus. Another 27% say they didn’t livestream their service but did post a video sermon online for their congregation to view anytime.

More than half of congregations (55%) say they’ve also moved their adult groups online, while 6% say they’ve continued to meet in person. Meanwhile, 40% say their groups have not met in any capacity during the coronavirus disruption.

“The rapid adoption of providing video content has been just as abrupt as ceasing in-person meetings,” said McConnell. “Churches who never would have considered offering a streaming or video option, have quickly done so. Their pastors were compelled to stay connected and to continue to provide spiritual guidance during this trying time.”

Impact to the church

Protestant pastors say the outbreak has brought both difficulties and opportunities to their congregations.

Most say they’ve seen church attendees help each other with tangible needs (87%) or meet coronavirus-related needs within the community (59%). More than half (55%) say an attendee at their church has been able to share the gospel through this time, with 4% seeing someone make a commitment to follow Christ. Many (44%) say an attendee has counseled someone crippled with fear.

Three in 4 pastors (75%) say someone within their church has had their income impacted by reduced hours at work. Around 2 in 5 (42%) say one of their church attendees has lost their job. And 5% of pastors say they have someone at their church who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Pastors in the West (16%) and Northeast (13%) are more likely than those in the South (2%) or Midwest (1%) to say an attendee has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Pastors in the Northeast (69%) are also most likely to say someone at their church has lost their job.

As members have lost income, churches are struggling as a result. Half of pastors (52%) say giving has decreased compared to earlier this year. One in 5 (18%) say giving has continued at similar levels, while 2% say it has increased. Around a quarter of pastors (28%) aren’t sure.

Among those who say giving is down at their church, 60% say it has decreased by 25% or more, including 30% who say it has dropped by at least 50%.

This may be due in part to many churches’ hesitancy to adopt online giving. A 2017 LifeWay Research survey found 30% of churches used a website to facilitate online giving, while more than half of Americans said they paid bills online.

“Churchgoers can still mail in a check,” said McConnell, “but this crisis has driven churches to technology. Many are now adding online giving capabilities when they’ve been reluctant to do so in the past.”

Pastoral pressure points

When asked for areas in which they are under the most pressure or ways in which they could use some support, more Protestant pastors say staying connected with their congregation is a concern (30%).

Pastors also say they worry about finances (26%), the technological challenges of the current situation (16%), offering pastoral care from a distance (12%) and members without access to technology to help keep them connected (11%).

Other concerns pastors say are weighing on them include figuring out how to be strategic (9%), the pressure around deciding not to meet (7%), the well-being of their members (7%), needing prayer (6%), being personally exhausted or stressed (6%), the time-consuming nature of the changes (6%), meeting tangible needs while socially distanced (5%), helping with the fears and hurts of others (5%), how to counsel from a distance (5%) and helping to find gospel opportunities (5%).

Few pastors (6%) say they are doing well and don’t have any current pressure points.

“Social distancing is not normal. Humans are relational by nature, and churches are a community of Christ followers,” said McConnell. “The lack of presence pains many pastors and their congregations, but they are utilizing technology like never before to stay connected until they can meet again.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The online survey of 400 Protestant pastors was conducted March 30-31, 2020. Invitations were emailed to the LifeWay Research Pastor Panel followed by two reminders. The probability sample of Protestant churches was created by phone recruiting by LifeWay Research using random samples selected from all Protestant churches. Pastors who agree to be contacted by email for future surveys make up this LifeWay Research Pastor Panel.

Each survey was completed by the senior or sole pastor or a minister at the church. Responses were weighted by church attendance, region, ethnicity of pastor and whether the pastor self-identified as evangelical or mainline to more accurately reflect the population. The final sample is 400 usable surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 5.5%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

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Livestreaming Services Hasn’t Been an Option for Many Churches

Lifeway Research - Tue, 17/03/2020 - 3:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for groups during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak recommended no gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks. As churches scramble to make decisions on how to move forward, new research finds many congregations are not prepared to shift their services online.

A study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research conducted last fall found 41% of pastors say they don’t put any portion of their church service online for people to view.

Around half (52%) say they post the sermon online after the service is over, while 22% say they livestream the entire service and 10% say they livestream only the sermon.

“As new technologies have emerged, churches have placed their primary weekly worship service online in much the same way they did with radio and television,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“However, instead of only a few churches in each city broadcasting their service, online and streaming are economical enough for churches of all types to take advantage of the medium.”

In a related survey conducted last year, half of Protestant churchgoers (50%) say they watched a livestream in place of in-person church attendance at least once in the past year.

Of those who watched a livestream of their church service instead of attending in person, 2 in 5 (40%) say they did so once or twice. Around 1 in 3 (32%) say they did three to five times. Fewer did so six to 11 times (13%), 12 to 17 times (6%), or 18 times or more (9%).

Slightly less than half of all Protestant churchgoers (47%) say they haven’t watched a church service through a livestream as a replacement for in-person attendance in the past year. Two percent are not sure how many times, if any, they used livestreaming as a replacement.

Those who are part of smaller congregations are more likely to say they haven’t livestreamed a church service. Those who attend a church of fewer than 50 people (57%), 50 to 99 attendees (45%), and 100 to 249 attendees (53%) are more likely to say they didn’t stream any church services last year than those who attend a church of 500 or more (31%).

This may be explained in part by smaller churches being less likely to place any of their services online. Pastors of Protestant churches with fewer than 50 people (69%) and those with 50 to 99 (48%) are more likely than pastors of churches with 100 to 249 (28%) and those with 250 or more (10%) to say they don’t regularly put any of their worship service online.

“If they need to, almost a third of churches can gather virtually this week using technology and processes they already have in place,” said McConnell.

“Half of churchgoers have recent experience livestreaming a church service. And churches impacted first by CDC’s COVID-19 mitigation guidelines—those with attendance above 250—are most prepared to provide their service online.”

Male churchgoers (55%) are more likely than female churchgoers (41%) to say they haven’t streamed a church service instead of attending in person in the past year.

Younger churchgoers, 18- to 34-year-olds (33%) and 35- to 49-year-olds (39%), are less likely to say they haven’t watched a livestream of a church service in the past year than older churchgoers, 55- to 64-year-olds (54%) and those 65 and older (62%).

A valid replacement?

Both Protestant pastors and churchgoers see some reasons for streaming a worship service as more valid than others.

A majority of pastors say viewing a live online video stream of a local church’s worship service is a valid replacement for physically attending church when sick or caring for someone who is sick (83%), a non-attendee wants to know more about the church or its teaching (77%), and when traveling (63%).

Fewer pastors believe replacing physical attendance with online streaming is valid whenever someone wants (38%).

Among churchgoers, majorities see watching online as a valid replacement when someone is sick or caring for another (76%) and when traveling (60%).

Fewer believe livestreaming services is an acceptable alternative when you live too far away to attend (45%) or get up late (36%).

Churchgoers are less likely than their pastors to believe livestreaming a service is a valid replacement when a non-attendee wants to know more about the church or its teaching (32%) or simply whenever someone wants to watch online instead of physically attending church services (27%).

There may be confusion among churchgoers about when streaming is acceptable or not because even at churches where streaming is an available option, many pastors have never told their congregation what they think about it.

Slightly more than half (55%) of Protestant pastors who regularly livestream at least part of their service say they have communicated their views on livestreamed services to their church, while 45% say they haven’t.

“Current health concerns give churchgoers another reason to take advantage of remote attendance,” said McConnell. “The long-term question is whether churches can convince viewers there is more to church than just video content on a screen.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 30 – Sept. 24, 2019. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

The online survey of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers was conducted September 20-27, 2019 using a national pre-recruited panel. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant or non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,002 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.2%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

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Download the research (churchgoers)

Let’s Talk Technology: Barna Resources that Explore Findings from the Digital Age

Barna Blog - Thu, 12/03/2020 - 6:00pm

In a recent study for State of the Church 2020, a year-long project exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing the Church, Barna examined how digital developments and devices are affecting the Church and the faith formation of practicing Christians. It’s no secret that technology touches almost every aspect of our lives, playing a role in everything from digitizing our calendars to allowing us to browse and apply for a home loan. The years’ worth of Barna resources listed below offer more insight into how U.S. practicing Christians perceive the presence and impact of technology in their lives.

1. OneHope President Rob Hoskins on Technology as a Tremendous Tool

Rob Hoskins, president of OneHope, comments on some of the findings from a recent study conducted jointly with Barna Group about the role of technology in children’s faith formation. Hoskins says, “This study revealed that even though tech is pervasive, most parents and churches aren’t leveraging it for Bible engagement. This is clearly seen in our findings that show a substantial dip in Bible engagement for 10–12-year-olds. Right as they enter an age where they are ready for more, we’re giving them less.”

2. U.S. Adults Believe Hate Speech Has Increased—Mainly Online

A large majority of American adults says the amount of hate crime and hate speech (meaning, speech or crimes that are motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudice) has changed in the past five years; seven in 10 (70%) say this behavior has increased. Most attribute the change to the fact that politicians are encouraging or feeding this trend (65%). Similar majorities say social media and the internet have amplified it (62%) or that it is driven by America becoming increasingly more divided as a country (61%). More than half say the internet has provided a forum for hate groups to multiply (57%), that hate crime has increased because the news has drawn attention to it (54%) or even that it has become more socially acceptable to publicly treat others with prejudice (51%). Four in 10 believe increased diversity in America has caused fear or prejudice (37%). Only a few respondents say religious organizations amplify hatred (16%).

3. Forming Family Values in a Digital Age

In his book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper PlaceAndy Crouch explores the important role of the family not only in helping young people to navigate the demands of current technology, but also in shaping their character for the long-term. Drawing from the research Barna conducted for Andy’s book, the infographics in this article explore some of the key questions around the role of family in personal values and identity formation in a tech-heavy world where parents believe it’s harder than ever to raise children.

4. 6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home

This sneak peek of The Tech-Wise Family looks at some of the top revelations about how parents and kids relate to their devices and to each other in age when parents believe its harder than ever to raise children. Check out this article to learn more about monitoring technology, where life truly happens in the home, limiting device usage, how tech is disrupting the dinner table, and more.

5. The Trends Redefining Romance Today

The explosive growth of smartphones and digital technology has increasingly brought dating into the world of technology. Overall, almost three in 10 American adults (28%) have either tried online dating once or twice (14%), use it regularly (5%), or have used it previously, but not anymore (9%). But almost three-quarters (72%) haven’t tried it at all, and more than half (52%) would never do so. That said, of those who have never tried it, 16 percent are still open to it. Gen X (7%) and Millennials (6%) are the most regular users of online dating, and Gen X are also more likely to have tried it (37%) than any other age group. And interestingly, Millennials, those who have come of age in a digital generation, are not much more likely to be users than Boomers (27% vs 24%).

6. Evangelism in a Digital Age: An Infographic

With the ubiquitous use of social media and mobile devices, the way we communicate has evolved—and, inevitably, so has the way we talk about faith. In Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, Barna asked American adults about how they discuss spirituality online. Through posts, comments and profiles, many Christians believe that technology and digital interactions have made evangelism easier: We found that three in 10 (28%) share their faith via social media, and almost six in 10 (58%) non-Christians say someone has shared their faith with them through Facebook. Still, spiritual conversations are fraught in a digital age, and younger generations are among the most cautious about engaging.

7. Guiding Children

Raising children to know, love and follow Jesus has always been a challenge—even before child-sized tablets, video games and YouTube were in the picture! Today, there are more demands on kids’ and parents’ time, children are exposed to sensitive topics much sooner, and parents are forced to find new ways to pass down biblical thinking in a world that often opposes Christian values. This new report, produced in partnership with OneHope, helps ministry leaders and parents band together to help guide children’s faith formation.

8. The Connected Generation

The largest study Barna has ever done, The Connected Generation, features 15,000 respondents in 25 countries and 9 languages, facilitated through a partnership with World Vision. This study of young adults 18–35-years-old shows that they are highly connected to events and people around the world, likely because of technology, but don’t always feel supported in their own relationships. Learn how to develop healthy partnerships across generations and to bring needed change to your church, organization or business.

9. Faith for Exiles

It’s easy to become discouraged by all that’s going wrong when it comes to Christianity and the emerging generation. Yet what’s going right? In fact, signs of hope are springing up all around. Barna President David Kinnaman and former executive director of Youth Specialties Mark Matlock team up to uncover five practices that contribute to resilience in this new age, “Digital Babylon.” Enter the world of resilient young adult Christians, learn how they are sustaining faith, and find hope in all that God is doing among young disciples today.

10. A New Generation of Digital Natives, Gen Z

As Christian leaders, pastors, educators and parents, we want what’s best for our kids. We want to see them grow up and follow Jesus for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many Christian teenagers are simply unprepared for the world that is waiting for them. We all know students who have drifted, become disillusioned or just walked away from the faith. It has been said that “Teenagers are the most misunderstood people on planet earth. They are treated like children but asked to behave like adults.” Discover how this generation interacts with church—why they’re leaving and how you can bring them back.

11. Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age

Evangelism has changed in the past quarter century. The ways Christians share, how often they engage in spiritual conversations and their goals for sharing faith are different. And in a culture where relativism is the norm and fewer believe in absolute truth, the attitudes and responses of those who hear the gospel have also evolved.

12. The Porn Phenomenon

Pornography is pervasive, permeating our culture from shop windows to web ads, premium cable shows to smartphone apps. Where once it was kept literally under wraps, used furtively in secret and shame, porn is now a standard feature of everyday life, seen by most teens and young adults as less morally offensive than failing to recycle. The Porn Phenomenon is an assessment of the cultural place of pornography today, based on a survey of existing social science research and nearly 3,000 new interviews with U.S. teens, adults and Protestant church leaders.

 

Feature image by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash.

The post Let’s Talk Technology: Barna Resources that Explore Findings from the Digital Age appeared first on Barna Group.

Let’s Talk Technology: Barna Resources that Explore Findings from the Digital Age

Barna - Thu, 12/03/2020 - 6:00pm

In a recent study for State of the Church 2020, a year-long project exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing the Church, Barna examined how digital developments and devices are affecting the Church and the faith formation of practicing Christians. It’s no secret that technology touches almost every aspect of our lives, playing a role in everything from digitizing our calendars to allowing us to browse and apply for a home loan. The years’ worth of Barna resources listed below offer more insight into how U.S. practicing Christians perceive the presence and impact of technology in their lives.

1. OneHope President Rob Hoskins on Technology as a Tremendous Tool

Rob Hoskins, president of OneHope, comments on some of the findings from a recent study conducted jointly with Barna Group about the role of technology in children’s faith formation. Hoskins says, “This study revealed that even though tech is pervasive, most parents and churches aren’t leveraging it for Bible engagement. This is clearly seen in our findings that show a substantial dip in Bible engagement for 10–12-year-olds. Right as they enter an age where they are ready for more, we’re giving them less.”

2. U.S. Adults Believe Hate Speech Has Increased—Mainly Online

A large majority of American adults says the amount of hate crime and hate speech (meaning, speech or crimes that are motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudice) has changed in the past five years; seven in 10 (70%) say this behavior has increased. Most attribute the change to the fact that politicians are encouraging or feeding this trend (65%). Similar majorities say social media and the internet have amplified it (62%) or that it is driven by America becoming increasingly more divided as a country (61%). More than half say the internet has provided a forum for hate groups to multiply (57%), that hate crime has increased because the news has drawn attention to it (54%) or even that it has become more socially acceptable to publicly treat others with prejudice (51%). Four in 10 believe increased diversity in America has caused fear or prejudice (37%). Only a few respondents say religious organizations amplify hatred (16%).

3. Forming Family Values in a Digital Age

In his book, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper PlaceAndy Crouch explores the important role of the family not only in helping young people to navigate the demands of current technology, but also in shaping their character for the long-term. Drawing from the research Barna conducted for Andy’s book, the infographics in this article explore some of the key questions around the role of family in personal values and identity formation in a tech-heavy world where parents believe it’s harder than ever to raise children.

4. 6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home

This sneak peek of The Tech-Wise Family looks at some of the top revelations about how parents and kids relate to their devices and to each other in age when parents believe its harder than ever to raise children. Check out this article to learn more about monitoring technology, where life truly happens in the home, limiting device usage, how tech is disrupting the dinner table, and more.

5. The Trends Redefining Romance Today

The explosive growth of smartphones and digital technology has increasingly brought dating into the world of technology. Overall, almost three in 10 American adults (28%) have either tried online dating once or twice (14%), use it regularly (5%), or have used it previously, but not anymore (9%). But almost three-quarters (72%) haven’t tried it at all, and more than half (52%) would never do so. That said, of those who have never tried it, 16 percent are still open to it. Gen X (7%) and Millennials (6%) are the most regular users of online dating, and Gen X are also more likely to have tried it (37%) than any other age group. And interestingly, Millennials, those who have come of age in a digital generation, are not much more likely to be users than Boomers (27% vs 24%).

6. Evangelism in a Digital Age: An Infographic

With the ubiquitous use of social media and mobile devices, the way we communicate has evolved—and, inevitably, so has the way we talk about faith. In Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, Barna asked American adults about how they discuss spirituality online. Through posts, comments and profiles, many Christians believe that technology and digital interactions have made evangelism easier: We found that three in 10 (28%) share their faith via social media, and almost six in 10 (58%) non-Christians say someone has shared their faith with them through Facebook. Still, spiritual conversations are fraught in a digital age, and younger generations are among the most cautious about engaging.

7. Guiding Children

Raising children to know, love and follow Jesus has always been a challenge—even before child-sized tablets, video games and YouTube were in the picture! Today, there are more demands on kids’ and parents’ time, children are exposed to sensitive topics much sooner, and parents are forced to find new ways to pass down biblical thinking in a world that often opposes Christian values. This new report, produced in partnership with OneHope, helps ministry leaders and parents band together to help guide children’s faith formation.

8. The Connected Generation

The largest study Barna has ever done, The Connected Generation, features 15,000 respondents in 25 countries and 9 languages, facilitated through a partnership with World Vision. This study of young adults 18–35-years-old shows that they are highly connected to events and people around the world, likely because of technology, but don’t always feel supported in their own relationships. Learn how to develop healthy partnerships across generations and to bring needed change to your church, organization or business.

9. Faith for Exiles

It’s easy to become discouraged by all that’s going wrong when it comes to Christianity and the emerging generation. Yet what’s going right? In fact, signs of hope are springing up all around. Barna President David Kinnaman and former executive director of Youth Specialties Mark Matlock team up to uncover five practices that contribute to resilience in this new age, “Digital Babylon.” Enter the world of resilient young adult Christians, learn how they are sustaining faith, and find hope in all that God is doing among young disciples today.

10. A New Generation of Digital Natives, Gen Z

As Christian leaders, pastors, educators and parents, we want what’s best for our kids. We want to see them grow up and follow Jesus for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many Christian teenagers are simply unprepared for the world that is waiting for them. We all know students who have drifted, become disillusioned or just walked away from the faith. It has been said that “Teenagers are the most misunderstood people on planet earth. They are treated like children but asked to behave like adults.” Discover how this generation interacts with church—why they’re leaving and how you can bring them back.

11. Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age

Evangelism has changed in the past quarter century. The ways Christians share, how often they engage in spiritual conversations and their goals for sharing faith are different. And in a culture where relativism is the norm and fewer believe in absolute truth, the attitudes and responses of those who hear the gospel have also evolved.

12. The Porn Phenomenon

Pornography is pervasive, permeating our culture from shop windows to web ads, premium cable shows to smartphone apps. Where once it was kept literally under wraps, used furtively in secret and shame, porn is now a standard feature of everyday life, seen by most teens and young adults as less morally offensive than failing to recycle. The Porn Phenomenon is an assessment of the cultural place of pornography today, based on a survey of existing social science research and nearly 3,000 new interviews with U.S. teens, adults and Protestant church leaders.

 

Feature image by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash.

The post Let’s Talk Technology: Barna Resources that Explore Findings from the Digital Age appeared first on Barna Group.

Churches Believe They Are Welcoming to Those With Disabilities

Lifeway Research - Wed, 11/03/2020 - 3:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Virtually every Protestant pastor and churchgoer believes a person with a disability would feel at home at their church, but fewer are taking active steps to make sure this is the case.

A new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors and churchgoers about their church and those with disabilities.

Nearly every pastor (99%) and churchgoer (97%) says someone with a disability would feel welcomed and included at their church.

As a mother of a son with cerebral palsy, Jamie Sumner says every church has the possibility to be welcoming to those with disabilities, but it takes intentional actions to convince families impacted by special needs that a church wants to accommodate them.

“Until you have a plan in place that accommodates those with special needs all the way from nursery-age to senior citizen, then you can’t accurately make this claim,” said Sumner, the author of Eat, Sleep, Save the World, an upcoming B&H Publishing book for parents of children with special needs.

When her son was born, Sumner said her church built a program for him when one didn’t exist. “They hired a team, did research, brought in volunteers and changed the layout of their Easter egg hunts and all of our other get-togethers in order to accommodate those with extra needs,” she said.

In the past seven years, Sumner’s church has built a ministry from the ground up, which she said is the best-case scenario. “They asked us what we needed and started slowly. Now we serve many families with children with special needs,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it has changed our lives.”

Pastors seem to agree churches should make adjustments for those with special needs.

Almost all pastors (99%) say local churches should make necessary facility modifications to become more accessible to people with physical disabilities even when it is not required by law.

Three-quarters of Protestant pastors (76%) say local churches have a responsibility to provide financial resources and support to individuals with disabilities and their families.

“Jesus’s parable of a shepherd leaving the 99 to pursue one lost sheep demonstrates the priority churches must place on providing access to everyone,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“It may inconvenience the current flock by moving a teaching location or changing activities, but pastors and churchgoers say they see the need to do so. They believe creating access for everyone to hear the gospel and participate in the body of Christ matters.”

What churches are doing

Almost every pastor (95%) says their church is involved in at least one of five different ways to care for those with disabilities and their families.

Three in 4 pastors (75%) say their church encourages volunteering in community events, like the Special Olympics, for people with disabilities.

Most say they provide financially for families with ongoing needs (70%) or provide respite for family caregivers to give them a break (60%).

Half of churches (50%) provide an additional teacher to aid a person with special needs in a class.

Fewer pastors (29%) say their church provides classes or events specifically for people with disabilities.

Larger churches are more likely than others to say they help in many of these specific ways. That gap is particularly pronounced when examining which churches provide an additional teacher for the individual with special needs.

While three quarters (75%) of churches with worship attendance topping 250 say they provide such assistants, 54% of churches with 100 to 249, 46% of churches with 50 to 99, and 35% of churches with less than 50 say they do the same.

“Many churches likely won’t have the resources to provide classes or events specifically designed for only those with disabilities, but they will still have opportunities to help those individuals participate in the life of their church,” said McConnell.

What churches need to do

While some churches may believe it is a matter of attitude or politeness, that isn’t what matters most to those with disabilities and their families.

Sumner says the churches that have been less welcoming to her family haven’t necessarily been less friendly than others, but those churches simply didn’t consider the needs of her son or their family. “You have to make an extra effort,” she said. “If that isn’t done, we don’t go back.”

For Sumner this is a vital issue because “everyone deserves a church home. Jesus asks us to care for those in need, not only those in poverty, but those in need of fellowship, friends and support,” she said.

“We must show those who walk through the world differently from us that we have thought about them and have made room for them. It’s not their job to pave the way. It’s our job to make the way easier for them first.”

Churches seeking to provide a welcoming place for people with disabilities should begin by finding out from those with experience how they can improve.

“Consider all the areas that must be met—spiritual, physical, social and emotional—and then ask special needs coordinators at other churches how they meet those needs at every age level,” she said. “Bring in experts and be willing to listen to their feedback.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 24, 2019. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size.

Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

The online survey of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers was conducted Sept. 20-27, 2019 using a national pre-recruited panel.

Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant/non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,002 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.2%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Download the research (Pastors)
Download the research (Churchgoers)

Guest Column: Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance Among Women

Barna - Wed, 04/03/2020 - 6:00pm

A reading that I always put on the syllabus of my Senior Capstone course is by one of the world’s preeminent scholars of international law, Anne-Marie Slaughter. However, the topic of her essay isn’t related to political science, but instead something more practical: the idea of work-life balance. She titled this seminal work “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” a 2012 article that details how, though she felt it was her civic duty to serve her country in the State Department during President Obama’s first term in office, she struggled with the reality that she would be putting a lot of the childcare responsibilities on her spouse.

This is a struggle most young people, especially young women, confront today. While societal norms about parenting and professional responsibilities are glacially shifting toward more equality, raising kids is still seen by many to be “women’s work.” This puts many women in an untenable situation; data indicate that as women have become more involved in the workplace, their responsibilities at both home and church have not abated. The reality is that society is asking women to do it all, but each day still has the same 24 hours.

According to Barna’s research among practicing Christians in the Households of Faith report, mothers are more likely to provide encouragement, advice and sympathy to their teenagers than fathers. Teenagers are also more likely to seek out their mothers more often than their fathers to discuss faith, the Bible and things that bother them. On a variety of dimensions of activity, these Christian women appear to be more present in the lives of their children than men.

Beyond the household, how are women present as part of a church family? I wanted to get a clear picture of the gender breakdown of people in the pews on an average Sunday in the United States. The data from the last 16 years tells an interesting story. Women were consistently more likely than men to attend church weekly in the 2000’s. However, two important trends have emerged since 2012. The first is that attendance has declined significantly for both men and women. However, the rate of decline for female respondents is much more dramatic.

In 2009, 48 percent of women attended church at least once a week, but, in less than a decade, the share has dropped to 31 percent. During the same period of time the share of men who attended church at least weekly declined 12 percentage points. While there used to be a gender gap in attendance, that is clearly no longer than case.

But that may be coming to an end. It’s no secret that the rate of the religiously unaffiliated has risen significantly in the last 30 years, and church attendance has declined as well. However, this trend is not consistent across gender or age groups. To test that, I calculated the average church attendance of both men and women 18–35-years-old as well as those over the age of 35. The results are disheartening.

It’s clear that the average level of church attendance is down for all groups, but the rate of decline is much steeper for women, particularly those in the older age group. In 2003, half of women 35 and older attended church once a week; by 2019, that declined to just three in 10. While attendance has also declined among older men, the decline is far less significant. For women younger than 35, they have always been more likely to be weekly attenders, but the rate of decline is similar. In 2019, 26 percent of women under the age of 35 were actively churched, which is five percentage points lower than their older female counterparts.

Men used to lag behind women in both age groups. The gap between the two genders hovered around 8 percentage points in 2003 for younger women and 11 percentage points for older women. Something notable occurred among both age groups in recent years—the gender gap essentially disappeared. In fact, the data indicate that women are no more likely to be actively churched in 2020 than men. That’s largely due to men’s rate of decline slowing, while the women’s trend line continues to move downward at a consistent pace. This is clearly a worrisome finding.

Why is this happening? It’s nearly impossible to point to one causal mechanism. As previously noted, many women are being asked to do more at work, more with their family and more with the community. For many, this has become overwhelming, and church can often seem like the easiest commitment to walk away from. It could also be that women are beginning to vote with their feet in the wake of sexual abuse scandals that are rocking the Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church, or as a reaction to many churches’ positions on female leadership.

In a study conducted by Barna about Christians at Work, the data indicate that women are less likely than men to believe that they are using their unique talents and gifts to serve outside the workplace (24% vs 31%). That should sound an alarm bell for ministry leaders.

Here are a few possible suggestions for churches to consider.

Churches need to be intentional about speaking holistically to the value of women’s calling. It would be encouraging for women to hear messages that focused on followers of Christ living out their purpose—in the home, the workplace and the church.

Every church, regardless of theological positions on gender roles, can find more ways to include women in the life of the congregation. Nominating or events committees should be encouraged to make sure that their gender distribution reflects that of the larger congregation.

However, churches need to be mindful that women are already juggling a lot of responsibilities in their home and work lives. Therefore, church leaders need to think carefully about what opportunities they create for women in their congregation. Ideal volunteer opportunities would be those that tap into their unique spiritual gifts, without making one feel overburdened. This will enhance the life of the church as well as give women a sense of personal fulfillment.

Learn more about the methodology for these studies here

Dr. Ryan Burge is an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He has published over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals as well co-founded the website Religion in Public, which is a platform for social scientists to make their work accessible to a wider audience. He is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Feature image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The post Guest Column: Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance Among Women appeared first on Barna Group.

Guest Column: Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance Among Women

Barna Blog - Wed, 04/03/2020 - 5:59pm

A reading that I always put on the syllabus of my Senior Capstone course is by one of the world’s preeminent scholars of international law, Anne-Marie Slaughter. However, the topic of her essay isn’t related to political science, but instead something more practical: the idea of work-life balance. She titled this seminal work “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” a 2012 article that details how, though she felt it was her civic duty to serve her country in the State Department during President Obama’s first term in office, she struggled with the reality that she would be putting a lot of the childcare responsibilities on her spouse.

This is a struggle most young people, especially young women, confront today. While societal norms about parenting and professional responsibilities are glacially shifting toward more equality, raising kids is still seen by many to be “women’s work.” This puts many women in an untenable situation; data indicate that as women have become more involved in the workplace, their responsibilities at both home and church have not abated. The reality is that society is asking women to do it all, but each day still has the same 24 hours.

According to Barna’s research among practicing Christians in the Households of Faith report, mothers are more likely to provide encouragement, advice and sympathy to their teenagers than fathers. Teenagers are also more likely to seek out their mothers more often than their fathers to discuss faith, the Bible and things that bother them. On a variety of dimensions of activity, these Christian women appear to be more present in the lives of their children than men.

Beyond the household, how are women present as part of a church family? I wanted to get a clear picture of the gender breakdown of people in the pews on an average Sunday in the United States. The data from the last 16 years tells an interesting story. Women were consistently more likely than men to attend church weekly in the 2000’s. However, two important trends have emerged since 2012. The first is that attendance has declined significantly for both men and women. However, the rate of decline for female respondents is much more dramatic.

In 2009, 48 percent of women attended church at least once a week, but, in less than a decade, the share has dropped to 31 percent. During the same period of time the share of men who attended church at least weekly declined 12 percentage points. While there used to be a gender gap in attendance, that is clearly no longer than case.

But that may be coming to an end. It’s no secret that the rate of the religiously unaffiliated has risen significantly in the last 30 years, and church attendance has declined as well. However, this trend is not consistent across gender or age groups. To test that, I calculated the average church attendance of both men and women 18–35-years-old as well as those over the age of 35. The results are disheartening.

It’s clear that the average level of church attendance is down for all groups, but the rate of decline is much steeper for women, particularly those in the older age group. In 2003, half of women 35 and older attended church once a week; by 2019, that declined to just three in 10. While attendance has also declined among older men, the decline is far less significant. For women younger than 35, they have always been more likely to be weekly attenders, but the rate of decline is similar. In 2019, 26 percent of women under the age of 35 were actively churched, which is five percentage points lower than their older female counterparts.

Men used to lag behind women in both age groups. The gap between the two genders hovered around 8 percentage points in 2003 for younger women and 11 percentage points for older women. Something notable occurred among both age groups in recent years—the gender gap essentially disappeared. In fact, the data indicate that women are no more likely to be actively churched in 2020 than men. That’s largely due to men’s rate of decline slowing, while the women’s trend line continues to move downward at a consistent pace. This is clearly a worrisome finding.

Why is this happening? It’s nearly impossible to point to one causal mechanism. As previously noted, many women are being asked to do more at work, more with their family and more with the community. For many, this has become overwhelming, and church can often seem like the easiest commitment to walk away from. It could also be that women are beginning to vote with their feet in the wake of sexual abuse scandals that are rocking the Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church, or as a reaction to many churches’ positions on female leadership.

In a study conducted by Barna about Christians at Work, the data indicate that women are less likely than men to believe that they are using their unique talents and gifts to serve outside the workplace (24% vs 31%). That should sound an alarm bell for ministry leaders.

Here are a few possible suggestions for churches to consider.

Churches need to be intentional about speaking holistically to the value of women’s calling. It would be encouraging for women to hear messages that focused on followers of Christ living out their purpose—in the home, the workplace and the church.

Every church, regardless of theological positions on gender roles, can find more ways to include women in the life of the congregation. Nominating or events committees should be encouraged to make sure that their gender distribution reflects that of the larger congregation.

However, churches need to be mindful that women are already juggling a lot of responsibilities in their home and work lives. Therefore, church leaders need to think carefully about what opportunities they create for women in their congregation. Ideal volunteer opportunities would be those that tap into their unique spiritual gifts, without making one feel overburdened. This will enhance the life of the church as well as give women a sense of personal fulfillment.

Learn more about the methodology for these studies here

Dr. Ryan Burge is an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He has published over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals as well co-founded the website Religion in Public, which is a platform for social scientists to make their work accessible to a wider audience. He is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

Feature image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The post Guest Column: Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance Among Women appeared first on Barna Group.

Most Protestant Churchgoers Don’t Go to Church Alone

Lifeway Research - Wed, 26/02/2020 - 4:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When traveling to church, most people have company, but a significant number say they make the trip alone.

A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found 1 in 5 Protestant churchgoers (19%) say they typically travel to church alone.

Most travel to church with their spouse (54%), while close to a third say their child or children ride with them (31%).

Fewer say they typically travel to church with another family member besides their parent or grandparent (18%) or a friend or acquaintance (11%).

A small percentage say they travel with a grandchild (4%) or someone from their church who lacks transportation (3%).

“Many weeks, it’s hard enough for attendees to get themselves to church, so it’s not surprising few are stopping to pick up a neighbor,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“The reality is, if every Christian driving or riding to church this week used the extra vehicle seats around them to bring other people, churches would likely not be able to contain the crowds.”

Men (64%) are more likely than women (46%) to say they travel to church with their spouse, which indicates wives are more likely to go to church without their husbands than vice versa.

Women (36%) are also more likely than men (24%) to say their children travel with them to church.

African American churchgoers are the least likely to say they travel to church with their spouse (31%) but are more likely than white churchgoers to say they go to church with their children (40% to 24%).

African Americans (16%) are also twice as likely as white churchgoers (8%) to say they travel to church with a friend.

Younger churchgoers (22%) are the most likely to say they typically go to church with a friend.

Protestant churchgoers 50 and older (23%) are more likely than those 18 to 34 (13%) to say they attend church alone.

Childhood church trips

For three-fourths of current Protestant churchgoers (76%), a parent typically took them to church as a child.

One in 5 (20%) say they went with a grandparent, while 1 in 10 (10%) say it was another family member.

Few churchgoers say they went alone (6%), with a family friend their age (5%), rode a church bus (5%), or went with someone they knew primarily from church (4%).

Among those regular church attenders today, 6% say they did not typically attend church as a child.

“The legacy of grandparents taking their grandkids to church has been impressive,” said McConnell. “Yet today far fewer churchgoers are taking grandkids with them—even when looking only at older attendees.”

African Americans are more likely to say they were taken to church as a child by a grandparent (32%) or another family member (20%).

Regular Protestant church attenders in the West (11%) are more likely to say they typically did not attend church as a child than those in the South (4%).

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The online survey of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers was conducted September 20-27, 2019 using a national pre-recruited panel. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant/non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month.

Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,002 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.2%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Download the research

A Barna Team Member Reflects on 25+ Years in Research

Barna Blog - Wed, 19/02/2020 - 6:00pm

Barna Group, founded by George Barna in 1984, has long aided the Church in understanding cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Though much has changed in the field of social research since its beginning over three decades ago, Barna has kept up with advances in technology and analytics, ensuring reliable data that faith leaders can use to understand the times.

A big part of Barna’s success in this field is due to our dedicated research team, now led by Brooke Hempell. In an effort to understand more about Barna’s research process and how the company’s approach to collecting data has evolved over the years, we interviewed Barna’s senior research manager, Pam Jacob, who has been with the company for 26 years. As our State of the Church project begins to look back on decades’ worth of research, Pam reflects on her experiences collecting, analyzing and being impacted by that data.

Barna: When you first started at Barna Group, what was your role versus what is it now?

Pam: I was a part-time research assistant when I first started. I worked with the research manager and, believe it or not, it was just her and I in the research department, along with, of course, George Barna.

Barna: Looking back to your early years with the company, how was research conducted? Could you give me a brief overview from start to finish?

Pam: It’s really evolved at Barna since I started. Back then, George Barna would write the questionnaires and manage the clients, then pass it onto me at which point I would program the questionnaire, then work with the field center to interview people by telephone, run the data and send it back to George for the analysis. Then it would either be shared with the client, if it was a client-commissioned study, or analyzed for a Barna-released book, article or other medium.

It was like that from the time I started until probably 2010. Before that time, nearly all of the surveys were conducted by telephone. We also did what we called self-administered surveys where we would mail out a survey to the client, who would then distribute it to their audience, whether that be their donors, employees, youth groups or other audiences. We also created community surveys, where we’d actually mail hard copies of surveys to people within a certain geographic region for them to fill out and send back to us, at which point we would key-punch them all by hand before we could proceed with the analysis.

Primarily, though, the surveys were done via telephone—we would just call people up randomly and ask them to participate in a survey. We ran an in-house field center with as many as 35 callers for any one night who would interview people. Actually, that’s where David Kinnaman started. He was an intern at the time, going to school at Biola and then driving up to Glendale every night to supervise our field center.

Barna: Over the years, social research has seen drastic changes. What has it been like to keep up with those advances, especially moving into a digital age?

Pam: The biggest change I witnessed was when we started doing cell-phone interviewing by phone, and then online interviewing. This happened when people started switching over to cell phones and were becoming less available on their landlines.

Over the years, it’s just become harder and harder to conduct phone interviews. Conducting research over the phone is more expensive and it’s not as reliable as it used to be. When we first began interviewing by telephone, not only did cell phones not exist, caller-ID didn’t exist. Today the majority of households no longer have a landline telephone, and most phones, whether a cell phone or landline, have caller-ID. Because people are likely to reject a call from a number they are unfamiliar with, you’re only getting people who answer their phones, which means you are only interviewing a specific group of the population, which is not representative of the general population as a whole.

Barna: One thing that we will keep coming back to as we continue to look at the State of the Church 2020 project is Barna’s decades of tracking data. Can you tell us more about that?

Pam: In our general population studies and PastorPollsSM, we ask the same questions about demographics, theolographics and certain attitudes in every study we conduct. Not only does this allow us to use the same criteria to segment the data during analysis, but we can also compare the data to results from other studies or to data from previous years. This allows us to see how the data has changed over the years.

That’s basically what tracking data is; it’s the same question asked multiple times in a similar manner for comparison purposes. Also, merging these same data points together gives us a larger sample size  so that we can do additional segmentation. We might use combined data for the same question to drill down in greater detail among a certain population segment in which we wouldn’t have enough data to analyze in our typical survey of 1,000 interviews. Combining datasets also allows us to decrease the overall error rate and improve the confidence we can have in the data when you’re looking at 5,000 interviews instead of just 1,000.

Barna: Share a fun fact about data.

Pam: I think some people question how we can survey a thousand people and call that representative of a population. Of course, we talk about the error rates, but if you do a study well, it is representative. In the example I gave earlier of 1,000 interviews, the error rate is plus or minus 3 percentage points. That means, if we repeated this same study, we can expect the results to be the same with 3 percentage points higher or lower than the original data.

It’s really affirming that there is validity to what we do because when we repeat it, we get the same numbers. So, that’s pretty fun and interesting.

Barna: In your time here, what has been a turning point for you as a researcher in terms of how you see the world or your faith?

Pam: Well, the faith one is easy: I wasn’t a Christian when I started here. I was going to Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) with Nancy, George’s wife, who had also invited me to her church which I attended a couple of times. Within the first month of working at Barna, I worked on one of our OmniPolls, in which we asked tracking questions like, “Do you believe the Bible is without error?” or “Do you believe that Jesus sinned?” I realized I didn’t know the answers to these questions.  There was also a section to test respondents’ Bible knowledge, and I didn’t know the answers to those either.

The director of research who I first worked under, Cindy, asked, “Do you have a Bible?” I responded that I didn’t. She said, “Well, I would be willing to get you one, and then we can meet before work and talk about some of these questions that you have.” I also started to go to church more with Nancy and then, three months later, I accepted the Lord. It was hard not to; I mean, I was surrounded by Christians doing Christian work.

Also, coming from a non-Christian upbringing, while I understand how the unchurched think, I have a passion for those who have fallen away from faith. More and more people are growing up in households like the one I grew up in, where we considered ourselves to be Christian but never attended church and never read the Bible.  It saddens me to see the number of people who consider themselves to be Christian but whose active faith is declining. It is exciting to be part of Barna and have the opportunity to inform the church of this decline and hopefully equip them with better tools to reach people for Christ.

Pam Jacob, Senior Research Manager

 

The post A Barna Team Member Reflects on 25+ Years in Research appeared first on Barna Group.

A Barna Team Member Reflects on 25+ Years in Research

Barna - Wed, 19/02/2020 - 6:00pm

Barna Group, founded by George Barna in 1984, has long aided the Church in understanding cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Though much has changed in the field of social research since its beginning over three decades ago, Barna has kept up with advances in technology and analytics, ensuring reliable data that faith leaders can use to understand the times.

A big part of Barna’s success in this field is due to our dedicated research team, now led by Brooke Hempell. In an effort to understand more about Barna’s research process and how the company’s approach to collecting data has evolved over the years, we interviewed Barna’s senior research manager, Pam Jacob, who has been with the company for 26 years. As our State of the Church project begins to look back on decades’ worth of research, Pam reflects on her experiences collecting, analyzing and being impacted by that data.

Barna: When you first started at Barna Group, what was your role versus what is it now?

Pam: I was a part-time research assistant when I first started. I worked with the research manager and, believe it or not, it was just her and I in the research department, along with, of course, George Barna.

Barna: Looking back to your early years with the company, how was research conducted? Could you give me a brief overview from start to finish?

Pam: It’s really evolved at Barna since I started. Back then, George Barna would write the questionnaires and manage the clients, then pass it onto me at which point I would program the questionnaire, then work with the field center to interview people by telephone, run the data and send it back to George for the analysis. Then it would either be shared with the client, if it was a client-commissioned study, or analyzed for a Barna-released book, article or other medium.

It was like that from the time I started until probably 2010. Before that time, nearly all of the surveys were conducted by telephone. We also did what we called self-administered surveys where we would mail out a survey to the client, who would then distribute it to their audience, whether that be their donors, employees, youth groups or other audiences. We also created community surveys, where we’d actually mail hard copies of surveys to people within a certain geographic region for them to fill out and send back to us, at which point we would key-punch them all by hand before we could proceed with the analysis.

Primarily, though, the surveys were done via telephone—we would just call people up randomly and ask them to participate in a survey. We ran an in-house field center with as many as 35 callers for any one night who would interview people. Actually, that’s where David Kinnaman started. He was an intern at the time, going to school at Biola and then driving up to Glendale every night to supervise our field center.

Barna: Over the years, social research has seen drastic changes. What has it been like to keep up with those advances, especially moving into a digital age?

Pam: The biggest change I witnessed was when we started doing cell-phone interviewing by phone, and then online interviewing. This happened when people started switching over to cell phones and were becoming less available on their landlines.

Over the years, it’s just become harder and harder to conduct phone interviews. Conducting research over the phone is more expensive and it’s not as reliable as it used to be. When we first began interviewing by telephone, not only did cell phones not exist, caller-ID didn’t exist. Today the majority of households no longer have a landline telephone, and most phones, whether a cell phone or landline, have caller-ID. Because people are likely to reject a call from a number they are unfamiliar with, you’re only getting people who answer their phones, which means you are only interviewing a specific group of the population, which is not representative of the general population as a whole.

Barna: One thing that we will keep coming back to as we continue to look at the State of the Church 2020 project is Barna’s decades of tracking data. Can you tell us more about that?

Pam: In our general population studies and PastorPollsSM, we ask the same questions about demographics, theolographics and certain attitudes in every study we conduct. Not only does this allow us to use the same criteria to segment the data during analysis, but we can also compare the data to results from other studies or to data from previous years. This allows us to see how the data has changed over the years.

That’s basically what tracking data is; it’s the same question asked multiple times in a similar manner for comparison purposes. Also, merging these same data points together gives us a larger sample size  so that we can do additional segmentation. We might use combined data for the same question to drill down in greater detail among a certain population segment in which we wouldn’t have enough data to analyze in our typical survey of 1,000 interviews. Combining datasets also allows us to decrease the overall error rate and improve the confidence we can have in the data when you’re looking at 5,000 interviews instead of just 1,000.

Barna: Share a fun fact about data.

Pam: I think some people question how we can survey a thousand people and call that representative of a population. Of course, we talk about the error rates, but if you do a study well, it is representative. In the example I gave earlier of 1,000 interviews, the error rate is plus or minus 3 percentage points. That means, if we repeated this same study, we can expect the results to be the same with 3 percentage points higher or lower than the original data.

It’s really affirming that there is validity to what we do because when we repeat it, we get the same numbers. So, that’s pretty fun and interesting.

Barna: In your time here, what has been a turning point for you as a researcher in terms of how you see the world or your faith?

Pam: Well, the faith one is easy: I wasn’t a Christian when I started here. I was going to Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) with Nancy, George’s wife, who had also invited me to her church which I attended a couple of times. Within the first month of working at Barna, I worked on one of our OmniPolls, in which we asked tracking questions like, “Do you believe the Bible is without error?” or “Do you believe that Jesus sinned?” I realized I didn’t know the answers to these questions.  There was also a section to test respondents’ Bible knowledge, and I didn’t know the answers to those either.

The director of research who I first worked under, Cindy, asked, “Do you have a Bible?” I responded that I didn’t. She said, “Well, I would be willing to get you one, and then we can meet before work and talk about some of these questions that you have.” I also started to go to church more with Nancy and then, three months later, I accepted the Lord. It was hard not to; I mean, I was surrounded by Christians doing Christian work.

Also, coming from a non-Christian upbringing, while I understand how the unchurched think, I have a passion for those who have fallen away from faith. More and more people are growing up in households like the one I grew up in, where we considered ourselves to be Christian but never attended church and never read the Bible.  It saddens me to see the number of people who consider themselves to be Christian but whose active faith is declining. It is exciting to be part of Barna and have the opportunity to inform the church of this decline and hopefully equip them with better tools to reach people for Christ.

Pam Jacob, Senior Research Manager

 

The post A Barna Team Member Reflects on 25+ Years in Research appeared first on Barna Group.

Kickstart your year with data

McCrindle - Thu, 13/02/2020 - 2:57pm

The post Kickstart your year with data appeared first on McCrindle.

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