Many churches spend a large amount of time and energy on making their services appealing to their congregations and potential churchgoers. According to a new study, however, a perfectly in tune praise band or a preacher who uses engaging sermon illustrations are not the primary things that keep people coming back.
What the LifeWay Research study found was that churchgoers stay with a church ultimately based on the church’s theology.
More than half of the 1,010 Protestant churchgoers who were surveyed said they would consider leaving their church if the church’s core beliefs changed.
Despite the tensions that issues like worship music, style of preaching, and the structure of the service can create, the biggest factor in a churchgoer’s decision to leave a church was not one of these issues.
The survey also found that the majority of churchgoers stay at their church for an extended amount of time, despite laments about church-hopping in today’s culture.
Thirty-five percent reported being at their church between 10 and 24 years, 27 percent reported attending their church for 25 years or more, 21 percent reported attending their church less than five years, while 17 percent said they have been at their church between five and nine years.
But it is the issue of theology that is perhaps most likely to cause a churchgoer to consider leaving his or her church.
Fifty-four percent said they would seriously consider leaving if their church changed its theology and doctrinal stance on certain issues.
(Neffinger, “Survey: Theology Plays Central Role in Decision to Leave a Church,” ChristianHeadlines Online, 7/6/18).