60% of us church-goers like to text

A new survey from Pew says that some 40% of Americans are active in a church, religious, or spiritual organization. Compared with those who are not involved with such organizations, religiously active Americans are more trusting of others, are more optimistic about their impact on their community, think more highly of their community, are more involved in more organizations of all kinds, and devote more time to the groups to which they are active.

When it comes to their technology profile, Americans who are members of religious groups are just as likely as others to use the internet, have broadband at home, use cell phones, use text messaging, and use social networking sites and Twitter.

Here’s a breakdown of more of the findings:

— 9 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use Twitter, the same percentage as the general population.

— 46 percent of those in religious groups use social networking sites — almost identical to the 47 percent of all adults.

— 60 percent of both groups use text messaging.

— 79 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use the Internet while 76 percent of all adults do so.

— 9 percent of weekly churchgoers use Twitter (15 percent of monthly churchgoers and 14 percent of less frequent churchgoers do so). 

— 26 percent of weekly churchgoers make donations online (35 percent of monthly churchgoers; 27 percent of less frequent churchgoers).

— 70 percent of weekly churchgoers who have a cell phone send or receive text messages (80 percent of monthly churchgoers; 77 percent of less frequent churchgoers).

— 36 percent of weekly churchgoers use their cell phone to access the Internet (51 percent of monthly churchgoers; 45 percent of less frequent churchgoers). 

via Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Baptist Press


  • Adam McLane December 27, 2011 Reply

    I’m curious how they define that 40% as actively involved. There is no way that many people are attending weekly. That must be 1 or more service of any kind annually, including weddings/funerals.

    • steve miller December 28, 2011 Reply

      When polled it is pretty consistent that 40% of folks say they go to church. There was a study where researchers actually counted those who physically attended church, it differed from denomination to denomination but it averaged out to about 20% of Americans do. This same test group of people when asked responded in the affirmative at 40%. When given a blank schedule and asked where they were and what they did, again the figure was closer to 20% recorded actually being in church.

      This is pretty much how when asked to respond people tend to respond when asked about positive and negative activities. The exaggerate what they believe are good traits and downplay the negative.

      So even if 20% of America goes to church you then have to ask how many are actually Christians? There is no poll for that figure, but it is probably a safe bet it is less than every butt in the seat.

      What does this all mean? There is a lot of work to be done in America to get the Church healthy. I’m not content to tell Jesus I live in a nation with a mere 20% involved in church life on a weekly basis.

      For more accurate figures:
      Phillip Brenner did one of the studies and Mike Chaves did a similar one, I think if you googled them you could find some articles about the studies.

      There was also an article in American Sociological Review called“The Case of the Phantom Episcopalians,” which reported an accurate figure being closer to 20%

      • adam mclane December 28, 2011 Reply

        I think that if you would do research in your zip code, asking churches about their attendance, and dividing that number by the number the census bureau says live in that zip code… I’ve pretty consistently seen that at less than 10%.

        Even in understanding that most churches will round up when I talk to their secretaries/pastors. The number in most communities is about 4%. I don’t know where you live… but doing this in my zip code took about 2 hours. It’s totally eye opening and I encourage you to give it a try.

        This leads me to see the failure in church leadership to understand the problem. A low-trust, high-control environment makes it impossible to lean into Jesus’ vision for your neighborhood. We need to decentralize leadership and hold people accountable for loving their neighbors. (Not their neighbor as defined by affinity, their neighbor as defined by “where I live touches where they live.”)

        If 40% of people actually went to church in each community…. you wouldn’t see clergy getting let go or budgets shrinking or even megachurches growing. You’d see hundreds of thousands of neighborhood churches popping up EVERYWHERE there were people.

        What we have in America is a church leadership structure so absent from reality that they don’t even know how bad they are failing.

        • steve miller December 28, 2011 Reply

          Good stuff Adam!

          That sounds like it would be two hours well spent.

          I don’t know if I would agree that leadership is the biggest problem. I frequently end up in leadership and I’ve lead with guys I would trust my life to and to a much smaller degree guys who were completely out of touch.

          The problems I do see aren’t just in leadership. I see an apathy toward God’s Kingdom and God’s work among leaders and lay folks; a desire to serve God as long as it also benefits me or my goals as a troubling trend in our churches. It is hard to lead even with God’s plan when people won’t follow, ask Moses.

          Church people love seminars about affair proofing their marriages, slimming down or getting their finances in order, but ask them to selflessly serve or suffer for the cause of Christ and they glaze over. So to not lose those they have some churches teach a self-help, “God will improve your life” message.

          He may improve your life or he may take it. He may push you into suffering, he may use disease and heartache to prepare you for his work or he may bless you materially; the call is His- we don’t get to choose. WE need to preach the whole picture.

          In some ways I think we have lost our first love. We’ve become complacent and conformed to our cultures. We are full on other things. We are distracted.

          I’m glad Jesus is in charge, I’m glad he promises to build, prune, and purify HIS Church.

          If your leaders are failing (anyone’s, not specifically Adam’s), love on them. Come along side them and volunteer. Initially I was probably too controlling and not trusting enough in ministry, it took good folks who rolled up their sleeves and cried and sweated with me for me to see who to trust and that I could (and should) take criticism from those who were willing to serve with me.

          • adam mclane December 28, 2011

            I should clarify. Failure to lead doesn’t mean they are bad people. It doesn’t even mean they are bad leaders.

            My hypothesis is that we have good people working on a broken strategy. His low trust, high control. That environment never works for growth in any industry.

            The simple truth is that most churches in America practice a single methodology built around getting people to church. If that doesn’t work than Jesus isn’t for you. Our theology wouldn’t agree with that but our methodology would.

            I love the church, I’ll never give up on corporate worship. But the one-size fits all idea is simply not how our culture works anymore.

            What’s the solution? We need to raise up leaders who aren’t fascinated by control, who love collaboration, and who measure their success by their ability to move people into greater steps of faith and good deeds.

            We need a little heresy in the church. The kind of heresy that is culturally rich, biblically grounded, and completely absent from “the way we do.”

  • Midnight Watch February 13, 2012 Reply

    Adam, your statement is sickening. Unfortunately, we already have plenty of heresy in the church. What we actually need is to repent of our adulterous worship of this culture. Apostates have and will continue to devise clever methods to fill church buildings with unsaved masses. Repent.

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