The faithful are restless, a study of Protestant churchgoers suggests.
They’re switching from church to church, powered by a mix of dissatisfaction and yearning, according to the study by LifeWay Research. The organization is part of the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
But 42% of the people say they switched because another church offered more appealing doctrines and preaching or the preacher and church members’ faith seemed more “authentic.”
“We may believe in the same doctrine, the same God and study the same Bible, but we are also imperfect human beings who mess up, who are not always living out those beliefs,” says Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. He adds in the rise of “consumerism and narcissism” — when people expect to customize every experience to personal taste.
More than half (54%) of switchers changed denominations as well. Fewer than half (44%) said denomination was an important factor in choosing a new church.
The study, conducted in December, surveyed 632 Protestant adults who said they switched churches. For findings on the 415 people who had not made a residential move, the margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
The study follows LifeWay’s 2006 research on 469 “formerly churched” Protestants who quit church altogether.