Research: Americans Prefer In-Person Preaching to Video

So do the rest of us, no doubt.

Most Americans still prefer a real-live preacher to a video sermon, according to a survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

About a third (35 percent) say they will only visit churches with a live sermon.

Three in 10 say a video sermon won’t keep them from a church, but they still prefer live peaching. The same number say live or video sermons are fine.

Less than one percent prefer to watch a video sermon.

“I don’t think anyone gets up on a Sunday morning saying, ‘Boy, I’d really like to watch a video sermon,’ ” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research and author of Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation. “But the fact that many churches utilize video sermons means other factors such as relationships, preaching approach, music, relevance, and location can be more important.”



Bible Archaeology

The Archaeological Survey of Israel

Which is a fantastic archaeological site by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Dr Aren Maeir (HT) notes:

Dr. Ofer Sion, who is the head of the survey department at the IAA, sent out an email today from which I first saw the excellent website of the Archaeological Survey of Israel. On this site (here is the Hebrew version and here is the English one [which is still listed as a beta version]), you can get online versions of 83 survey maps that have been published so far, including those that were published in hard and electronic forms. There are maps, photos, pottery plates, and most important, accessible summaries, and hard data, from all these maps.

Do check this out – it is an outstanding resource!

That it is! Enjoy.



Profile of Anglicans

British Religion in Numbers:

… The YouGov survey which Professor Linda Woodhead commissioned to inform the 2013 series of Westminster Faith Debates, and which BRIN has been reporting after each debate, is likely to prove a very valuable dataset for subsequent secondary analysis. To illustrate the point, Professor Woodhead, with statistical support from the Revd Professor Bernard Silverman, has used the poll (conducted online among 4,437 Britons aged 18 and over on 25-30 January 2013) to undertake a segmentation analysis of contemporary Anglicans (1,261 identified themselves as such in the survey). Her findings are presented in her article ‘”Nominals” are the Church’s Hidden Strength’ in the current issue (26 April 2013, p. 16) of the Church Times. This is only available online to subscribers of the newspaper.

The analysis proper, which forms the first part of the article, distinguishes four types of Anglicans:

Godfearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans) – These are Anglicans who attend church, are very certain in their belief in God, and who say that God is the main source of authority in their lives. They are also likely to score highly on other indicators of religiosity (such as prayer and Bible-reading) and to hold conservative views on many issues of personal morality, particularly sexuality (setting them apart with Baptists and Muslims rather than fellow Anglicans).

Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans) – These have more in common with Non-Churchgoing Believers than with the Godfearers. Apart from their churchgoing, they differ in being a little more religious than Non-Churchgoing Believers on a number of measures and a little more morally conservative.

Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans) – These share a good many of the attributes of Mainstream Churchgoers, notwithstanding that they do not attend church. They all believe in God (although some prefer the word Spirit), and significant numbers practise religious or spiritual activities regularly. ‘These “nominals” are more than Anglican in name only: they believe, practise, and identify with Anglicanism.’

Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans) – These Anglicans are also more than merely nominal. Only 15% are outright atheists, most being agnostic or unsure about God, and more than one-fifth claim to practise some religious or spiritual activity in private. They are the most morally permissive of the four groups.

The second half of the article is an impassioned – some may say occasionally idealized – plea for the Church of England to take more seriously non-churchgoing Anglicans in general, and Non-Churchgoing Believers in particular, rather than representing Godfearing Churchgoers as the ‘most real Anglicans’. Woodhead contends that the Church is in danger of becoming too clerical and congregationally-based, and of abandoning its sense of being a lay institution governed by monarch and Parliament, and responsible to the people.

The whole piece is here.



49% of UK Anglicans Believe There is a God

Speaking of Godlessness, over at the eChurch blog:

According to a Sunday Times survey conducted by YouGov, of the 546 respondents that considered their religion to be Church of England, only 49% responded positively to the question: I believe there is a God.

The question posed was:  People have different beliefs about God, which of the following best applies to you?

49% I believe there is a God.

26% I do not believe in a God, but do believe there is some sort of spiritual higher power.

10% I do not believe in any sort of God or higher spiritual power.

16% Don’t know.

Hop over to BRIN to see a thorough breakdown of the survey findings.


Respect for Clergy at a Low Ebb in the UK

And probably elsewhere too… Stuart reports (from the UK), and asks:

How did it come to this?

According to a new survey, out of twenty-five professions, only eight ranked lower in terms of respect than Priests / Ministers.

54% of respondents had a “Great deal” or “Fair amount” of respect for clergy.

The professions held in lower regard were:

Accountants 46%

Bankers 15%

Building Contractors 43%

Business Executives 28%

Car salesmen 14%

Journalists 20%

Lawyers 53%

Politicians 15%

Clergy ranked equal with Actors / Artists.



Christianity: Africa’s Largest Faith


Christianity is the largest faith in Africa, a study presented last week at El Jadida University in Morocco reports.

Christians account for 46.53 per cent, Muslims 40.46 per cent and traditional African religions 11.8 per cent of the continent’s population, participants in the conference organized by the Centre for Studies on New Religions learned.

Conference chairman Professor Massimo Introvigne noted that the Christian faith has witnessed remarkable growth in Africa over the past century.  In 1900 ten million Christians lived in Africa while in 2012 this number had grown to 500 million.  Only 2 per cent of Christians were African in 1900 but 20 per cent of Christians reside in Africa today, the conference learned.

Across Africa 31 countries have are predominantly Christian, 21 Muslim and 6 traditional African religions.  The rapid growth of the Christian faith may be one of the causes of the continent’s increased sectarian tensions, Prof. Introvigne noted.

“Some Islamic ultra-fundamentalists consider it scandalous that there are more Christians than Muslims in Africa and proceed to persecute and kill Christians in countries such as Nigeria, Mali, Somalia and Kenya. The way the ultra-fundamentalists see it, today, the battle which will determine whether the world will be Muslim or Christian is being fought in Africa. And that Islam is losing. This is why they are responding with bombs.”


Survey: Protestants Are No Longer Majority in United States


Following a string of recent developments that suggest waning Protestant power like the first Supreme Court with no Protestant justices, and a Protestant-free Republican presidential ticket a new Pew survey finds that Protestants are no longer the majority in the United States.

The Protestant population has declined from 53% of the U.S. population in 2007 to 48% this year, according to the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released Tuesday.

The results mark the first time since Pew has been tracking the country’s religious demographics that the share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dipped significantly below 50%.

The largest decline among Protestant subgroups tracked by Pew was among white mainline Protestants, whose proportion of the population dropped 3 percentage points, from 18% to 15%.

At the release of the Pew survey, John Green, a senior adviser at Pew, quoted historian Robert Wuthnow in characterizing the changes as part of a wider “restructuring of American religion.”

“The core of this phenomenon is many of the older distinctions that characterize American religion …  are being replaced with a new kind of religion,” Green said.

The study also found that the fastest growing “religious group” in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

The decline of Protestant hegemony has been on display in recent developments in politics and government.

John Paul Stevens, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2010, was the last Protestant to serve on the Supreme Court. President Barack Obama replaced him with Elena Kagan, who is Jewish. The court is now made up entirely of Jews and Catholics.

Among the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, only Barack Obama is a Protestant.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, while running mate Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden are both Catholic.

The Republican ticket is the first Protestant-free presidential ticket in decades.

William Galston, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, told CNN that the GOP ticket “really symbolizes the passing of an era.”

“All the groups that make up the new American population, as opposed to the population of 50 years ago, are now participating on equal” terms, in politics and American society in general, Galston said.

The Pew findings echo those of other surveys that track religious trends. The General Social Survey, conducted by the University of Chicago, has also shown a downward trend in American Protestantism.

According to Pew, Protestants are still the largest religious group in the United States, followed by Catholics, who make up 22% of the country, and the unaffiliated, who account for almost 20%.

“There are vast implications for this change for American society,” Green said. “The trends that we have been observing are likely to continue for at least several decades, if not longer than that.”

The Pew report is based on a telephone survey from June 28-July 9, 2012, that included a national sample of 2,973 adults. The margin of error ranges between two and four percentage points.