The major factor that keeps most churchgoers in church is not how welcome they feel, nor how awesome the worship band is, according to a new Gallup poll released on Friday. It’s the content of the sermons.
The poll, conducted on Americans who attend a religious service at a church, synagogue, or mosque at least monthly, found that the top two factors that participants said were “major” in why they attend their church were both about the sermons — whether they teach about scripture, and whether the sermons allow the listener to connect their faith to their lives.
More than three-quarters (76 percent) of survey participants said “sermons or talks that teach you more about scripture” were a major factor, while 75 percent said the same about “sermons or lectures that help you connect religion to your own life.” A larger majority of Protestants in particular said sermons were major factors, as 83 percent said that sermons that teach scripture were a major factor, and 80 percent said the same for sermons that help to connect their faith to their lives.
The two choices on sermons topped the list, beating out other factors such as “spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers” (68 percent), “community outreach and volunteer opportunities” (61 percent), “social activities that allow you to get to know people in your community” (49 percent), and “a good choir, praise band, cantors, or other spiritual music” (38 percent).
More than half (54 percent) said that “dynamic religious leaders who are interesting and inspiring” was a major factor, ranking it fifth among the seven factors.
“While social benefits are clearly important to majorities of those who worship regularly, what most motivates them to attend is learning more about the tenets of their faith, as well as connecting that faith to their lives,” Gallup noted.