In-Depth Sermons More In-Demand Among Younger Evangelicals Than Older Ones: Survey

Reading God's Word in worship

A survey conducted by Grey Matter Research & Consulting, an Arizona-based organization headed by veteran journalist and thought leader Ron Sellers, in collaboration with Infinity Concepts, showed that younger evangelical Protestants prefer in-depth sermons than their older counterparts.

Church Leaders reported that the survey released last January 7, entitled "The Congregational Scorecard: What Evangelicals Want In A Church," centered on evangelicals below the age of 40 and involved at least 1,000 respondents who are 89% church-goers. The scorecard provides a variety of interesting findings that include satisfaction on sermon duration and content and music style during worship services.

"Some people have advocated for short sermons for the younger generation, with the idea being that younger adults have shorter attention spans. Yet only 10 percent of evangelicals under age 40 would prefer shorter sermons at their church," the scorecard said.

"The younger the evangelical, the more likely he or she is to want more in-depth teaching at church...Among the three out of ten evangelicals who want something different, it is almost unanimous: give us more in-depth teaching...(Younger evangelicals) are twice as likely as the oldest evangelicals to call for more in-depth teaching at church (39 percent to 20 percent)," it added.

The survey also defined what an "evangelical" is. Accordingly, he or she is "someone who agrees strongly" that "the Bible is the highest authority for what I believe" and that "Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin." An evangelical is one who gives importance in encouraging "non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior" because "only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation."

According to Grey Matter Research, the intent of the research was to identify what evangelical Protestants "would change in their church" involving 14 areas such as music, outreach, sermon, donation, and number of women in leadership, among others.

The findings showed that church-going evangelicals, at 74%, are happy with their church in the 14 areas indicated in the survey. Of the 14 areas, three showed the greatest amount of satisfaction. These are on donations, sermon length, and service length. The survey showed that 88% of evangelical Protestants "are fine with their church as is" in so far as "how often donations are requested." While 85% are satisfied with the sermon length and similarly for the overall service length.

There are areas evangelical Protestants would like to change with their church. These areas include the church's political involvement, style of music, congregation size, and amount of outreach. A majority or 68% wish that the amount of political involvement or the number of political messages their church had would be different, with 11% "wishing for more" and 22% "wishing for less."

In so far as style of music is concerned, a majority or 68% also expressed it was different in their church, with 18% "wanting it more traditional" and 15% "preferring more contemporary music." A majority or 67% of evangelical Protestants want their size of congregation different, "with 26% wanting it larger and 7% smaller." Similarly, 62% or a majority of evangelical Protestants want a change in the amount of the church's community outreach "with almost anyone else wanting more."

Grey Matter pointed out some variances in how the respondents expected change to happen in their churches.

"In some cases, when evangelicals wish for change they're not in agreement about what that change should be (as in the case of nearly equal calls for more contemporary or more traditional music)," Grey Matter Research pointed out.

"The areas in which the largest portion of evangelicals wish for a specific change in their church include 38% who want more outreach to the community, 30% who call for more in-depth teaching, 27% who want to see more focus on evangelism, 26% who wish the congregation were larger, 23% who would like more racial or ethnic diversity, 22% who would prefer less political involvement, and 20% who want more music," they added.