Younger evangelicals are not necessarily looking for short, superficial sermons when they go to church, according to a new report. Findings indicate that younger evangelicals who attend church regularly are more likely than their older counterparts to crave in-depth teaching.
“I’ve actually gotten lots of feedback that YOUNG PEOPLE want more in-depth sermons,” said pastor and public theologian Jake Doberenz in a tweet about some of the report’s findings. “So many young people have told me Sunday sermons are practically useless for their spiritual development because they are half an inch deep.”
I’ve actually gotten lots of feedback that YOUNG PEOPLE want more in-depth sermons. So many young people have told me Sunday sermons are practically useless for their spiritual development because they are half an inch deep. https://t.co/nxFQ2Il2Tp
— Jake Doberenz in Digital (@JakeDoberenz) January 18, 2022
Younger Evangelicals Want Depth in Church
Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts collaborated on “The Congregational Scorecard: What Evangelicals Want in a Church,” which was released Jan. 7. Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 American evangelical Protestants, specifically focusing on the 89 percent who attend church, and respondents gave feedback on 14 different aspects of church life.
An “evangelical” was defined as “someone who agrees strongly” with the following:
-The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe
-It is important for me to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior
-Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin
-Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation
“The Congregational Scorecard” offers a number of interesting findings, some of which center on younger people, that is, evangelicals under the age of 40. “Some people have advocated for short sermons for the younger generation,” write the authors, “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.”
Looking at evangelical churchgoers as a whole, 85 percent are content with the average length of a sermon. Seven percent prefer sermons to be shorter, and eight percent prefer them to be longer. The group with the highest percentage of people (11 percent) who prefer shorter sermons is actually evangelicals age 70 and older. The group with the highest percentage of people (11 percent) who would like sermons to be longer is evangelicals age 40 to 54.
Another surprising finding about younger churchgoers was that, “The younger the evangelical, the more likely he or she is to want more in-depth teaching at church.” Seventy percent of evangelical churchgoers like the teaching in their churches as it currently is. The other 30 percent want the teaching to have more depth to it. Say the authors, “Among the three out of ten evangelicals who want something different, it is almost unanimous: give us more in-depth teaching.” And younger evangelicals “are twice as likely as the oldest evangelicals to call for more in-depth teaching at church (39 percent to 20 percent).”
One more finding about evangelicals under the age of 40 that is somewhat unexpected is their preferences regarding music style in worship services. “As might be expected,” say the authors, “the oldest evangelicals are far more likely to call for more traditional music in their church rather than more contemporary music (23 percent to 9 percent). What may be rather surprising, however, is that the youngest evangelicals are equally split on this issue, with 18 percent wanting the music to be more contemporary, but 17 percent wishing to hear more traditional music in their church.”