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Churchgoers Less Familiar Than Pastors With Deconstruction, More Likely To See It in Their Pews

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Many churchgoers are not familiar with the term “deconstruction,” but if they are, they’ve likely seen it within the church pews they sit in on a regular basis.

Lifeway Research study of Protestant churchgoers in the United States found more than 1 in 3 (36%) are familiar or very familiar with the concept of deconstruction. Meanwhile, more than 1 in 4 (28%) have not heard of the term before.

similar Lifeway Research study shows pastors are more likely to be familiar with deconstruction. Among U.S. Protestant pastors, more than 2 in 5 (46%) are familiar or very familiar with the concept of deconstruction, and 14% have not heard the term.

However, among those who have heard of the term, churchgoers are more likely than pastors to say they have seen attendees of their church methodically deconstruct their faith (37% v. 27%).

“It’s not surprising the majority of churchgoers are not very familiar with the term ‘deconstruction,’ since it often describes a person’s private journey or one that’s shared within a limited social set,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.

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“The fluid nature of the term and its affinity among those on social media or podcasts distances it from many Christians. The term can be used both to represent a total abolishing of one’s faith or to describe one’s personal questioning and working out their salvation to greater faith.”

Familiarity With the Term

There is a correlation between the churchgoer’s age and their familiarity with the term “deconstruction.” Churchgoers over the age of 65 are the most likely to say they have not heard the term “deconstruction” before (51%) and the least likely to say they are familiar or very familiar with the term (12%). The younger the churchgoer, the more likely they are to have heard the term before and be familiar with it.

Similarly, younger pastors, those 18-44, are the most likely to say they’re very familiar with deconstruction (36%), while pastors 65 and older are the least likely to possess that same level of familiarity (12%).

“The study did not ask churchgoers the characteristics of those they see deconstructing their faith, but strong age patterns in those noticing the dissection of their faith imply it is more common among those under age 50,” McConnell said.

African American pastors are more likely than white pastors to not have heard of deconstruction (24% v. 13%). Within the pews, however, white churchgoers (33%) are among the most likely and African American churchgoers (16%) are among the least likely to say they’re not familiar with the term.

Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs are less likely than those without these beliefs to be familiar or very familiar with the term “deconstruction” (33% v. 39%) and more likely to have not heard the term before (32% v. 26%).