A few months ago, I read an article that basically stated if a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quit going to church he or she would not go to any other church in replacement. The member would simply stop going to church at all. I don’t agree with that statement. To me it sounded like an opinion slipping in public print as fact. Perhaps the author has many examples but how big of a sample size could he be pulling from? I wanted to separate fact from opinion so I created a survey on Survey Monkey and shared it on my social platforms.
Just because a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stops attending that particular church doesn’t mean he or she will stop attending a church altogether. In fact, I think if a person wants to attend church that person will keep attending church. If a person stops attending any church it’s because that person doesn’t want to attend church at all. Not because a suitable replacement can’t be found. For my basis I actually used what I call the Nehor Principle.
In the Book of Mormon, Nehor gained many followers and introduced a belief in God that differed from the gospel. Even after his death his dogma had many followers. In contrast, another Book of Mormon figure named Korihor introduced a belief system. However, his church was seemingly short lived. I believe the difference in the two churches is one still believed in God and the other didn’t. In short, one offered a replacement to fit the void and the other didn’t.
In short, my assumption is a church going person may switch churches but won’t necessarily stop attending church altogether unless he or she doesn’t want to actually attend church anymore. As you can see, this is going to be kind of difficult to prove.
This was my first survey created for personal reasons. I don’t have a lot of resources. My reach is small. I don’t have experience creating surveys. It had just five questions.
- What church did you attend in your youth (0-18 years)?
- During the last 365 days which church did you attend?
- If you no longer attend the church from your youth, why not?
- How many church have you attended in your lifetime?
- Please rank what is the most important factor of a church for you with 1 being your highest priority (8 options)
I failed in successfully proving or disproving my hypothesis. My sample size was a meager 65 responses. It was much too small to conclusively determine an answer. Plus, my pool was, shall we say, shallow? My friends and their friends who shared the survey didn’t provide enough diversity and failed to reach the correct demographic that would have provided solid answers.
Although I still think my hypothesis rings true this survey did not confirm it. But it was fun getting responses back and I found it thought-provoking. If you know me at all then you know I am much too cheap to spring for an upgrade to get my data filtered in helpful ways. But the freebie option provided enough fodder for me to look at. While it is fairly useless it is interesting. All responses are confidential so I have no idea who filled out my little survey or how far it reached. Thank you to everyone who filled it in and here is a link if you would like to share your responses. If I get more responses I may update my findings.
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As promised, here is the data gathered.
Q3 If you no longer attend the church from your youth, why not?
The two biggest factors for those who no longer attend the same church (any church) as they did in their youth seems to be doctrine and geography. As seen below, doctrine is a major decision maker for church attendance and we tend to seek the doctrine or beliefs that rings true for us. Geography, or location of the nearest church, was actually a bigger factor than I anticipated but it does make sense. Not every church is available in every community.
Another word used more than once was hypocrisy or the actions of members when witnessed or experienced when younger.
I would like to note that those who attended church in their youth and no longer attend church now were represented from multiple faiths. Not just the LDS church members. For me, this confirmed my theory of those who want to attend church will attend church and those who don’t want to, won’t go.
Q4 How many churches have you attended in your lifetime?
Answers for this ranged from visiting hundreds to attending 1.