Clergy media usage, by denominational group…

Most Protestant clergy and laity

use Christian media, but minimally

(Original release date:  June 27, 2006)  Research results released in the July/August edition of Facts & Trends magazine show most people who attend a Protestant church are using Christian media – magazines, Web sites, television, radio, movies, and music – but Christian media is only a fraction of the media churchgoers use. Protestant clergy, on the other hand, are much heavier users of Christian media than are the people in their churches.

 

Two studies were conducted for Facts & Trends by Grey Matter Research (formerly Ellison Research) of Phoenix, Arizona. One is a representative sample of 791 Protestant church ministers nationwide, and the other is a companion survey of 1,184 adults who attend Protestant churches at least once a month. The studies asked each group about their use of various media, including what proportion of each type is general interest or secular, and what proportion is “specifically Christian” (not just that which is inspirational or has a good message).

 

Of the eight types of media covered in this study, the type with the largest proportion of churchgoers using a Christian version of the media is music. Seventy-eight percent of Protestant churchgoers listen to music that is specifically Christian, and among those who listen to music, Christian music makes up an average of 42 percent of what they listen to.

 

Not far behind is radio. Sixty-four percent of churchgoers listen to Christian radio (music or talk formats), and among those who listen to radio, Christian radio represents 37 percent of what they listen to, on average.

 

Sixty-four percent of all adults who attend a Protestant church visit Christian websites, but Christian websites make up only 20 percent of what the typical Protestant uses online. The numbers for television are identical – 64 percent of all laity watch Christian television, but it accounts for only 20 percent of all programming they watch, on average.

 

Sixty percent of all laity read Christian non-fiction books (excluding the Bible), and Christian books make up four out of every ten non-fiction books they read, on average. There is much more usage of Christian non-fiction books than fiction books. Only 47 percent read any Christian fiction, and Christian books account for an average of 28 percent of all fiction books read.

 

Fifty-five percent of all laity report watching Christian movies, and Christian films make up an average of 17 percent of all movies Protestants watch.

 

The type of media with the lowest use of Christian options is magazines. Only 44 percent of all churchgoers read any Christian magazines, and Christian magazines make up just 21 percent of the magazine reading done by the average Protestant.

 

Rarely do people rely exclusively on Christian media. Just 5 percent of all Protestants only listen to Christian radio, 7 percent only listen to Christian music, and 1 percent watch only Christian television, for instance.

 

There are numerous differences by denominational groupings. While Southern Baptists are fairly average in their media use, people who attend other types of Baptist churches (e.g. independent Baptist, General Baptist, Regular Baptist) are particularly heavy consumers of Christian fiction and Christian radio. People from Pentecostal or charismatic denominations are more likely than average to use Christian fiction, magazines, websites, and particularly radio and music.

 

Protestants from mostly mainline denominational groups are, on average, lighter consumers of Christian media. Methodists are relatively light users of Christian books, radio, music, and websites. Lutherans are comparatively infrequent consumers of Christian films, fiction, music, and radio. Presbyterians are the denominational group least likely to listen to Christian radio.

 

Some of the greatest differences are when lay leaders (volunteer leaders in church, such as Sunday school teachers, drama directors, or Bible study leaders) are separated from the crowd. For most types of media, lay leaders are more likely than non-leaders to use a Christian version of the media, and Christian media makes up a higher proportion of what they use.

 

An example is Christian radio. Seventy-two percent of all lay leaders listen to Christian radio, compared to 61 percent of non-leaders. The average lay leader spends 49 percent of his/her radio time tuned to Christian radio, compared to 31 percent among non-leaders.

 

Clergy have heavier usage of all eight types of Christian media than do the people in their churches. Among clergy, the most ubiquitous form of Christian media is non-fiction books. Ninety-two percent read Christian non-fiction, and Christian works make up an average of 76 percent of all non-fiction they read.

 

Christian music is also commonly used by ministers – 94 percent listen to Christian music, and it comprises an average of 66 percent of all music they listen to. Eighty-seven percent of clergy read Christian magazines, and Christian versions comprise an average of 61 percent of pastors’ magazine reading.

 

Eighty-four percent listen to Christian radio, but the average pastor splits time between Christian and secular radio almost equally (48 percent Christian, on average). The numbers are very similar for Christian Web sites – 83 percent of all pastors visit Christian Web sites, and Christian sites account for an average of 51 percent of the sites they visit.

 

Among clergy, the lowest levels of Christian media use are for movies, television, and fiction books. Seventy-six percent report watching Christian movies, but Christian movies account for only 26 percent of all movie viewing. Seventy-seven percent watch Christian television, but Christian programming accounts for only 23 percent of all TV they watch, on average. And just 53 percent read any Christian fiction, with Christian books comprising an average of 45 percent of the fiction ministers read.

 

Like churchgoers, ministers rarely rely solely on Christian media. Fourteen percent listen exclusively to Christian music and 15 percent read only Christian non-fiction books, but just 8 percent only listen to Christian radio, 7 percent read only Christian magazines, and 1 percent visit only Christian websites.

 

Also like churchgoers, for clergy there are significant differences in media use according to denominational groupings. Southern Baptist ministers are particularly heavy users of Christian radio and movies. Clergy from other Baptist denominations are also more likely than average to listen to Christian radio. Pentecostal and charismatic pastors rely more than average on Christian music.

 

Lutherans read less Christian fiction, listen to less Christian music and radio, and watch less Christian TV than average. Presbyterians consume less Christian television and radio. Methodists are fairly average in their media use. Overall, evangelical pastors tend to be heavier consumers of Christian media than are mainline Protestant ministers – evangelicals are heavier users of Christian fiction, music, magazines, and radio than are mainline pastors.

 

Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, noted that these figures show what the business community has known for some time – Christian media is big business with a wide reach. “Secular corporations have been backing movies with strong religious themes, buying Christian publishing companies, and releasing albums from Christian artists,” Sellers noted, “and these figures really show why. Christian media, although often still lacking the financial resources of the secular media, is reaching tens of millions of Protestant churchgoers and clergy on a regular basis – to say nothing of its reach among people who don’t attend Protestant churches.”

 

Sellers noted that there is still tremendous room for growth. “Although Christian media of some type reaches the vast majority of Protestants, for the average person it still represents a fraction of the media they consume. From a pure business standpoint, in most categories there is probably greater growth potential in getting current Christian media consumers to consume more of it than to try to convert non-users to users.”

 

Study Details:

Both studies were conducted by Grey Matter Research, a marketing research company located in Phoenix, Arizona. The sample of 791 Protestant ministers included only those who are actively leading churches. The study’s total sample is accurate to within ±3.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution. The sample of 1,184 people who attend a Protestant church once a month or more is accurate to within ±2.7 percentage points under the same parameters.

 

Both studies were conducted in all 50 states, using a representative sample of pastors and laity from all Protestant denominations. Respondents’ gender, age, geography, church size, and denomination were carefully tracked to ensure appropriate representation and accuracy.

The hand that rules the press, the radio, the screen, and

the far-spread magazine rules the country.

Learned Hand, U.S. Circuit Court Judge

A PASSION FOR

RESEARCH THAT

MAKES A DIFFERENCE

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Clergy media usage, by age and theology…

Laity media usage, by age and church leadership…

Direct comparison of clergy and laity media use…

 

Use of Media

 

All

Southern

Baptist

Other

Baptist

 

Methodist

 

Lutheran

 

Pentecostal

 

Presbyterian

All

Others

Movies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any movies

17%

15%

24%

14%

16%

20%

15%

15%

   only watch Christian movies

2

1

--

--

--

6

--

2

   only watch secular movies

7

2

4

9

15

--

14

13

   watch any Christian movies

76

83

72

77

69

80

71

72

   average % of movies

   that are Christian

 

26

 

34

 

31

 

20

 

15

 

37

 

20

 

20

Fiction books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any fiction books

40

47

51

30

25

42

18

39

   only read Christian fiction books

6

9

4

8

--

8

2

5

   only read secular fiction books

7

6

4

10

20

--

20

8

   read any Christian fiction books

53

47

45

60

55

58

62

53

   average % of fiction books

   that are Christian

 

45

 

56

 

48

 

42

 

26

 

58

 

29

 

41

Non-fiction books (not the Bible):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any non-fiction books

7

9

6

5

6

13

8

3

   only read Christian non-fiction books

15

20

17

12

10

22

2

11

   only read secular non-fiction books

1

2

2

--

--

--

--

3

   read any Christian non-fiction books

92

89

92

95

94

87

92

94

   average % of non-fiction

   books that are Christian

 

76

 

79

 

78

 

76

 

67

 

81

 

65

 

72

Music:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any music

3

4

1

1

5

2

8

3

   only listen to Christian music

14

14

18

4

--

33

2

8

   only listen to secular music

3

--

--

3

11

--

5

7

   listen to any Christian music

94

96

99

96

84

98

87

90

   average % of music

   that is Christian

 

66

 

73

 

72

 

56

 

41

 

86

 

47

 

56

Television:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any television

8

4

7

5

9

12

10

8

   only watch Christian television

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

   only watch secular television

15

8

16

15

30

6

31

18

   watch any Christian television

77

88

77

80

61

82

59

74

   average % of television

   that is Christian

 

23

 

28

 

24

 

22

 

14

 

32

 

9

 

19

Magazines:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any magazines

11

14

12

12

7

14

8

8

   only read Christian magazines

7

7

4

4

2

14

6

6

   only read secular magazines

2

--

2

1

--

--

2

6

   read any Christian magazines

87

86

86

87

93

86

90

86

   average % of magazines

   that are Christian

 

61

 

67

 

64

 

54

 

52

 

69

 

55

 

55

Radio:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any radio

6

4

4

8

5

9

14

6

   only listen to Christian radio

8

13

13

3

--

11

--

5

   only listen to secular radio

10

3

5

13

22

8

20

14

   listen to any Christian radio

84

93

91

79

95

83

66

80

   average % of radio

   that is Christian

 

48

 

62

 

54

 

42

 

24

 

59

 

27

 

40

Websites:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t visit any websites

16

17

21

8

12

20

20

16

   only visit Christian websites

1

3

1

--

--

1

--

1

   only visit secular websites

1

2

--

--

--

--

--

2

   visit any Christian websites

83

81

79

92

88

80

80

82

   average % of websites

   that are Christian

 

51

 

57

 

52

 

51

 

42

 

55

 

47

 

47

Use of Media

Age 18 – 45

Age 45 – 59

Age 60+

Mainline

Evangelical

Movies:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any movies

10%

13%

35%

13%

18%

   watch any Christian movies

82

80

60

72

79

   average % of movies that are Christian

23

25

37

19

30

Fiction books:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any fiction books

41

39

40

30

42

   read any Christian fiction books

52

54

53

55

54

   average % of fiction books that are Christian

53

42

48

31

53

Non-fiction books (excluding the Bible):

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any non-fiction books

4

5

15

6

6

   read any Christian non-fiction books

96

93

85

93

93

   average % of non-fiction books that are Christian

79

75

72

71

78

Music:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any music

1

2

5

2

3

   listen to any Christian music

98

94

92

91

95

   average % of music that is Christian

70

64

66

48

73

Television:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any television

9

5

13

6

8

   watch any Christian television

71

81

73

74

79

   average % of television that is Christian

22

21

31

19

25

Magazines:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any magazines

13

10

13

9

13

   read any Christian magazines

85

87

87

88

86

   average % of magazines that are Christian

61

60

61

53

65

Radio:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any radio

6

5

10

6

6

   listen to any Christian radio

84

84

82

76

87

   average % of radio that is Christian

54

46

47

34

54

Websites:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t visit any websites

7

12

38

11

16

   visit any Christian websites

93

87

61

87

83

   average % of websites that are Christian

56

49

49

44

55

 

Use of Media

Age
18 – 34

Age
35 – 54

Age
55+

Lay

Leader

Not a Lay

Leader

Movies:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any movies

12%

15%

46%

28%

23%

   watch any Christian movies

65

65

35

59

53

   average % of movies that are Christian

15

18

17

24

14

Fiction books:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any fiction books

24

28

44

31

33

   read any Christian fiction books

56

48

37

56

42

   average % of fiction books that are Christian

28

27

30

41

22

Non-fiction books (excluding the Bible):

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any non-fiction books

23

24

38

27

29

   read any Christian non-fiction books

61

65

52

65

57

   average % of non-fiction books that are Christian

35

38

46

48

36

Music:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any music

7

8

13

11

9

   listen to any Christian music

79

80

75

84

75

   average % of music that is Christian

38

44

44

56

36

Television:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t watch any television

11

12

14

13

12

   watch any Christian television

57

67

65

68

62

   average % of television that is Christian

15

20

24

24

18

Magazines:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t read any magazines

21

25

34

25

28

   read any Christian magazines

40

50

44

58

39

   average % of magazines that are Christian

16

23

22

28

17

Radio:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t listen to any radio

14

13

26

18

17

   listen to any Christian radio

65

70

58

72

61

   average % of radio that is Christian

32

39

38

49

31

Websites:

 

 

 

 

 

   don’t visit any websites

9

13

23

16

14

   visit any Christian websites

68

70

55

68

63

   average % of websites that are Christian

17

21

23

24

19

Use of Media

Clergy

Laity

Movies:

 

 

   watch any Christian movies

76%

55%

   average % of movies that are Christian

26

17

Fiction books:

 

 

   read any Christian fiction books

53

47

   average % of fiction books that are Christian

45

28

Non-fiction books:

 

 

   read any Christian non-fiction books

92

60

   average % of non-fiction books that are Christian

76

40

Music:

 

 

   listen to any Christian music

94

78

   average % of music that is Christian

66

42

Television:

 

 

   watch any Christian television

77

64

   average % of television that is Christian

23

20

Magazines:

 

 

   read any Christian magazines

87

44

   average % of magazines that are Christian

61

21

Radio:

 

 

   listen to any Christian radio

84

64

   average % of radio that is Christian

48

37

Websites:

 

 

   visit any Christian websites

83

64

   average % of websites that are Christian

51

20