By Aaron Earls
American Protestant churchgoers say God is on their mind throughout their day in both intentional and impromptu moments.
The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from Nashville-based Lifeway Research identified seeking God as one of eight signposts of spiritual maturity.
About 2 in 3 Americans who regularly attend a Protestant church (67%) disagree with the statement: “Throughout many of my activities I don’t think about God,” with 40% strongly disagreeing.
Fewer (19%) agree or say they neither agree nor disagree (14%).
“A Christian has the opportunity to walk with God,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Most churchgoers affirm their thoughts are on God as they go about life’s activities.”
Women are more likely than men (45% to 33%) to strongly assert they’re thinking about God throughout their day.
Middle-aged churchgoers are more likely to say they think about God during many of their activities. Those age 35 to 49 (42%) and 50 to 64 (46%) are more likely to strongly affirm their constant thoughts of God than those 18 to 34 (33%) and those 65 and older (36%).
African American (55%) and Hispanic churchgoers (51%) are more likely to strongly assert they regularly think about God during the day than white churchgoers (33%) or churchgoers of other ethnicities (32%).
Black Protestants (58%) are more likely than evangelical Protestants (40%) or mainline Protestants (27%) to strongly disagree they don’t think about God throughout many of their activities.
Those who attend worship services at least weekly (41%) are more likely than those who attend less frequently (36%) to strongly disagree.
Around 2 in 5 churchgoers (38%) say they set aside time for private worship, praise or thanksgiving to God every day.
Another 29% say they do so a few times a week, while 13% set aside the time once a week, 7% a few times a month, 4% once a month, and 9% rarely or never.
“Having an attitude of praise requires noticing who God is and what He is doing. This takes intentionality,” said McConnell. “Once we choose to observe His work, however, the thanks and worship come naturally.”
Female churchgoers (40%) are more likely than their male counterparts (36%) to say they set aside those moments every day.
African Americans (45%) and Hispanics (43%) are also more likely than whites (36%) or other ethnicities (31%) to have specific times for private worship, praise or thanksgiving every day.
Black Protestants (46%) and evangelical Protestants (40%) are more likely than mainline Protestants (29%) to say they have such times daily.
Those who attend church at least weekly (40%) are more likely than those who attend less frequently (33%) to have set aside times for private worship every day.
Around three-quarters of Protestant churchgoers (78%) agree they find themselves praying at the spur-of-the-moment throughout the day, with 44% strongly agreeing.
Few disagree (8%), while 14% neither agree nor disagree.
“Who we turn to when we have good or bad news says a lot about our relationships,” said McConnell. “If we immediately want to share life’s ups and downs with God and ask Him for help and guidance, that demonstrates we value our relationship with Him.”
Around half of women who regularly attend a Protestant church (49%) strongly agree they find themselves praying throughout the day, compared to 36% of male churchgoers.
Evangelical Protestants (46%) and black Protestants (45%) are more likely to strongly agree than mainline Protestants (32%).
Those who attend a worship service four times a month or more (46%) are more likely to strongly agree than those who attend less frequently (38%).
“Jesus opened the way for people to enter God’s presence through His death on the cross,” said McConnell. “As individuals respond to Christ’s call, they see Deuteronomy 4:29 fulfilled in their lives—when they seek God with all their soul, they will find Him.”
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.
The online survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers was conducted Jan. 14–29, 2019 and sponsored by the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with funding from the Southern Baptists of Texas. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant or non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, income and denominational affiliation. The completed sample is 2,500 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 2.0%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.