Protestant churchgoers in the U.S. do not change membership often, but theology is the primary reason when they do, according to a LifeWay Research report released on June 26.

Sixty-two percent of all survey respondents have attended their current church for at least a decade, while 57 percent are “completely committed” to their congregation.

Only 15 percent have considered switching churches in the past six months.

“Thirty-five percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years. Twenty-seven percent have been there for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent have been there less than five years, while 17 percent have been at the same church for between five and nine years,” the report said. “Lutherans (52 percent), Methodists (40 percent) and Baptists (31 percent) are most likely to have been at their church for 25 years or more. Fewer nondenominational (11 percent) or Assemblies of God / Pentecostal churchgoers (13 percent) have such long tenure.”

When asked what would cause them to consider moving to another congregation, more than half of all respondents (54 percent) said if “the church changed its doctrine,” while moving to a new location was a close second (48 percent).

Less common reasons for moving congregations were a change in preaching style (19 percent), a pastor’s departure (12 percent), a family member desiring to change (10 percent), expressed political views being different than one’s own (9 percent), not feeling needed (6 percent) and a change in the style of music in worship (5 percent).

The full report is available here.

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