Survey Reveals Where Small, Large Church Attendees Diverge in Faith

People who attend larger churches are more likely than attendees of smaller ones to believe the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches, a new survey reveals.

Three out of four attendees of churches with 1,000 or more adults hold that belief compared to three out of five attendees of churches with an average attendance of 100 or less, The Barna Group reported.

The new survey, based on interviews with more than 3,000 adults, shows statistically significant differences in the beliefs and behaviors of small church attendees versus that of larger church-goers.

Sixty-one percent of those who attend churches with at least 1,000 adults say they have a personal responsibility to tell others about their beliefs. Less than half (41 percent) of adults from small congregations agree.

Fifty-five percent of larger church attendees believe a good person cannot earn a place in Heaven while only 33 percent of small church-goers say so.

Notably, a quarter of those who attend churches with 1,000 or more adults identify themselves as evangelical Christian. Only 9 percent of attendees from churches with 100 or less say they are evangelicals, which The Barna Group defines as meeting the born again criteria plus seven other conditions (including saying their faith is very important in their life today and believing that Satan exists).

The Barna report notes that the study did not examine the point in life or the church at which a particular theological perspective was embraced by respondents. Thus, the research results do not mean that larger churches are more likely to provide congregants with conservative biblical views.

In other findings, adults who attend larger churches are more likely to be active in such activities as going to church and reading the Bible than those of small churches.

Young adults are somewhat more likely to flock to the larger churches than the small congregations.

Churches with 1,000 or more adults only draw about nine percent of adults who frequent a Protestant church. Meanwhile, 41 percent of adults who attend a Protestant church associate with a congregation of 100 or fewer adults.