New Research: Nearly Half of Online Users Use Internet for Religion
Earlier this year, I wrote on 12 positives and 12 precautions of technology and faith. The intersection of faith and technology is a topic of increasing importance for churches. Simply put, we must embrace tech and web to engage in this time and place. Last week some new data related to this topic was released by Grey Matter Research, a research firm we've found reliable over the years. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 American adults who use the Internet, they found that 44% use the web for religious purposes.
Among online Americans, Internet use for religious purposes is particularly common among the young. Fifty-seven percent of online adults under age 35 use the Internet for religion, compared to 48% who are 35 to 49 years old, 36% who are 50 to 64, and 31% who are 65 or older.
It is likely no surprise that people who are religiously active are particularly liable to use the Internet for religious purposes. For instance, 69% of those who attend worship services once a month or more use the Internet for spiritual purposes, compared to 27% of those who do not attend worship regularly. Similarly, religious use of the Internet is 70% among people who read the Bible or another sacred text at least once a month, versus 28% among those who do not.
LifeWay Research has done several studies on church usage of technology. We've looked at electronic giving, cloud computing, social networking, and general web usage and have found similar results with churches as this study did with individuals-- usage is nearly split half and half. For nearly every church excelling in web use, we see another shunning it. However, as both familiarity and access to technology increase, I expect both the number of people and churches using the Internet to reach the lost and make disciples to increase accordingly.
More from the research:
- 91% of evangelicals use the internet for religious purposes
- 19% have, in the past six months, visited the website of a church or other place of worship they are currently attending
- During that same time frame, another 17% have visited the website of a church or place of worship they were not attending
- 19% have visited a website designed to provide religious instruction or learning during the last six months
- 17% read religion-oriented blogs once a month or more
- 14% have a pastor or other religious leader as a friend on Facebook or a similar social network site
- 11% have visited the website of a group or organization from a religious faith that is different from their own during the last six months
- One out of ten have "Liked" a church or other place of worship on Facebook or a similar social network site
- 8% participate in religion-oriented discussions online (e.g. bulletin boards or forums) once a month or more
- 2% follow a church or other place of worship on Twitter
- Another 2% follow a pastor or other religious leader on Twitter