A newly released study by Ellison Research shows the typical Protestant church worship service has grown more contemporary and diversified during the past five years. The greatest increases have been in the proportion of churches using video clips and graphic presentations such as PowerPoint. Results of the study were published in the March-April issue of Facts and Trends.

The study explored specific worship elements or styles churches use today, compared to what was used five years ago. The greatest increase was in the use of electronic media. Five years ago, only 5 percent of all Protestant churches used PowerPoint or similar computer graphics presentations at least once a month. Today, projected computer graphics are used in 36 percent of all churches. Very similar figures appeared for showing video clips during the worship services, such as clips of movies, music videos or popular speakers. Five years ago, just 4 percent of all churches used video clips during worship services; today, that is up to 29 percent.

Three other elements increased by more than 50 percent during the past five years. In 1999, 38 percent of all churches used praise and worship choruses during worship, while today that figure stands at 74 percent. The use of Christian rock, pop or country music has risen from 9 percent five years ago to 25 percent today; and the use of drama skits or sketches has gone from 23 percent to 42 percent.

Less than half of all churches currently use drama (42 percent), identify visitors by asking them to stand, raise their hands, etc. (38 percent), use PowerPoint or similar graphics (36 percent), use video clips (29 percent), or play Christian rock, pop or country music (25 percent). While church music has become much more contemporary and diversified in the last half-decade, still just 7 percent of all churches use any secular music during worship (similar to 4 percent five years ago).

Although Ellison Research’s study indicates that much has changed about Protestant worship during the past five years, it appears one thing has remained fairly uniform — the length of the pastor’s sermon. Today, the average minister preaches for about 31 minutes, approximately the same as five years ago, with Pentecostals preaching the longest sermons (about 40 minutes on average) and Lutherans and Methodists preaching the shortest ones — around 20 minutes. (Click here to read the entire story.)

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