EXPORT, PA – Newly released research shows the vast majority of evangelical Protestants in the US access “specifically Christian” content through various media forms. However, evangelical use of individual media types is fragmented.
The findings are detailed in Media Matters: Evangelicals and Media. The study of over 1,000 American evangelical Protestants was released today by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research.
Evangelicals were asked to distinguish between content that is specifically Christian – not just “clean” or “family friendly” – and content which is not specifically Christian. Almost every study participant reported consuming both specifically Christian content and that which is not specifically Christian (called “mainstream” in the report). The proportion of content that is specifically Christian differs substantially from one media type to the next.
Three media types – broadcast radio, podcasts, and books – have evangelicals relying on specifically Christian content for the majority of what they consume. All the rest (television, streaming video, magazines, and websites) have the typical evangelical reporting the majority of the content they consume is not specifically Christian.
The study found consumption of specifically Christian media content tends to be higher among three types of evangelicals:
- Those with greater overall spiritual engagement (more frequent churchgoers, more frequent Bible readers, are part of a small group for Bible study or prayer)
- Those who are charismatic or Pentecostal (reporting having personally spoken in tongues)
- Those in the lowest income group (below $30,000 household income, compared to mid-level and high-income evangelicals who tend to use less Christian media)
The study also explores which media evangelicals prefer to use for specifically spiritual purposes, such as Bible teaching, study, or prayer. The average evangelical Protestant uses 3.4 different media types for spiritual purposes, with the most popular being printed books (43%), television (38%), and websites (36%). Significant proportions also use streaming video (29%), mobile apps (28%), broadcast radio (23%), and podcasts (20%).
Mark Dreistadt, founder and president of Infinity Concepts, notes that media use for spiritual purposes varies quite a bit by age. “As we would expect, younger evangelicals are especially likely to use newer forms of media, such as satellite radio, Internet radio, apps, and podcasts. But substantial proportions of younger evangelicals also use more traditional media, such as television and printed books, as part of their faith practices. Younger evangelicals use a wider variety of different media than their older counterparts.”
Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, explains that this effect is relatively common. “We’ve seen this in many other areas – something new is introduced and it’s predicted to be the quick death of something traditional,” Sellers explains. “For instance, we saw it with e-readers, which were quickly predicted to kill off printed books. Instead, what often happens is consumers adopt the new along with the old rather than instead of the old, depending on specific needs.” Sellers and Dreistadt point to evangelicals under age 40 as an example of this: while 36% of evangelicals under age 40 use mobile apps for spiritual purposes, the same proportion still use printed books.
For interviews contact:
- Ron Sellers, Grey Matter Research: firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-684-6294, or
- Darrell Law, Infinity Concepts: email@example.com, 724-930-2801
Definition of “Evangelical Protestant”
This study uses the definition of “evangelical” favored by the National Association of Evangelicals, based on four key spiritual beliefs.
Infinity Concepts has served clients worldwide for twenty years as America’s premier Christian brand communications and fundraising agency.
Grey Matter Research is a marketing research and consumer insights company with extensive experience serving the charitable and faith-based sectors.
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