prolades.com
WHY ARE EVANGELICALS DESERTING THEIR CHURCHES
TO JOIN OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUPS OR
TO STOP PARTICIPATING IN ANY RELIGIOUS GROUP
IN LATIN AMERICA?
 
Compiled by Dr. Clifton L. Holland
Director of PROLADES
5 September 2002
 
Principal reasons given by ex-Evangelicals in a control group of 17 people on 18 August 1989 in the offices of CID-Gallup in Costa Rica:
  
Potential causes of desertion uncovered in a fieldwork investigation done by 15 seminary students in Costa Rica as part of a course on Christian Ministry, taught by the Rev. Rafael Baltodano, at ESEPA during May-August, 1991 (the responses are not any special order):
 
 
Reasons articulated in a paper on �Evangelical Desertion in Costa Rica,� dated July 1992, in IINDEF as part of a series of conferences on �In search of the wayward sheep�:
 
 
Based on a 1978 Gallup Poll in the USA, the reasons given for dropping out of Catholic and Protestant churches were as follows:
 
FACTORS
CATHOLIC RESPONSES
*PROTESTANT RESPONSES
I found other interests and activities that led me to spend less and less time on church-related activities.
39%
35%
I moved to a different community and never got involved in a new church.
25%
30%
I had specific problems with or objections to the church, its teachings, or its members.
35%
24%
My work schedule.
17%
21%
When I grew up and I started making decision on my own, I stopped going to church.
41%
19%
The church was no longer a help to me in finding the meaning and purpose of my life.
25%
15%
I felt my life-style was no longer compatible with participation in a church.
25%
12%
Because of poor health.
4%
11%
Another reason.
5%
10%
I don�t know or no answer.
4%
6%
I became divorced or separated.
7%
4%
TOTAL (multiple responses)
227%
187%
*Table ranked by Protestant Responses
 
A recent public opinion poll in Costa Rica (November 2001), conducted by Demoscop�a, revealed that 17.6% of Costa Ricans (all religions) had abandoned their churches for a variety of reasons during the past generation (14.7% were Catholics and 2.9% were Evangelicals):​
 
        Deception (43%)
        Try something new (11.7%)
        To follow the Truth (11.2%)
        Because they experienced the Holy Spirit in their lives (8.9%)
        Learned to study the Bible (3.3%)
        Their previous religion was corrupt (3.3%)
        Attracted to a new form of worship (2.8%)
        For convenience (1.9%)
        The old religion was too strict (1.9%)
        The old religion was too materialistic (0.9%).
 
6.      According to Demoscop�a (November 2001), the frequency of church attendance by Evangelicals in Costa Rica was as follows:
 
        Several times a week (52.8%)
        Once a week (16.5%)
        Several times a month (11.0%)
        A few times a year or hardly ever (14.2%)
        Never (5.5%)
 
NOTE:​this means that about 20% of those who call themselves Evangelicals are �inactive� or �nominal� in terms of their level of religiosity.
 
7.      What can be done about these problems so that people do not abandon their church?
 
 
8.      Reasons given by Protestant respondents in a USA survey conducted by Edward Rauff in 1979, regarding why they came back to church after an absence of at least five years:
 
 
9.      Where do new members come from (based on Lyle Schaller, 1978, in Hoge, 1981):
 
        Brought by a friend or relative, 60-90%
        Response to visitation-evangelism, 10-25%
        Pastoral ministry, 10-20%
        Come because of program, 4-10%
        Walk in on their own initiative, 3-8%
        Sunday School, 3-6%
 
 
SOURCES:
 
1.Report on a control group of 17 people who were interviewed on 18 August 1989 in the offices of CID-Gallup in Costa Rica.
2.Report on a fieldwork investigation done by 15 seminary students in Costa Rica as part of a course on Christian Ministry, taught by the Rev. Rafael Baltodano at ESEPA during May-August, 1991.
3.Document on �Evangelical Desertion in Costa Rica,� dated July 1992; part of a series of conferences on �In search of the wayward sheep� held at IINDEF.
4.Results of a 1978 Gallup Poll in the USA on desertion by Catholics and Protestants.
5.Results of a survey conducted by Edward Rauff in 1979, Why People Join the Church (Washington, DC: The Pilgrim Press, 1979).
6.Dean R. Hoge, Converts, Dropouts and Returnees:​A Study of Religious Change Among Catholics (​Washington, DC: The Pilgrim Press, 1981).