This is the sixth in a series of articles examining Gallup's nine items of spiritual commitment.
Last week's article dealt with the last of the four attitudinal items of spiritual commitment. This week, I will begin to look at the spiritual commitment items that measure behavior. According to Gallup research, the items that best measure spiritually committed behavior are:
- I spend time in worship or prayer every day.
- Because of my faith, I have forgiven people who have hurt me deeply.
- My faith has called me to develop my given strengths.
- I will take unpopular stands to defend my faith.
- I speak words of kindness to those in need of encouragement.
The graph below illustrates the way that members of religious faith communities rated the first item, "I spend time in worship or prayer every day," in a 2001 Gallup survey*. A plurality of respondents (45%) strongly agrees with this statement, scoring it a 5 on a scale of 5 = strongly agree to 1 = strongly disagree.
Gallup's research shows that individuals of all faiths who are highly spiritually committed spend time in worship, prayer or meditation not once or twice a week, but every single day. Establishing this type of spiritual discipline is critical to the growth of such individuals, and is a priority in their daily lives.
This time of spiritual reflection varies in how it is practiced. Some individuals begin their day with half an hour of devotional reading followed by silent prayer; others end their day with meditation and reading from a prayer book; still others listen to inspirational tapes or CDs in their car and use their morning or evening commute as a time of reflection. Some individuals do this alone, preferring solitude in their quest for spiritual growth. Others share their daily prayer time with another person or group of people. The essential point is not how they do it, but that they do it -- every single day.
When setting expectations for your congregation, focus on the outcomes, not the steps. In this instance, the outcome to encourage among your members is a time of prayer, meditation or worship every day. How they achieve that outcome is up to them as individuals, depending upon their personalities.
The SE25 items are protected by copyright of The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ, 2001. All rights reserved.
*Results are based on telephone interviews with 729 adult members of a church, synagogue, or other religious faith community, aged 18 and older, conducted October through November 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3.6%.