Maybe this is slightly tangent, but these are some impressions I’ve gotten here in the US, specifically the Midwest, among the laity:
The lay community is composed of four types: Asian immigrants for whom Buddhism is a cultural affair, faith followers who (usually) took a Goenka course, teachers, and serious, often intellectual types.
The immigrants don’t really care about suttas or study. They’re there for social functions. They consider ordination but for all the wrong reasons.
The faith followers don’t really care about suttas or study. They tend to believe whatever they’re told by their local sect and any discussion about suttas, commentaries, or the like could even potentially contradict what their local sect teaches makes them really uncomfortable. They tend to either have irregular practices or if it is consistent, it’s only 30m or so a day. They’re not generally considering ordination.
Most lay teachers are forming their own ideas and trying to present them to a Western audience, but they do tend to have a broad affiliation of some sort (Theravada/jhana practice, or maybe Soto Zen). They’re not teaching from a traditional perspective as they (rightly) assume that Western audiences would reject much of the traditional approaches found in Asia. Folks in this group are not considering ordination at all and they tend to have regular practices. There’s one notable exception to this group: teachers in the Goenka tradition. Given the quarks of that particular organization, teachers here are not really teachers so much, but tend to be more facilitators and fall more into the faith follower category. Their training seems to be very regimented and specific. I’ve sat in a lot of student interviews and maybe only 1 out of every 50 wasn’t some variant of “return to the meditation object and keep working, you can do it!”
The serious intellectual types are typically not dedicated to a specific sect. This is the group that cares about suttas and commentaries. Folks in this group typically feel adrift and uncomfortable about not being dedicated to a specific sect. But it’s really hard for them to settle down because they see faults in all the sects, they see faults in the canons of the whole world of Buddhism as they’re typically aware of the scholarly work/Bhikkhu Analayo, and they are desperate to resolve all these inner contradictions. Their practice either tends to be very irregular or very dedicated (2+ hours a day) but not much in between. They’re often considering ordination.
The last group is particularly interesting imo, and it’s one I belong to, but I’ve met tons of other folks that fall into this category. Folks in this group really want to find a path to follow vigorously and seriously but they have a lot of objections to file through. Many of these objections are the result of a Western background, but a lot of it is just honestly that the information is so much more available and there’s less opportunity for information and tradition silos to occur.
This last group has a wide range of approaches to attempt to resolve the internal doubts and difficulties each individual feels. One such approach is to strictly follow only what the Buddha taught, as the Buddha is a reliable source and any later developments are loaded with cultural baggage. It’s this group that will be “sutta only” followers. And of course there’s a lot of problems with this approach, not least of which is determining a canon, as folks in this set are going to be really interested in authenticity and may throw out a lot of suttas that are in the Theravadan canon based off current scholarship/hermeneutics, and the fact that the Buddha himself taught within a specific cultural context and there’s some things, like the treatment of women, that are likely to be unacceptable to a modern Western audience. In any case, cherry picking of some sort has to occur and there’s going to be pros and cons to every approach.
Another approach folks take is to rely on their own experience and what can be shown to them in their practice or through simple reasoning. This group tends to care less about tracing back suttas to the Buddha and tends toward lots of skepticism. They accept the general idea behind Buddhism but after that you have to “prove it” for them to believe it. For this reason they tend to be just as well-read in the Mahayana as Theravada and will readily borrow ideas from there…or anywhere really. They resolve the internal contradiction through the Kalama Sutta or even Rhinoceros Sutta.
Most of the folks in this fourth group don’t ever resolve the internal contradiction though. They float from sect to sect and author to author until they give up on Buddhism, ordain in a tradition but disrobe after their doubts just simply follow them, or fall into a private practice. Their cycle is to get really interested in some approach, Rinzai Zen for example, and dive into it just to leave feeling disappointed when they see how it works in the real world. Zen tends to hold special appeal for this group as it appears to be iconoclastic and to take a very pragmatic, “whatever works” approach but then they get into it and find that it’s really regimented, not open-minded at all, and the teachers have not transcended suffering or even simple bad behavior.
So ya, there you go. This is just my impression of the lay community here in the US. Those that follow only suttas are not really common among that group, but there are a few. I might suggest really considering that Buddhism is mostly failing its Western practitioners. There’s a lot of good to be done in resolving the mess.