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U.S. Church Attendance Drops – Pandemic or Something Else?

The Gospel Coalition published an article late last month citing statistics on the recent decline in attendance at places of worship. Data collected from three different surveys and/or data collection studies corroborate the general conclusion that church attendance was trending downwardly long before the COVID-19 pandemic was a thing. One of the studies found “[T] the only groups to boost attendance over the past five years were non-Christian congregations: Muslim, Baha’i and Jewish.”

After executing a similar analysis (National Congregation Study), Mark Chaves, professor of sociology, religious studies and divinity at Duke University states, “One of the meta narratives of the last several decades is mainline decline and evangelical health. … It’s clear in recent years there’s been a decline in evangelical churches as well. Mainline decline is not unique.”

What’s the significance?

Many worshippers would agree that church attendance is foundational to Christian life. The book of Hebrews states meeting together can help produce love and good works among the gathered and meeting together should not be neglected (Hebrews 10:24-25). Faithfulness and perseverance in the faith are also cultivated by regular church attendance. Another significant finding is consistent church attendance has multiple physical and mental health benefits as cited by multiple independent studies, including the Harvard School of Public Health.

Read more from Joe Carter, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, who wrote, Don’t Blame the Pandemic for Low Church Attendance:

The Story: Church attendance has been declining since the pandemic. But has the pandemic simply exacerbated a trend we hadn’t noticed?


The Background: According to several recent surveys and polls, church attendance has been on the decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Data collected in the summer of 2020 by Barna found that about one-third of practicing Christians (32 percent) “have dropped out of church for the time being.” A Gallup poll taken last March also found that, for the first time in eight decades, Americans’ membership in houses of worship dropped below 50 percent. Only 47 percent of adults in the United States claimed to be a member of a church, mosque, or synagogue, a 23-point decline since 2000.


A recent analysis by the Institute for Family Studies using data from the American Family Survey finds that religious attendance has also declined significantly in the past two years. According to the analysis, Americans who are young or old are more likely than those in the middle age groups to have experienced a drop in their church attendance.

Read the full article here.

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