How Many People Go to Church? The Surprising Truth

How Many People Go to Church? The Surprising Truth

Church attendance in the United States has been declining over the past few decades. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, only 47% of Americans reported attending church in the past week, down from 70% in the 1990s.

But what about the rest of the world? How many people go to church? The answer may surprise you.

The Global Picture

The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2015 to determine the percentage of the world’s population that identifies as Christian and the percentage that attends church regularly. The results were as follows:

Region Percentage of Population that Identifies as Christian Percentage of Christians that Attend Church Weekly
Americas 90% 40%
Europe 71% 18%
Sub-Saharan Africa 63% 66%
Asia-Pacific 7% 4%
Middle East-North Africa 4% 2%

The study found that globally, about a quarter of Christians attend church weekly.

Why People Attend Church

There are a variety of reasons why people choose to attend church. The most common reasons include:

  • To worship and connect with God
  • To feel a sense of community and belonging
  • To learn about and grow in their faith
  • To give back to their community through volunteering and charitable work

However, there are also many factors that can deter people from attending church, such as:

  • A negative past church experience
  • A busy schedule or conflicting commitments
  • A lack of interest or belief in the church’s teachings

Church Attendance in the United States

As previously mentioned, church attendance in the United States has been on the decline. The following statistics provide further insight into the current state of church attendance in the country:

Denomination Trends

According to the 2020 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center:

  • The percentage of Americans who identify as Christian has declined from 78% in 2007 to 63% in 2019.
  • The percentage of religious “nones” (people who identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”) has grown from 16% in 2007 to 26% in 2019.
  • The percentage of adults who attend religious services weekly has declined from 39% in 2007 to 31% in 2019.

Generational Trends

There are also notable generational trends in church attendance in the United States. According to a 2020 study by Barna Group:

  • Only 10% of Generation Z (those born between 1999 and 2015) identify as Christian.
  • Only 2 in 10 Millennials (those born between 1984 and 2002) attend church weekly.
  • More Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) attend church weekly than any other generation.

The Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on church attendance around the world. In-person services were suspended in many places to prevent the spread of the virus, leading many churches to move their services online.

A 2020 study by Barna Group found that:

  • 32% of American churchgoers stopped attending church altogether during the pandemic.
  • 15% of American churchgoers moved to online services.
  • 27% of American churchgoers continued to attend in-person services.
  • 26% of American churchgoers attended a mixture of in-person and online services.

The Future of Church Attendance

The future of church attendance is uncertain, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts predict that the shift to online services could have long-lasting effects on church attendance, while others believe that people will return to in-person services once it is safe to do so.

Only time will tell how many people will continue to attend church in the coming years and what form those services will take.

Conclusion

While church attendance is declining in many parts of the world, there are still millions of people who attend church regularly. The reasons for attending church are varied, and the factors that deter people from attending are just as diverse.

FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about church attendance:

How many people attend church in the United States?

According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 47% of Americans reported attending church in the past week.

What percentage of Christians attend church regularly?

Globally, about a quarter of Christians attend church weekly, according to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center.

Why are people attending church less?

There are many factors that can deter people from attending church, including negative past experiences, schedules, and a lack of interest or belief in the church’s teachings.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected church attendance?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the suspension of in-person church services in many places, with many churches moving their services online instead.

What is the future of church attendance?

The future of church attendance is uncertain, with some experts predicting long-lasting effects from the shift to online services and others believing that people will return to in-person services once it is safe to do so.

References

  • Gallup. (2021). U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time. https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx
  • Pew Research Center. (2015). The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050. https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projection-table/
  • Pew Research Center. (2021). Changing U.S. Religious Landscape. https://www.pewforum.org/2021/02/09/changing-u-s-religious-landscape/
  • Barna Group. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Church Life. https://www.barna.com/research/impact-covid-19-church-life/

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