Background in Church Attendance
In early April of 2020, Gallup wrote an article entitled “Religion and the COVID-19 Virus in the U.S.” which outlined the megatrends well-established prior to the pandemic. The technology of “Virtual Worship” was already increasing rapidly as an alternative to conventional Sunday morning attendance. They cited a poll done by Pew Research in March documenting that “across Christian groups, half or more of those who typically attend church at least monthly say they have been going less often because of the virus.” Of course, as we look back, March was only in the early stages of what was to become the greatest exodus of church attendance in U.S. history. Christianity Today reported in December of 2020 that “congregational life [has] turned upside down” due to COVID. This is on the heels of, “Southern Baptists See Biggest Drop in 100 Years.” Families are simply not going back to church.
As we stand deep into 2021, looking to put the devastation of the past 20 months behind us, negative trends on church attendance continue. Gallup did a poll published earlier this year stating that for the first time in history US church attendance fell below 50%.
I remain fearful that the deterioration in church attendance, rationalized as due to a transient pandemic, is in fact not a paradigm shift in our culture more than it is an acceleration in trends already firmly established. Well before COVID grabbed the headlines, church attendance was in decline. Christians, both carnal and Biblical, have been losing their backbones and experiencing a weakening in theology for many years.
5 Reasons Families Are Not Going Back
- Fear of COVID, which will go away as the country continues toward herd immunity,
- The closure of church kids’ programs, which have not fully started back up,
- A pattern of laziness that stressed out families have settled into, preferring to stay home rather than return to the hassle of getting ready and physically attending church,
- Acquiescence by church leaders that COVID is an acceptable rational for losing connections with kids/youth/parents,
- Finally, and most significantly, as a country, we no longer expect nor support church involvement as a cultural norm. Sadly, we are losing our way as Americans replace the authority of God and Scripture with human conditional morals and ethics. This trend, somewhat hidden for decades, began in our educational institutions and has now graduated into the workplace and the voting population. Church is seen as unnecessary and unfulfilling for the increasing number of carnal Christians who no longer feel compelled by societal norms to “go through the motions” of church attendance.
The deteriorating trend in church participation we see now has just been the exaggeration of a slow, pervasive movement going on for many years. The fact that COVID never created a revitalized return to God, faith, and spirituality speaks loudly to where we are headed as a nation. Satan could not have had a better formula for merging a trending inflammatory liberal political climate with forced social isolation, governmental overreach and, on a personal level, the invisible fear of exposing our families to a pandemic.
With the trend already well in place, the acceptability of gaining freedom from Sunday mornings and weekly church activities has only exaggerated the loss of attendance.