Weekly Attendance by Non-Church Members (10.14.21)

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Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

This week we’re going to be talking about the number of non-church members who attend church services weekly. This may sound strange since it seems that it’s harder in many places to convince members to show up every week. We’re going to consider some observations about this.

STORY – 1 in 10 Non-Church Members Still Show Up Every Sunday

“Gallup has been asking survey respondents if they are a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque since the mid-1930s. Until 1990, that percentage stayed relatively stable around 70 percent. But from then on, it began to drop precipitously. By 2010, it was 61 percent, and eight years later it was at 50 percent. Then, in 2020, the poll indicated that just 47 percent of Americans were members of a religious body.

“While the Gallup finding is certainly significant, the way that the survey firm poses the question doesn’t line up with how many Americans understand and practice their faith in the 21st century. For a growing number of churches, membership has been deemphasized (if not eliminated altogether) as they try to become more relevant to a younger generation that places less emphasis on attachment to institutions.

“Along with fellow researchers, I wanted to understand how church membership intersects with other measurements of today’s religious faith and practice. We put a survey in the field that asked the same question that Gallup posed, ‘Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque?’ But we also asked a number of other questions that tapped into the various dimensions of the religious experience. The results indicate that membership is not a perfect proxy for an individual’s religiosity.

“According to our survey of just over 1,000 respondents, about half indicated they were members of a church or house of worship, which is largely in line with the finding from Gallup. But looking at the habits of those who were not members, it became clear that many Americans don’t see it necessary to join a church to attend services regularly.

“Nearly a quarter of respondents who were not church members said they attended church at least once a year—these could be people who attend church on special occasions like Christmas, Easter, or baptisms. But about 1 in 10 nonmembers actually go to church every week or more, the level of attendance we might expect among highly committed church members.” (Christianity Today)

Religious Attendance and Membership

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