Fewer churches hold in-person services now than at end of last summer, and attendance is way down for those that are open

A new poll from Lifeway Research revealed that though most Protestant churches have continued to meet despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the share of churches meeting now is down significantly from the end of last summer.

According to Lifeway, 87% of Protestant pastors said their churches were meeting in person last September. That number dropped 11 points to 76% in January.

Compounding the bad news, churches that are meeting in person have reported markedly lower attendance numbers.

Nearly a third (31%) of pastors told Lifeway that their attendance in January 2021 is less than half of what it was just one year ago.

More than a third of pastors (37%) said their current congregations are between 50% and 70% of their January 2020 sizes.

Another 3 in 10 said their weekly numbers were between 70% and 100% of last year’s numbers.

Just 2% said their churches’ attendance has grown since the start of the pandemic.

The survey reported that 39% of mainline pastors said their churches did not meet in January, while just 12% of evangelical pastors said the same.

Impact on kids

Lifeway’s poll also showed that kids’ lives are being disrupted more than just when it comes to schools being closed. Children’s and student ministries programs have also been heavily impacted, with about half of churches moving to online-only for ministry to kids and teens — or cancelling the ministries altogether.

About one-third (32%) of youth ministry and a quarter (25%) of kids’ ministry programs are conducting all activities in person. Another 25% of youth ministries and 24% of kids’ ministries are doing some activities in person.

More than a fifth (22%) of student programming and a fifth (21%) of children’s programming is happening only online.

A fifth (21%) of churches said they have held no activities — online or in-person — for students. And a third (30%) said the same of kids’ activities.

(H/T: The Christian Post)

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Author: Chris Field


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