Church attendance plummets in a year

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A new poll from Lifeway Research revealed the number of churches meeting in person dropped 11% between the end of September and the end of January.

Even worse, of the churches meeting in person, many are reporting significant drops in attendance:

  • 31% of pastors said attendance was half what it was in January 2020.
  • 31% said attendance had fallen 30 to 50 percent in a year.
  • 33% indicated that attendance remained between 70% and 100% of the numbers recorded in January 2020.
  • Only 2% of pastors said their church’s attendance had grown since COVID restrictions forced the cancellation of live services.

Almost four in 10 legacy Protestant churches did not meet at all in person this January, while only 12% of evangelical churches failed to gather for a service.

It’s really bad news for children and their parents. Just one-third of programs targeting middle and high school students are meeting in person, as are just 25% of ministry programs for elementary-age students.

The cynic in me suspects this has been one of the goals of government shutdowns since the very beginning of the COVID panic, and a reason why restrictions have remained in place for more than a year. I feel that way knowing people can be in relatively close contact with each other at the neighborhood Walmart, but they can’t meet at church.

The ability to practice one’s faith is just as essential for soul care as groceries are for body care. The Bible commands us to keep meeting together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “….consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Christian parents who must work from home while helping their children attend classes online have no break at all if the families can’t attend a church service or participate in Sunday school activities.

It’s especially disheartening that America has been locked down for for more than a year for an illness with a proven 99.6% complete recovery rate, and one for which fewer than 9% of the American population has been sick enough to even seek a test for COVID.

When did “two weeks to flatten the curve” morph into everything must remain shutdown until COVID is completely eradicated?

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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