How Important is Church Attendance?
How important is church attendance? Americans are split on the issue, according to a new study by the Barna Research Group. Half (49%) say it is “somewhat” or “very” important; the other half (51%) say it “is not too” or “not at all” important.
In fact, when nearly 4,500 respondents in the study were asked what helps them grow in their faith, church attendance was not even mentioned as one of the top ten reasons.
Why do Americans attend church services? The top two reasons cited were to be closer to God (44%) and to learn about God (27%). Only 10 percent of respondents said they were looking for community.
Why do people not attend church services? The two top answers were that they find God elsewhere (40%) and church is not relevant to them personally (35%).
The study revealed differences between generations of people. 40 percent of people over 68 years old view church attendance as very important, but only 20 percent of those 30 and under believe it is important. Millennials do not attend church for three main reasons: irrelevance, hypocrisy, and the moral failures of church leaders. 20 percent of Millennials feel that God is missing in church.
What can the church learn from this study? First of all, we need to find ways to make the church more relevant to people’s lives. We need to offer help to people who are hurting, marginalized or lonely. We need to stop judging people but accept them like Jesus accepted us. He died for us while we were sinners (Rom. 5:6). Additionally, we need to be more authentic in both our relationships with people and in the church gathering.
Jon Tyson writes about what this data means for Americans in Frames: Sacred Roots. He says in the video below, “We crave to be loved; we crave to be known; we craved to be accepted. If we don’t find that in a community of grace, where else are we going to find it in the world?”
What else can we learn from this study?