A new study from Lifeway Research found that there are six main reasons why Americans who attend a religious service at a Protestant or non-denominational church at least monthly will skip a worship service.
The study said worshippers will skip church to avoid severe weather, to enjoy an outdoor activity in good weather, to get extra sleep, to meet friends, to avoid traveling when it’s raining or to watch sports.
Just 11 percent of Protestant churchgoers said they would not skip for any of those reasons, and 22 percent said they would never skip for any of those options except for severe weather.
“Churchgoers are not on autopilot. Each week they are faced with a choice of whether to attend church, and there is more than one tradeoff when it comes to this decision,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.
Of the respondents, 77 percent said they would miss a weekly service at least once a year to avoid traveling in severe weather, 55 percent said they would skip to enjoy an outdoor activity, and 54 percent said they would skip to get more sleep.
About 50 percent said they would skip to meet a friend or group of friends, and 43 percent said they’d skip service if it was raining. About 42 percent said they would skip to watch a sporting event or their favorite sports team.
“Sometimes churchgoers conclude it’s safer to skip church and not be on the roads,” said McConnell. “But many will also skip church if they feel they have a better option.
“There is a good reason some churches are in the habit of noting the weather conditions when they record their worship attendance,” said McConnell. “The weather, both good and bad, is part of the decision-making process for many churchgoers.”
The study also found:
- Americans under 50 are more likely to skip service to enjoy an outdoor activity
- 10 percent of respondents said they skip service about once a year to sleep in, and 26 percent said they skip service about twice a year to sleep in.
- 3 in 5 respondents said they would never skip a worship service because it was raining.
- Presbyterians are the least likely to say they’d ever miss church for one of the six reasons.
- Methodists were the most likely to say the same.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cold Snowstorm
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.