More than 90 percent of Protestant churchgoers say they plan on attending their house of worship after the pandemic is over at least as frequently as they did pre-pandemic, according to a new Lifeway Research survey that also found that a majority of churchgoers say they grew closer to God during the past year.
The poll of 1,000 American Protestant churchgoers, released Tuesday, found that 68 percent say they’ll attend in-person with the same frequency as they did before Covid-19, while 23 percent say they’ll attend more often.
All total, 91 percent of churchgoers plan on either attending at the same rate or more often. Only 6 percent say they’ll go to church less often.
Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said the survey’s results are good news for pastors and churches who experienced lower-than-normal attendance in January.
“Two-thirds of pastors whose churches were open for in-person worship in January saw attendance of less than 70 percent of their January 2020 attendance,” McConnell said in a Lifeway analysis of the data. “Many of these pastors are wondering if those who haven’t returned ever will. Nine in 10 churchgoers plan to when it is safe to do so.”
Among young adults ages 18 to 29, 43 percent say they'll attend church more often than they did prior to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of all churchgoers say they’ve grown “closer to God” during the pandemic. Twenty-seven percent say they’ve become “much” closer to God.
Among other findings:
- 87 percent of churchgoers attend the same church as they did in January 2021.
- 5 percent have switched to a new church in their area.
- 83 percent watched at least one streamed service in place of an in-person service during the past year.
- 32 percent watched at least 18 streamed services in the past year – an eight-fold increase from similar data in 2019.
“The faith of most churchgoers remains resilient despite a year filled with much uncertainty and fewer options for meeting in person with others from church,” McConnell said.
The poll was conducted Feb. 5-18.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christin Lola
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.