1. More than 40% of people claim to attend weekly church services—but research has indicated that less than 20% actually do attend weekly church services.
2. Only 27% of millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis.
3. Between 2007 and 2014, there was a 3.7% decline in weekly church attendance (based on poll respondents). Meanwhile, the U.S. population increased by over 16 million during that same time frame.
As Mark Twain once famously stated, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” Here at Stretch, our expertise is live streaming—not data analysis. So it’s hard to say with certainty what these church attendance statistics indicate. There are countless reasons why church attendance might be declining in the U.S. today. (And there are certainly some encouraging church attendance statistics out there, so all is not lost!)
That being said, it’s important to understand what these church attendance statistics could mean for the growing number of modern, progressive churches out there. There are several big-picture takeaways we can discuss that may be contributing to these church attendance trends. Let’s dig a little deeper….
A Couple Takeaways From These Church Attendance Statistics
1. Church services are evolving—and technology should be a part of that.
According to a 2011 LifeWay Research study, 75% of protestant churches have a website—but less than half of those “use their sites for interactive purposes.” Additionally, Tyndale University conducted a study on technology in churches and found that 46% of church leaders discourage the use of technology at their church. And no, the study did not take place exclusively in the town from Footloose (all due respect to John Lithgow).
If only 27% of millennials are attending regular church services—and church attendance has slowly been declining in recent years—isn’t it entirely possible that the hesitancy to embrace technology could be a contributing factor?
That’s not to say that all churches fall into the same bucket. Many modern churches are seeing the upside to incorporating technology in their services and are making an effort to integrate new technologies. According to this Christianity Today article, technology can and should be used to further the mission of the church, because it enables:
- Better communication: “Technology enables the congregation easily to have direct communication with me, and I can have communication with them on a broader and a clearer scale.”
- A greater sense of community: “Technology allows a greater sense of community that doesn’t demand proximity. Proximity isn’t required for community.”
2. There are folks who genuinely would like to or intend to attend church service, but are not currently doing so.
There are a million things that could get in the way of someone attending regular church services— sickness, work circumstances, vacation, or those pesky football games every Sunday morning…the list goes on and on. But as a church in the modern age, you need to think outside of the church walls.
Consider the following ways to reach out to congregants and community members who are not currently attending church for any of the reasons listed above:
- Use social media to keep the community up to speed on all church-sponsored activities. This may encourage those who can’t attend a weekend service to attend another event and become part of the church community.
- Have a church member tweet key messages, passages, or notes from your church service each week.
- Allow people to submit prayer requests on your website.
- Post your sermon notes online along with audio or video archives of your weekly service. This will allow people to participate in service at their convenience if they can’t attend in person.
- Live stream your church services online. For a church who faces budget or staff constraints, this can sound daunting—but with a few tools and a basic understanding of live streaming, you can get started in no time.
These ideas can be a bit intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never tried them before. If live streaming interests you, be sure to check out this free guide. In it, you’ll find detailed, easy-to-follow steps for live streaming, tips on how to live stream if you’re working solo (or with a small staff), and popular camera and encoder options that will fit every budget.
Questions? Let’s chat! We stream more than 60,000 live events every year and would be happy to answer whatever questions you have.