Lifeway Study: One Year In, Only 75% of Churches Gathering for Services

A new study from Lifeway Research found that 25 percent of churches did not meet in person in the month of January, and of the ones that did meet, practically none are near pre-pandemic level, with 1 in 3 pastors reporting that their current Sunday service attendance is half what it used to be before the national lockdowns in March 2020.

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research explains that “churches continue to evaluate when to meet in person based on local conditions and cases within their congregation. Even when a church determines it’s safe to meet, their individual members will return on their own timetable.”

The study further found that 88 percent say that a church attendee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 29 percent say a member has died from it. Small groups have been decimated, with 40 percent no longer meeting. Children’s ministries have followed suit, with only 25% of churches having exclusively in-person activities.

With the odds of young, healthy people dying from COVID-19 being infinitesimally small, there is simply no excuse for churches to remain closed and congregants to be staying away. If your church is not open yet, it is time to leave that church. And unless a church member has very real co-morbidities and tangible health challenges, it is time to enact church discipline on wayward members who still are not gathering for either in-person services or drive-in services.


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