US: Return to in-person church has stalled
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – While almost all US churches have now reopened, and more are dispensing with pandemic protocols like social distancing, new figures from the Pew Research Center show that the percentage of churchgoers returning to in-person services has stalled since September last year, Christianity Today (CT) reports.
According to Pew Research data gathered in March this year, 67% of people who attend church at least once a month say they have returned to in-person services: this is only a slight increase from 64% in September 2021, CT reports.
The Pew report shows that while 75% of evangelical Protestants had returned to in-person church attendance by March this year, that figure is a small increase from 72% in September, CT said. The figures for Black Protestants are significantly lower, with even fewer having returned in March (48%) than they had in September last year (50%).
Noting that stalled attendance figures may be symptomatic of a deeper crisis in churches, CT reports that an American Family Survey taken last year showed Black churchgoers, older adults, and couples without children at home were the least likely to return to church, CT noted.
“We have to retrain people from the beginning on why you should bother to assemble,” Collin Hansen, author of Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential said in a statement. “I think pastors take that for granted and are going to be surprised how many people never had that vision to begin with and never come back once the all-clear is given.”
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