by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A new study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research shows that many US churches with aging members are struggling to attract young people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns, the Christian Post (CP) reports. The study is based on responses gathered from 4,809 churches across 58 denominational groups between January and May 2023.
The Hartford Institute study showed that about a third of the churches surveyed said their attendance has increased since the pandemic began in 2020, but over half said they have seen a slight to severe decrease in attendance, CP reports.
Notably, a significant number of churches said that, even before the pandemic, their clergy and members numbered increasingly in the over-65 age group. “Christian churches and their leaders are significantly older as a result of having insufficient representation from younger generations,” the study reported.
“During these three time periods, the percentage of attendees under the age of 35 (all children, youth, and young adults) decreased from 37% in 2020, to 35% in 2021, and to 32% in 2023,” the study said.
In particular, the study further noted that churches have not shown a “willingness to change to meet new challenges” in attracting new, younger members since the pandemic. “This is especially troubling because this measure indicated a greater inclination in 2021 post-pandemic churches to do what was necessary to adapt compared to pre-pandemic responses, with nearly 50% strongly agreeing to that attitude,” the study reported. “But by 2023, both the total congregations in agreement and those strongly in agreement had dropped significantly and are now below where they were in early 2020.”
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