LifeWay Research: U.S. Churchgoers Say They’ll Return Post-COVID-19

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New LifeWay Research prepares leaders for church after COVID-19.

Churchgoers aren’t attending yet at pre-pandemic levels, but most say they value gathering with their congregation and are anxious to do so when the threat of COVID-19 ends.

A study of 1,000 Protestant churchgoers in the U.S. from Nashville-based Lifeway Research found, when COVID-19 is no longer an active threat to people’s health, 91% plan to attend in-person worship services at least as often as they did before the coronavirus pandemic. That includes almost a quarter (23%) who plan to attend more than they did previously.

Few regular churchgoers say they will attend less than before (6%), rarely attend (2%) or stop attending in-person services completely (1%).

Almost all churchgoers (94%) say they greatly value the times they can attend worship services in person with others from their church. Few (4%) disagree.

Two-thirds of pastors whose churches were open for in-person worship in January saw attendance of less than 70% of their January 2020 attendance,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “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.”

Young adult churchgoers, those 18 to 29, are the most likely to say they will attend church more often after COVID-19 than they did before (43%).

Evangelicals by belief are more likely than those without evangelical beliefs to say they will attend more after the pandemic (28% to 19%).

Church Involvement

Almost 9 in 10 churchgoers (87%) stuck with the same church throughout the pandemic. Few say they switched to another church in the same area (5%), switched churches because of a move (3%), or no longer have a church they consider their own …

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