by Ericka Andersen, USA Today, 3/28/21.
… Attendance at worship in decline
…How eager has the rest of the country been to file back into the pews as churches ticked open nationwide?
Not very. All but 3% of churches in the United States closed their physical doors when the pandemic began last March. As of late 2020,
…Despite the option of in-person attendance, most people still opt out. In large part, that is because of the continued danger of COVID-19, but if habit is any measure, pre-COVID attendance levels may take awhile to resume in a fully vaccinated world.
…Barna, a Christian research firm that has done extensive analysis on church trends amid COVID, found that 79% of practicing Christians went to church weekly before COVID, but that number has dropped to 51% during the pandemic. Another survey found that one in three practicing Christians nationwide had stopped attending church online or in person. When even the “church people” are skipping church, it’s bad.
…Given the data on the comprehensive good that attending religious services brings to society, pre-COVID worshippers must reprioritize faith and urge others to join them if we hope to swiftly revitalize a public oppressed by collective trauma.
As Americans make plans for a post-COVID world, putting church back on the agenda should not be overlooked as a healthy step forward.