GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Church average attendance has dropped from 137 in 2000 to 65 today! Here’s a chart and links to best practices to address that …

by Bob Whitsel D.Min., Ph.D., 7/25/22.

Generally the church has declined from an average of one 137 attendees, 20 years ago to 65 attendees today.  Below is a chart that illustrates that. This means if you were involved in a church 20 years ago, either as a pastor or attendee, you would see the average church drop to 50% smaller than it was!  That’s scary for many congregants.  

But, it’s important that people understand this is a societal motor (yet something we as leaders must address). However, this drop is not fully the fault of the local church. A church can remain comparatively plateaued, but be declining in attendance because of societal motors.

Here’s the handouts from the seminar, “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” with field-tested solutions. And here is a visual from that seminar on the “average” sized church according to the Hartford Institute’s American Religious Identification Survey (one of the most exhaustive surveys available today).

handouts-coker-church-c2a9whitesel-growing-post-pandemic-churchDownload

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & People’s return to in-person worship services has stalled. There has been virtually no change in average attendance since August 2021… 1 in 4 pre-pandemic churchgoers are still missing from in-person worship services. #LifeWay

“Churches Still Recovering From Pandemic Losses” by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Research, 3/1/22

More than 8 in 10 churches have an attendance of at least half of what it was prior to the pandemic. The average U.S. Protestant church reports attendance at 74% of what it was prior to COVID-19, which means 1 in 4 pre-pandemic churchgoers are still missing from in-person worship services.

“People’s return to in-person worship services has stalled,” said McConnell. “There has been virtually no change in average attendance since August 2021. Some of this is the direct impact of COVID with people getting sick, needing to quarantine or being at high risk. But this also likely includes healthy individuals choosing to not return.”

Read more at … https://research.lifeway.com/2022/03/01/churches-still-recovering-from-pandemic-losses/

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Only 8 percent of young U.S. Catholics said their faith was weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, but nearly one-third expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic than they had before.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by our Catholic colleagues supports previous research that people under the age of 55 say they are less likely to attend an on-site church in the future, preferring online church instead. Take note of this corroborating research. Then strengthen your online ministry – because that is where most of the younger generations are building relationships.

Survey: A third of young Catholics expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic

by Robert David Sullivan, America: The Jesuit Review, November 10, 2021

Only 8 percent of young U.S. Catholics (ages 18 to 35) said their faith was weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a national survey released on Nov. 9 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, but nearly one-third expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic than they had before. Perhaps of greater concern to the church, 73 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday. And only 39 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could never imagine themselves leaving the Catholic Church.

The survey indicated that 13 percent of Catholic young adults attended Mass at least once a week before the Covid-19 pandemic, and 6 percent of respondents said they had been “very” involved with parish activities other than attending Mass. The crisis of Catholic clergy sexually abusing minors was the most frequently given reason for not being more active in parish life.

Read more at … https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/11/10/cara-survey-young-american-catholics-241803?

ATTENDANCE & Gen Z is keeping the faith. Just don’t expect to see them at worship. Young people’s trust in religious institutions is low, but trust in relationships with religious people is still extremely high.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’m delivering Sunday sermons on how to use the #RomansRoad to equip congregants to one-on-one share their faith. The following research indicates that that may be the best way to reach the next generation.

Religion News Service, September 23, 2021 by Josh Packard, Casper ter Kuile

Given the decline in attendance at houses of worship and the so-called rise of nones, it might come as a surprise that the majority of young people say they are spiritual and/or religious. According to those who participated in Springtide Research Institute’s State of Religion and Young People 2020, 78% of people ages 13-25 consider themselves at least slightly spiritual, including 60% of unaffiliated young people (atheists, agnostics and nones). And 71% say they are at least slightly religious, including 38% of the unaffiliated.

The coming generation may be investing more in faith because of stress and loss. After a year navigating the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020-2021), over a third of young people (35%) said their faith became stronger, while only 11% said their faith became weaker (half said their faith remained steady). Even more, 46% started new religious or spiritual practices during this time, far more than the 27% who stopped some religious or practices.

The caveat for anyone hoping to turn Gen Z into the generation that came back to church is that while today’s young people take what they find useful in faith traditions, this group has significant trust issues when it comes to formal religious institutions. Asked to rate their trust of organized religion on a 10-point scale, 63% of young people answered 5 or below, including 52% of those who say they’re affiliated with a religious tradition.

You read that right: Over half of young people who claim a religious affiliation have little trust in the very religious institutions with which they identify.

Where trust in religious institutions is low, however, trust in relationships with people in those institutions is extremely high.

Faith leaders who want to appeal to Gen Z need to focus on gaining trust through relationship rather than relying on their institutional authority — their title, role or accomplishments. To be sure, Gen Z members respect expertise, so long as it is combined with genuine care and concern for their well-being — an approach Springtide calls relational authority.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/09/23/gen-z-is-keeping-the-faith-just-dont-expect-to-see-them-at-worship/?

POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & 4 out of 5 churches have returned to in-person services, with attendance levels hovering around 36% of normal capacity.

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.

Read more at … https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/03/28/how-attending-church-during-holy-week-can-boost-your-mental-health-column/4764317001/

ATTENDANCE & Research shows going to church during Holy Week (and beyond) is good for your mental health.

by Ericka Andersen, USA Today, 3/28/21.

… A recent Gallup survey found that those who have prioritized weekly attendance at worship services throughout the pandemic have emerged — not merely unscathed — but mentally improved. Weekly worshippers reported a 4-percentage point increase in their mental health. Every other sub-group went negative.

Regardless of race, age, political affiliation, gender or income, only those who consistently attended religious services each week (online or in person) are happier today than they were a year ago when COVID-19 began to capsize the globe. 

This lines up with historical research on mental health and church attendance. Broad-based evidence demonstrates that attendance at worship services is indispensable to a happy, generous and flourishing society.

Pew Research found that actively religious adults are more likely to be happy, volunteer time to good causes and be more civically involved than non-religious or non-practicing religious folks.

Other studies, like one from the National Library of Medicine, provide evidence that regular churchgoers live longer, happier lives.

Read more at … https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/03/28/how-attending-church-during-holy-week-can-boost-your-mental-health-column/4764317001/

TRENDS & Among older and younger Americans, men tend to trend more atheist than women. But between the ages of 35 and 45 the genders converge. See the graph.

By , The Conversation, 2/17/21.

Faith in numbers: Behind the gender difference of nonreligious Americans

… According to data from the Nationscape survey, which polled over 6,000 respondents every week for 18 months in the runup to the 2020 election, men are in general more likely than women to describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. The survey, conducted by the independent Democracy Fund in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, was touted as one of the largest such opinion polls ever conducted.

However, tracking the gender gap by age reveals that at one point the gap between men and women narrows. Between the ages of 30 and 45, men are no more likely to be religiously unaffliated than women of the same age. 

But the gap appears again among older Americans. Over the age of 60, men are 5 to 8 percentage points more likely to express no religious affiliation.

Read more at … https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VjOvW/2/

ATTENDANCE & “Never on Sunny Days.” Researchers confirm what pastors know: people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right.

“Never on Sunny Days: Lessons from Weekly Attendance Counts”

by Laurence R. Iannaccone and Sean F. Everton, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion Vol. 43, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 191-207 (17 pages) Published By: Wiley https://www.jstor.org/stable/1388122

Abstract

Congregational attendance data are abundant, accessible, and relevant for religious research. Weekly attendance histories provide information about worshippers, congregations, and denominations that surveys cannot capture. The histories yield novel measures of commitment, testable implications of rational choice theory, and compelling evidence that attendance responds strongly to changes in the opportunity cost of time.

Access the article here … https://www.jstor.org/stable/1388122?seq=1

ATTENDANCE FREQUENCY & In 1972, nearly one third (32.8%) of Christians attended church 1+ times a week. In 2018, this dropped in half to 16.8%. #ARDAresearch

By Ryan Burge, American Religious Data Archives, 3/30/20.

Sometimes a simple graph tells the story.

In 1972, nearly one third of the American population (32.8%) were white Christians who attended church nearly once a week or more.

In 2018, their share of the population had dropped in half to 16.8%.

Tweeted by ARDA, The American Religious Data Archive. https://twitter.com/ryanburge/status/1244727413659045888?s=21

ATTENDANCE & Over half of pastors (54%) said their online attendance was higher than their usual in-person attendance … with fully 1 in 4 reporting it was “much higher,” according to #Barna data.

“Higher attendance, lower giving: Survey shows how churches are responding to COVID-19” by Emily MacFarland Miller, Religion News Service, 3/31/20.

…Barna surveyed 434 senior and executive pastors online using its Barna Church Pulse tool, starting one week after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency related to the pandemic; 222 pastors responded between March 20 and 23, and another 212 between March 27 and 30.

… Most have moved those services online. Even churches that hadn’t been online previously are trying it out to reach their congregants at home: While 32% of churches were not offering any digital options in the first week, that number had shrunk to 7% by the second week, Kinnaman pointed out.

Just over half of pastors (54%) said their online attendance was higher than their usual in-person attendance this past Sunday (March 29), with fully 1 in 4 reporting it was “much higher,” according to Barna data.

But nearly 8 in 10 (79%) said financial giving is down, with nearly half (47%) reporting it is down “significantly.”j

Still, almost all of the pastors surveyed (95%) felt confident their churches would survive and said they haven’t made any changes to their staffing (71%).

“The church is adapting to the new normal, and they’re starting to use the language about the indefinite future, about working remotely,” Kinnaman said.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/03/30/higher-attendance-lower-giving-new-survey-shows-how-churches-are-responding-to-covid-19/

ATTENDANCE & Understanding the Concept of Attendance Frequency as Explained by #ThomRainer

by Thom Rainer, “One Key Reason Many Churches Are Fighting Attendance Declines,” 12/13/19.

We hear more and more about attendance frequency becoming a pain point for many churches. After over a decade of having this conversation, Thom and Sam discuss the one key reason many churches are still fighting attendance declines.

Highlights:

    • Revisiting the Concept of Attendance Frequency
    • The Priority/Expectations Factor
    • The Weekend Worker Demographic
    • The Focus on Us Instead of Them
    • Groups, groups, groups

Other highlights:

    • For the church to exist it must gather.
    • One of three people in the U.S. workforce is unable to attend a Sunday morning service due to a work conflict.
    • The gig and entrepreneurial economy are having an impact on church attendance.
    • Personal preferences always kill priorities.
    • Group involvement can have a huge impact on church frequency.

Listen to the podcast here: https://thomrainer.com/2019/12/one-key-reason-many-churches-are-fighting-attendance-declines-update/

TRENDS & 73% of American churches are declining & we are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches (from 12% to 3%) and a marked increase in churches declining toward death (10% to 19%). #LifeWay

by Thom Rainer, LifeWay, 6/3/19.

Based upon an aggregate of several research projects, I made some notes of growth and decline rates of churches and summarized my estimates into five categories by worship attendance changes over the previous five-year period. I compiled the following numbers ten years ago:

Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2009

  • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 12%
  • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 23%
  • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 34%
  • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 21%
  • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 10%

This past week I conducted the same exercise based on some of my updated research and the research of others and estimated the following:

Growth and Decline Categories of North American Congregations 2019

  • Fast-growing (growing greater than 5% annually): 3%
  • Growing (growing nominally to 5% annually): 24%
  • Steadily declining (declining 0% to 3% annually): 32%
  • Rapidly declining (declining 2% to 5% annually): 22%
  • Declining toward death (over 5% decline annually): 19%

My numbers admittedly are estimates, but they do have some quantitative basis, such as denominational statistics, research by LifeWay Research, and the data available in the increasing number of consultation and coaching requests we receive.

Obviously, the staggering reality of these numbers is the pronounced change in the two extreme categories. We are seeing a marked decline in fast-growing churches and a marked increase in churches declining toward death.

Read more at … https://thomrainer.com/2019/06/the-faster-pace-of-decline-toward-death-of-many-congregations/

ATTENDANCE & Most Young Adults Drop Out of Church Between Ages 18-22 For These Reasons #LifeWayResearch

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 2/18/19.

… Two-thirds (66 percent) of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Thirty-four percent say they continued to attend twice a month or more.

While the 66 percent may be troubling for many church leaders, the numbers may appear more hopeful when compared to a 2007 study from LifeWay Research. Previously, 70 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds left church for at least one year.

“The good news for Christian leaders is that churches don’t seem to be losing more students than they were 10 years ago. However, the difference in the dropout rate now and then is not large enough statistically to say it has actually improved,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“The reality is that Protestant churches continue to see the new generation walk away as young adults. Regardless of any external factors, the Protestant church is slowly shrinking from within.”

When They Drop Out

The dropout rate for young adults accelerates with age, the study found.

While 69 percent say they were attending at age 17, that fell to 58 percent at age 18 and 40 percent at age 19. Once they reach their 20s, around 1 in 3 say they were attending church regularly.

“Overall Protestant churches see many teenagers attending regularly only for a season. Many families just don’t attend that often,” said McConnell.

“As those teenagers reach their late teen years, even those with a history of regular church attendance are pulled away as they get increased independence, a driver’s license, or a job. The question becomes: will they become like older adults who have all those things and still attend or will students choose to stay away longer than a year.”

Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay, said those numbers speak to the issue at hand. “We are seeing teenagers drop out of the church as they make the transition out of high school and student ministry,” he said. “This moment of transition is often too late to act for churches.”

Why They Drop Out

Virtually all of those who dropped out (96 percent) listed a change in their life situation as a reason for their dropping out. Fewer say it was related to the church or pastor (73 percent); religious, ethical or political beliefs (70 percent); or the student ministry (63 percent).

The five most frequently chosen specific reasons for dropping out were: moving to college and no longer attending (34 percent); church members seeming judgmental or hypocritical (32 percent); no longer feeling connected to people in their church (29 percent); disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues (25 percent); and work responsibilities (24 percent).

Almost half (47 percent) of those who dropped out and attended college say moving to college played a role in their no longer attending church for at least a year.

“Most of the reasons young adults leave the church reflect shifting personal priorities and changes in their own habits,” said McConnell. “Even when churches have faithfully communicated their beliefs through words and actions, not every teenager who attends embraces or prioritizes those beliefs.”

Among all those who dropped out, 29 percent say they planned on taking a break from church once they graduated high school. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say their leaving wasn’t an intentional decision.

“For the most part, people aren’t leaving the church out of bitterness, the influence of college atheists, or a renunciation of their faith,” said Trueblood.

“What the research tells us may be even more concerning for Protestant churches: there was nothing about the church experience or faith foundation of those teenagers that caused them to seek out a connection to a local church once they entered a new phase of life. The time they spent with activity in church was simply replaced by something else.”

Read more at … https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/

ATTENDANCE & Why Americans Don’t Go to Religious Services: Many cite practical or personal reasons, rather than lack of belief, for staying home. #PewResearch

by Pew Research, 8/1/18.

Among those who attend no more than a few times a year, about three-in-ten say they do not go to religious services for a simple reason: They are not believers. But a much larger share stay away not because of a lack of faith, but for other reasons. This includes many people who say one very important reason they don’t regularly attend church is that they practice their faith in other ways. Others cite things they dislike about particular congregations or religious services (for example, they haven’t found a church or house of worship they like, or they don’t like the sermons). Still others name logistical reasons, like being in poor health or not having the time to go, as very important reasons for not regularly attending religious services.

…Overall, the single most common answer cited for not attending religious services is “I practice my faith in other ways,” which is offered as a very important reason by 37% of people who rarely or never attend religious services. A similar share mention things they dislike about religious services or particular congregations, including one-in-four who say they have not yet found a house of worship they like, one-in-five who say they dislike the sermons, and 14% who say they do not feel welcome at religious services.

About three-in-ten non-attenders say they are not believers, while 22% cite logistical reasons for not going to religious services, such as not having the time or being in poor health. And fully a quarter of those who infrequently attend religious services say none of these factors is a very important reason why.

Among those who rarely attend religious services, nearly four-in-ten say they don’t go because they practice their faith in other ways

Read more at … https://www.pewforum.org/2018/08/01/why-americans-go-to-religious-services/

WORSHIP & Pew Research finds main reason people regularly go to church, synagogue, mosque or another house of worship is an obvious one: to feel closer to God. Because of the Hebrew word for “worship” I call this a “face to foot encounter.”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The Hebrew word for worship means to come close to a royal personage and kiss their feet in adoration and humility. Such closeness to God that we seek in our worship services I have called a “face to foot encounter.”

Sometimes today churches try to draw in people with entertaining events,. But, Pew Research confirms that people are looking for a personal encounter with God.

Top reasons U.S. adults give for choosing to attend or not attend religious services

“Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services” Pew Forum, 8/1/18.

In recent years, the percentage of U.S. adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining, while the share of Americans who attend only a few times a year, seldom or never has been growing. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the main reason people regularly go to church, synagogue, mosque or another house of worship is an obvious one: to feel closer to God. But the things that keep people away from religious services are more complicated.

Read more at … https://www.pewforum.org/2018/08/01/why-americans-go-to-religious-services/

#Olathe

 

ATTENDANCE & When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church” #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell church leaders not to plant a church in the fall or launch a new service or venue at that time. That is because while there is a peak of interest in going to church before Thanksgiving, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the lowest time of the year for people to be interested in attending church.

It is much better to launch new multiplication efforts during Lent in the Spring run up to Easter as depicted in the chart below.

When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church”

by Nobel Kuriakose, Pew Research, 5/18/14.

More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100…

In 2013, the highest share of searches for “church” are on the week of Easter Sunday, followed by the week of Christmas and the week of Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent.

The lowest share of searches occur on the week of Thanksgiving in November each year, and the summer months have consistently low levels of interest in web searches for “church.” Sociologists also have previously reported low levels of church attendance during the summer months. Laurence Iannaccone and Sean Everton analyzed weekly attendance records from churches and argued that people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right in a journal article titled “Never on Sunny Days.”

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/18/when-easter-and-christmas-near-more-americans-search-online-for-church/

CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Gallup research: Percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply & those professing no religious identity, up to 20% from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

graph 1

From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

… Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

Protestants’ Pie Is Shrinking Faster Than Catholics’

While attracting parishioners to weekly services is vital to the maintenance of the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations alike, so too is maintaining a large base of Americans identifying with each faith group.

Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply, from 71% in 1955 to 47% in the mid-2010s. Since 1999, Gallup’s definition of Protestants has included those using the generic term “Christian” as well as those calling themselves Protestant or naming a specific Protestant faith.

By contrast, while the Catholic Church has suffered declining attendance in the U.S., the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady — largely because of the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults today identify as Catholic, compared with 24% in 1955.

A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. This is partly because more young people identify as “other” or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion — 33% — identifying with no religion.

Bottom Line

…Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.

All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx

ATTENDANCE & How many people go to church each Sunday? They told Gallup 40%. Reality only 20.4%

by the Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

A: For years, the Gallup Research Organization has come up with a consistent figure — 40 percent of all Americans, or roughly 118 million people, who said they attended worship on the previous weekend. Recently, sociologists of religion have questioned that figure, saying Americans tend to exaggerate how often they attend.

By actually counting the number of people who showed up at representative sample of churches, two researchers, Kirk Hadaway and Penny Marler found that only 20.4 percent of the population, or half the Gallup figure, attended church each weekend.

As added proof for the accuracy of this smaller percentage of churchgoers, if 20.4% of Americans (approximately 63 million in 2010) attended the nation’s 350,000 congregations weekly then the average attendance would be 180 people per congregation which is almost exactly the figure that numerous research studies have found.

Want to know more?

MORALITY & Cohabitation and Church Attendance Factor into Likelihood of Divorce #LifeWay

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, 3/21/16.

For couples looking to increase their chances of a lasting marriage, research offers some advice: don’t live together before marriage, but do attend church together.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics examined marital history data from the National Survey of Family Growth to determine what factors into the probability of a lasting first marriage.

Couples who live together before getting married have a lower chance of having a long-term marriage than those who don’t live together, according to analysis by researchers at the Pew Research Center.

A woman who refrained from living with her husband prior to their wedding has a 57 percent probability her marriage will last at least two decades. Those who cohabitate decrease their probability to 46 percent.

For men, the more commitment is made prior to living together the more likely their marriages are to last. Those who live with their future spouse before even being engaged have the lowest chance of a long-term marriage at 49 percent. For those who wait until after marriage, they have a 60 percent chance of celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary.

Another factor to help solidify a marriage may be church attendance, as opposed to religious identification, according to sociologist Brad Wright. “Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend church had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38 percent of weekly attendees,” he says…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/21/cohabitation-and-church-attendance-factor-into-likelihood-of-divorce/