(From FotF’s Pastor’s Weekly Briefing)

New Ellison Research asked 1,007 American adults to report on their attendance at worship services. Results of the study showed that the traditional definitions of “churched” — people who attend services monthly or more often — and “un-churched” — people who do not typically attend frequently enough to be considered “churched” — often doesn’t tell a complete story about how often people actually attend religious worship services. If adults in America are placed in more realistic categories based on their normal behavior, attendance stats at religious services would look like this:

* Attend more than once a week (11%)
* Attend once a week (22%)
* Attend two to three times a month (14%)
* Attend once a month (5%)
* Attend occasionally, not on a regular basis (9%)
* Attend only on religious holidays (10%)
* Do not attend at all (29%)

The study also showed that if an adult attended worship services regularly at some point before the age of 18, there is a 55 percent chance that person is currently attending once a month or more. If the person never attended prior to age 18, there is only a 21 percent chance that individual is currently attending worship services on a regular basis.

When someone grows up in a home where both a mother and father occasionally attend religious services, there is a 62 percent chance that individual is now regularly attending services as an adult. If only one parent attends services occasionally, there is a 50 percent chance that grown adult is now regularly attending worship. But when an individual grows up with neither parent regularly attending worship services, the chances that person is now regularly attending is only at 33 percent.

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, noted, “There’s often an assumption that people either do attend worship services or they don’t. But what we find in this study is that up to one out of every five Americans is attending worship services at least occasionally during the year, even though they are not regularly involved. That has huge implications for local congregations who are trying to attract new people.” Sellers said, “We estimate that up to 43 million adults who do not regularly attend worship services will visit a church or place of worship at some point during the year.” [Ellison Research]

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