Religion, just like family and career, is an essential part of life to most people around the world. And when you talk about religion, the common topics include one’s expression of faith, religious beliefs, and church attendance. In the not so distant past, churches were typically filled with members every Sunday and special holidays. But that was then.
Today, as society continues to advance technologically, and as people change in terms of priorities and lifestyles, church attendance everywhere is also changing. So we’ve gathered some key church attendance statistics for you to know more about this important religious activity. This report covers church attendance in general, various geographic locations, demographics, technological aspects, and other relevant areas.
Church Attendance Statistics Table of Contents
General Church Attendance Statistics
Church attendance is defined as a key religious activity mainly attributed to Christians worldwide, which will be the focus of this article. Church membership is in a decline, which is considered a direct outcome of the waning church membership in most countries, particularly in the US and Europe. Aside from the smaller number of people today without any religious affiliation, those who identify with a specific religion tend to seldom attend any church services.
- On average, 39% of Catholics attended church in the past seven days from 2014–2017. From 2005–2008, it was 45% on average and 75% in 1955
- Conversely, from 2014 to 2017, 45% of Protestants went to church on average weekly, which remains the same from a decade ago
- In 1900, around 27% of all Catholics were in North and South America, 68% in Europe, 5% in Asia, and 1% in Africa
- By 2010, about 50% lived in the Americas, 24% in Europe, 15% in Africa, and 11% in Asia
- From the hundreds of millions of Catholics in Latin Ameria, only 20% are attending mass once a month
- Church attendance has dropped more among Catholics than among Protestants. The same is true in terms of church membership between the two denominations
- In 2008, 42% of adults reported that they attended church activities weekly or around every week
- In 2017, 38% of adults reported that they attended church activities weekly or around every week
- It was from the 1950s to the 1970s when the steepest decline in church attendance among US Catholics occurred
US Church Attendance Statistics
The US religious landscape continues to change at an accelerated pace. On the one hand, the number of devout Christians who belong to the older generations continues to decline. On the other hand, younger Americans tend to prioritize things other than religion. Thus, this trend is expected to persist further.
- In the last 10 years, the number of Americans who report they attend church services around once or twice a month declined by 7%
- Conversely, the number of American Christians who report they attend church services less frequently has increased by 7%
- In 2009, those who attend church services around once or twice a month exceeded those who attend church services only occasionally or not at all
- On the contrary, those numbers are inverted today: 54% of Americans nowadays say they attend church services a few times a year compared to those who attend at least monthly (45%)
- From 55% in 1965, mass attendance decreased to 23% in 2017
- Between 2010 and 2017, US Catholics have lost 800 parishes
- In 2010, 21.3% of the US population were Catholics. In 2017, 21% of the American population, only registering a slight loss and zero growth
- In 2018, among those aged 21–29, 36% of Protestants and 25% of Catholics went to church weekly
- When the first wave of church abuse charges emerged in the mid-1990s, religious attendance in the US considerably plummeted
Source: Gallup 2019
European Church Attendance Statistics
Christianity has stopped being the standard religion in Europe. Despite sharing borders, many EU countries tend to have diverse religious profiles. Among nations that consider themselves Catholic, there was a wide disparity in degrees of commitment.
- In the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, France, and the UK, 56% to 60% cited they never attend church services, and 63% to 66% said they never pray
- 70% of people in the Czech Republic said they never attended any church activity, while 80% said they never pray
- In Poland, over 80% of young Poles say they are Catholic, with about 50% attending church services around once a week
- Among Lithuanians, 70% of young adults say they are Catholic, but only 5% go to mass every week
- By 2030, the Dublin Council of priests predicted a 33.3% decline in church attendance
- In Ireland, 18% of Catholics go to mass, 23% only hear mass during Christmas, and 59% never go to church
- From 2010 and 2014, 20% of Catholics in Germany and 17% in Spain went to church
- Between 2005–2009 period, 31% of Italian Catholics and 12% of French Catholics attended mass regularly
Source: St Mary's University, Twickenham
Other Continents Church Attendance Statistics
While the long-held bastions of Christianity like Europe and the US are experiencing downturns, other areas are going the other direction. Churches in Asia, Africa, and Latin America appear to continue growing in general.
- Worldwide, Nigeria has the most number of Christians who attend church at least once a week in 2009, at 88%, followed by Zambia and Haiti, both at 85%
- Between 2010 and 2014, 19% of Catholics in Australia attend mass
- For the 2005–2009 period, 45% of Catholics in Brazil attended mass, while 39% in Peru and 21% in Argentina went to church
- While around 50% of Catholics in Mexico go to mass, their membership went down from 73% of the country’s population in 2000 to 69% in 2014
- In the Philippines, 46% of adult Filipinos attend religious services weekly, with 34% attending once a month and 19% occasionally
- The more education adults have, the less they tend to attend church services
- 70%–90% of adults in Sub-Saharan African countries hear mass every week
Demographics Church Attendance Statistics
While Millennials may not be the next “Greatest Generation” they will certainly become one of the largest in history. Experts expect Millennials to surpass Baby Boomers by 2019 with 74 million–and swell to 81 million by 2036. However, declining church membership among Millennials is a huge problem for the church community.
- 80% of the time, women decide whether a family attends church or not
- 27% of Christian women generally determine whether to unplug from their church
- 59% of Millennials who were born with a religious affiliation tend to unplug from their church
- 40% of Christian elders see church attendance as important
- Two of 10 Millennials consider church attendance as important
- 35% of Millennials think that the church does more harm than good
- Women are considered to be more religious than men
- Most Gen Z Americans tend to skip attending church activities regularly. 45% of them say they rarely or never attend church
- Only 24% of White American Gen Z attend church services on a weekly basis
- Since 1991, church attendance among Baby Boomers has declined to 38%
- The number of Baby Boomers without any church affiliation has increased by 41%
- 24% of affiliated churchgoers cite transportation difficulties, health problems, and work conflicts as the most common reasons for not attending church
Pew Research 2019
Technology and Church Attendance Statistics
Change has also caught up even with the most conservative churches. More and more parishes going digital, initially to address the changing preferences of their church members and recently to adapt to the demands of the global pandemic.
- In April 2020, 22% of US priests and pastors intend to continue their practice of live streaming their worship service or sermon, which they have been doing for years
- 45% of those who seldom live stream their service was prompted to do so in April due to the coronavirus
- Instead of live streaming, 30% say they posted a video sermon that their congregation can view 24/7
- 16% of pastors report their church has integrated an online giving option for their members since the pandemic started
- 48% of priests and pastors are planning to offer online giving, which is something their churches have been providing in the past
- Today, 35% say their church still doesn’t have online giving capabilities
- In 2017, 30% of churches already offered online giving option through their parish websites
- 49% of all church giving already occurs through an online payment gateway
- In 2020, for the first time, more Americans listened to podcasts weekly (24%) than physically attended church services weekly (23%)
- In recent years, churches have started using social media to communicate and stream service to parishioners
Passing around a plate doesn’t cut it anymore, while live-streamed church service slowly becomes the norm. This is why priests, pastors, and church administrators typically turn to social media alternatives, such as YouTube and Facebook, for their live streaming needs.
Key Technology-Based Changes in Some Church Practices
Source: LifeWay Research 2017-2020Created by CompareCamp.com
The Global Pandemic and Church Attendance Statistics
As of this writing, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to change life as we know it. And this includes how churches everywhere have adjusted some of their practices to minimize person-to-person contact, without compromising the quality of religious services.
- 90% of Protestant pastors in the US say their congregations conducted 100% online worship services from late March to April 2020
- In early March 2020, 99% of churches still help physical gatherings. By the end of the same month, such gatherings went down to 7%
- Once the lockdown is lifted, 30% of Protestant pastors plan to resume worship services initially with small groups
- When things get back to normal, around 16% of pastors intend to resume all normal activities immediately
- 7% of pastors will be organizing small groups first, later in-person worship services will be made
- 24% of pastors still haven’t made any plan to resume church activities, while 1% reports that they continued in-person activities despite the mandatory quarantine
For podcasts, online giving, and other relevant needs, church administrators use technologies like ChurchSuite.
Source: LifeWay Research
What do these statistics tell you?
The above figures indicate that significant transformations have transpired and will continue to occur in today’s churches, particularly regarding church attendance. Also, these statistics suggest the need for church leaders to quickly adjust to remain relevant in these volatile times.
It is clear that brick and mortar church attendance is not the only way to drive engagement among members. Some churches have started to deploy technology platforms to engage parishioners and reach potential members.
For instance, priests and pastors are increasingly enjoying the benefits of church management applications like Wrike Church Management, and Church Windows. These applications allow churches to streamline and automate their tasks and processes, ensuring better management of their church activities.
Finally, churches now have the best opportunity to better engage and communicate using various channels with members, guests, and their entire church community, wherever they are, all the time.