A new poll concerning the coronavirus from the National Opinion Research Center found that 27% of people who attended a religious service at least once per month prior to the coronavirus outbreak still have no plans to return.
The percentage of those who said they would attend – 73% – is up slightly from the two-thirds who said the same in May 2020. However, 7% of people who attended at least once a month said they definitely won’t be returning.
The June poll examined both how the coronavirus changed people’s habits and the public’s thoughts on lifting the restrictions. It also found that, of the general public, only 34% planned on attending a religious service in person within the next few weeks.
This, in part, corresponds with a 2021 Gallup poll which found that the number of Americans who said “they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque” had fallen to 47% – the first time the number had fallen out of the majority.
Evangelical research firm Lifeway Research explained in an article by the Associated Press that “many churches lost steam when in-person services shut down.”
“That’s a lot of momentum to lose and a lot of people stepping out of the habit” of weekly worship, Scott McConnell, Lifeway’s executive director, told the AP.
According to one reverend, the churches that adapted to the pandemic quicker, such as setting up live-streamed services or online donations, were the ones that were more successful in reemerging post coronavirus lockdowns.
Christians are called to devote themselves to biblical teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and prayer (Acts 2:42). If we neglect meeting with other believers, we will surely become discouraged in our faith (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our desire for fellowship should be to please and obey God and to give to others – not simply when we feel like we might need it. The church is a place of mutual fellowship between Christians who are coming together to worship God. It is not a buffet to take away what you want and never give anything back. When a Christian feels that it is safe enough to return, they should come back to a physical body of believers in order to encourage others and to be encouraged in their own faith.
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