U.S. church membership drops below majority for first time

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 8:28 AM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Last year fewer people were attending church in part due to the pandemic, but according to a study by Gallup, U.S. Church membership has been on a steady decline for years now.

The study reports 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque in 2020. This is the first time membership has dropped below the majority, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. The change is attributed to the rise in Americans with no religious preference, according to the study.

Upper Room Ministries Pastor Karl Anderson said he’s seen a trend in fewer people coming to services over the years.

“There’s more to do people are going to the beach on Sunday, washing their car and church isn’t what it used to be,” said Anderson. “A lot more people are comfortable now and the message is brought to them now, so although numbers have been dealing since before COVID, I believe a lot of it is attributed to comfortability and also accessibility.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Anderson said his church has taken new approaches to spread its message with an emphasis on social media.

“We were sort of forced to do something we haven’t done before like taking advantage of taking our minority its social media platforms and that’s not just us, but many churches,” said Anderson. “There are people we may never know we’re touching but we know we’re impacting or we know we’re touching them.”

In preparation for its busiest weekend of the year, Upper Room Ministries plans to celebrate Easter weekend with virtual and drive-up services, along with deliveries of Easter goodies to kids.

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