A little more than half of pastors expect their worship attendance to decline after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to a new report by the Barna Group.
Barna recently released the findings of week 17 of their Church Pulse leader survey, which drew from a poll of 422 Protestant pastors taken Sept. 10-18.
Because each weekly survey has a different number of respondents, Barna reported the margin of error as varying between 4.77% and 7.65% depending on the sample.
For week 17, 46% of pastors said that they expect attendance to have “declined slightly” by the end of the crisis, while 6% responded that they expect it to have “declined dramatically.”
This is the largest percentage of respondents to believe that worship attendance will have “declined slightly” since March 20, which was week 1 for the report.
For the first six weeks that the church leader survey was done, those who said it would have “declined slightly” was below 20%. Since week 12, the total has been 40% or higher.
Despite the sense that attendance will decline, 92% of respondents said that they were either “very confident” or “confident” that their church will “survive” the current crisis.
Earlier this year, the vast majority of churches in the United States halted their in-person worship gatherings to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, often switching to online services.
Many churches have returned to doing in-person services, typically adhering to a level of social distancing guidelines like wearing face masks and spacing out attendees.
The week 17 Barna survey found that 54% of pastors are holding services in their usual building/location, with 15% expecting to do so this month; 23% expected to do so by October and 13% did not expect to do so until next year.
Sixty-five percent said their facilities are open for normal use with some precautions in place; 2% are open with no precautions in place; 16% are open for small gatherings or meetings only; 11% are open for staff only; 2% are open to provide crisis services; and 4% are still closed to everyone.
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Source: Christian Post