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Study: 1 in 3 practicing Christians stopped going to church in pandemic

By BRANDON PORTER

Kentucky Today

One in three practicing Christians has stopped attending church during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent study from Barna Research. The study is based on data collected in April and May of this year.

About one-third of people surveyed who say they were a part of a local church say they did not stream their own church’s service or any church serve during the study period.

The study is called State of the Church and can be found at Barna.com.

“While this report brings discouraging news on the church attendance habits of some of their members, it also validates what many of our Kentucky Baptist churches are experiencing,” said Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Gray believes the information will spur churches to look for ways to reconnect with the disconnected, “No doubt Kentucky Baptist churches and their leaders will pray, regroup, and begin to aggressively reach out into their community with the gospel.”

Kenny Rager, KBC evangelism associate, responded to the survey, “It is very sad to see the amount of unengaged people but a sober reminder that all believers must be engaged in the great commission.”

He believes the survey should be a wakeup call for church members as much as it is for pastors to reach out to those affected by the shutdown, “It is not the job of a select few who hear the title as a pastor.”

Another area for concern is how Millennials, people born between 1981 and 1996, have disconnected from local church services during the pandemic. The study indicates that nearly of half of those surveyed say they have not watched their church’s livestream service.

Barna researchers write, “Though younger generations might be more accustomed to digital routines and innovations, their tenuous relationship with institutions seems to persist during this era of digital Church.”

They recommend, “These trends highlight the importance of churches continuing to reach out to and disciple the next generation, especially those who are seemingly falling away during the pandemic.”

Rager agrees and says, “People must be willing to build bridges. They must continue to step out of the cozy and comfortable to step into the lives of others.”