A large majority of Americans consider Sunday the most enjoyable day of the week, according to a 1998 Gallup poll. Few Century readers would wish for a different answer. However, as autumn once again evokes rueful ministerial jokes about ending worship in time for the congregation to get home for the football game, some may think that Sunday has become a little too enjoyable.
When I sit in church on Sunday mornings, I sometimes look
around at the other congregants and ask myself, "Why are these people here? Why
did they choose to come to church?" Some people prefer staying at home to
leisurely read the Sunday paper, or go out for a relaxed Sunday brunch. Why
have these people given up their precious spare time to be here?
Many people assume that there has been a steady decline in worship
attendance for all the mainline denominations since the mid-1960s—the
era when most of them began to see their memberships decline. But
trends in attendance have actually followed their own
"Women are more religious than men.” That’s a longstanding generalization made by pastors surveying their pews and by social scientists surveying the public. Husbands and single guys with other weekend plans might even offer that truism as an excuse for skipping church.
A statistic: only about 30 percent of people born between 1964 and 1978— that is, 30 percent of so-called Gen Xers—belong to a church. Ubiquitous media reports say that’s not because we aren’t spiritually inclined. We are.
Research indicates that within the next 12 years, the number of Muslims worshiping at mosques in Britain will outstrip that of Catholics attending mass. According to London’s Daily Telegraph March 25, the study by Britain’s Christian Research organization estimates that the number of Catholics attending Sunday mass will have dropped to 679,000 by 2020.
A new analysis by the Gallup Organization finds that Churches of Christ members and Mormons are most likely to attend worship services often, according to questions asked of those members between 2002 and 2005.