How Many Americans Really Attend Church Each Week?

The following should come as a wake up call.  I copied this from the following blog http://theologica.blogspot.com/2005/06/how-many-americans-really-attend.html because I was afraid that they may take it down sometime and I want you to see the material.  He links to another web site you would enjoy looking at http://ww.theamericanchurch.org/facts/1.htm. 

Our work is cut out for us both around the world and here in the US. 

Vision needs and plans to reach and influence the world by building a strong Bible preaching, Bible practicing church that will change the way people think, equip, and then enable people to lead and impact the world in every area of life. 

Our prayer is to build a church that the world cannot ignore.

We want a church where lives are changed, people are saved, and the altars are filled with people each service as they get saved, get right, and or grow in maturity. 

We cannot accomplish this on our own. God must do it.  We need Holy Spirit power so we must be a praying people.  

Our pulpit and people must give a message that is so clear that lives are changed forever. 

We must build a church that loves people, all people from every walk of life.  They will come with lots of problems and needs but we want to be here with the gospel message, hope and love. 

We are looking for high committment people that are willing to pay the price to make a difference in people’s lives all over the world. 

We will start with you where you are but our goal is to make you a person that will make a difference.  A person that will impact others for God and good.

We are and desire to be more of a church that will raise up and actively train leaders to take the gospel message to the entire world in this generation. 

Our focus is to glorify God by preaching His name all over the world in the power of the Holy Spirit as we fulfill the Great Commission.

And now the article:

How many Americans go to church regularly? 

If you listen to the answers provided by major opinion research firms, the answer usually hovers around 40%. (National Opinion Research Center: 38%; Institute for Social Research’s World Values: 44%; Barna: 41%; National Election Studies: 40%; Gallup: 41%.) 

But in recent years this consensus has been challenged. It seems that it’s more accurate to say that 40% of Americans claim to attend church regularly. 

In 1998, sociologist Stanley Presser at the University of Michigan—whose “research focuses on questionnaire design and testing, the accuracy of survey responses, and ethical issues stemming from the use of human subjects”—co-authored a study entitled: “Data Collection Mode and Social Desirability Bias in Self-Reported Religious Attendance,” American Sociological Review, v. 63 (1998): 137-145 (with L. Stinson). Comparing diaries with actual attendance, they made the estimate that the actual percentage of Americans attending church from the mid-1960’s to the 90’s was about 26%. 

One of the problem comes in how the question is asked in a poll. Different questions yield different results. For example, in a survey you might ask, “What did you do last weekend?” listing for the person a number of possible activities, including church-going. This will yield a very different response than if you asked, “Did you attend church last Sunday?”

One factor is that people often answer according to what they think someone like them wants or ought to do. So people tend to overreport on the number of sexual partners they’ve had and how much money they give to charity, and tend to underreport on illegal drug use and the like. Hence, church attendance is often inflated. 

In 1998 C. Kirk Hadaway and P.L. Marler published an article in the Christian Century entitled, Did You Really Go To Church This Week? Behind the Poll Data where they examine many of these factors. The authors focused on individual counties in the US and Canada, surveying actual church/synagogue attendance and comparing it with random surveys they were conducting. They found that actual church attendance was about half the rate indicated by national public opinion polls. Their estimate for US actual church attendance is around 20%.

Dave Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church, surveying only Christian churches (i.e., evangelical, mainline, and Catholic) has come up with a similar number. The percentage of Americans regularly attending church is 18.7%.

Olson has collected his findings in an eye-opening slide-show entitled Twelve Surprising Facts about the US Church. The 12 points cannot be copied and pasted, so I’ve reprinted them below, along with links to his charts and maps. 

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