Will the Pandemic Bring About the End of Small Churches?

Daniel A. Cox January 20, 2022

A little church on a prairie field as the sun rises over the horizon.

News about religious trends in the US is rarely upbeat. A recent exception was Bob Smietana’s article for Religion News Service in which he documented how declining service attendance has created a new category of “minichurches” that feature fewer members than you might find at a family reunion. But with fewer congregants, religious leaders are able to connect with them directly, and “relationships matter more than the spectacle of a Sunday morning.”

The numbers certainly bear this out. Most congregations in the US are small—70 percent of all congregations have memberships of less than 100 people. And many are getting smaller. The median attendance has declined every year for the last two decades. It’s now less than half of what it was 20 years ago.

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Survey Reports

An illustration of the side profiles of four people. From left to right: a young white man with blond hair, an older Black woman with short, curly Black hair, a young woman with tan skin and black hair with a blue streak, an older man with darker tan skin with curly grey hair and a mustache.

Daniel A. Cox, Beatrice Lee, Dana Popky
April 27, 2022

Politics, Sex, and Sexuality: The Growing Gender Divide in American Life

The March 2022 American Perspectives Survey examines the growing gender divide in American Life.

Daniel A. Cox
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Generation Z and the Future of Faith in America

Data from the American National Family Life Survey paints a complicated picture of religious change and disaffiliation in the country today.

Daniel A. Cox
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Emerging Trends and Enduring Patterns in American Family Life

The American National Family Life Survey examines the changing contours of American family life in the country today.

bridge between college graduates and those without a degree

Daniel A. Cox
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The College Connection: The Education Divide in American Social and Community Life

The 2021 American Community Life Survey illuminates the growing social divide between Americans with college educations and those without.