According to a recent Lifeway Research poll, over half of Americans attended virtual religious services during the COVID-19 outbreak, even those who seldom attend in-person services.
Christian Headlines reports that the survey indicated that 45% of Americans viewed a virtual religious service during the outbreak. 30% of those polled regularly attend church in person, whereas 15% don’t.
Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 (18%) and 50 and 64 (18%) are the most likely to report having viewed a streaming service, despite the fact that they seldom go to church. This includes 42% of people who would never go to church otherwise, as well as 10% of those who do.
The research also says that millions of Americans who aren’t members of a church used a streaming service when they were cooped up at home.
On the flipside, over half of Americans claim they didn’t participate in any virtual services throughout the outbreak. About 42% don’t go to church at all, while about 10% do.
Nonetheless, Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, remarked that “the distance to one’s nearest church has changed almost overnight” wherein “a form of communication that was not even used by most churches before the pandemic has now reached almost half of Americans.”
When Lifeway Research surveyed Protestant pastors before the emergence of COVID-19, 41% of them indicated they didn’t often broadcast or publish their sermons online. Only about a quarter of those polled (27%) claimed to have livestreamed the entire service or just the sermon.
Most congregations responded quickly to the outbreak of the coronavirus and new social distancing standards by providing digital alternatives. According to Lifeway Research, 92% of Protestant pastors planned to offer sermons or worship sessions through video on their websites by March 2020. That figure went up to 97% in April.
Over 85% of Protestant churchgoers polled by Lifeway Research in early 2021 stated their congregation offers livestreamed worship sessions, and over 76% reported their churches uploaded videos of the religious service for later viewing.
More than half of churchgoers reported watching more online worship sessions in 2020 compared to 2019, with 21% saying they did the same at other churches.
Pastors have also reported that during the outbreak, formerly unaffiliated individuals have shown up at their church or joined online.
In response to the question “Have you viewed an online Christian church service during the COVID pandemic?” several people said yes. Some 45% claim they have, with 30% of those who regularly attend in person and 15% of those who don’t.
People who have never attended church but have at least looked at a video of a service during the outbreak, according to McConnell, are utilizing internet choices to see what it’s like to be in a church.
Furthermore, evangelicals are three times more likely than the general population to report that they viewed religious services online during the outbreak and that they typically go to church on Sunday.
Young adults 18-34 (18%) and African Americans (22%) are among those most likely to have viewed religious services online during the outbreak but aren’t regular churchgoers.