Brand New Research: Mother's Day Is Top Non-Religious Holiday for Church Attendance
If you saw the front page of of USAToday this morning, you saw a new study by LifeWay Research shows that other than Easter and Christmas, Mother's Day may be the most likely day people will attend church. In the survey of 1,000 protestant pastors, Mother's Day (59 percent) ranked third behind the standard religious powerhouse holidays of Easter (93 percent) and Christmas (84 percent).
Here are a few key parts:
How much "holy" folks invest in either holiday is shaped by tradition, and, quite simply, the calendar. Father's Day falls during summer vacation season.
"If both holidays were the second Sunday in May, my hunch is attendance would be nearly the same," says Pastor Ross Sawyers of 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas.
Family dynamics matter, too. Dads may be church-averse, but moms have clout.
"Christmas, Easter, and Mother's Day have become the three days of male holy obligation when their wives and mothers are able to guilt them into the pews," says David Murrow.
People play favorites when it comes to gifts, too. Pam Danzinger of Unity Marketing , which tracks shopping, says 50% plan to buy a gift for mom, but only a third will shop for Dad.
You can read the LifeWay Research release here. From the release:
Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said, "Clearly, mothers want to be present for the affirmation that is typically offered in most churches, but families also are present knowing their attendance will honor their mother. Many families make church attendance on Mother's Day nearly obligatory. The attendance difference between Mother's Day and Father's Day is telling. Either churches are less effective in affirming fathers, or families believe Christian fathers don't value their participation in worship services."
It should, however, come as no surprise that Easter and Christmas top the poll. The Mother's Day data is important, particularly as we head there this weekend-- it is an attendance opportunity. Also of interest in the research was the prominence of "Homecoming" in the results.
A traditional celebration of the anniversary of church's founding, Homecoming is typically celebrated by more established churches, especially in the South. In fact, pastors of churches in the South are most likely to select Homecoming (9 percent) as the third highest attended Sunday of the year. No other region had more than one percent of pastors make this selection.
So what does this mean to you and your church? Simply put, holidays and special celebrations encourage members to to invite friends to church more than usual.
Other LifeWay Research studies on church attendance:
- Ministry expansion doesn't automatically lead to attendance growth (May 2009)
- Americans open to outreach from churches (March 2009)
- Reasons 18- to 22-year-olds drop out of church (August 2007)