Jump directly to the content

The Main Reason for Declining Church Attendance: Children's Sports?

Roundup of new religion research finds link.

Sunday used to be a day reserved by many Christians for attending worship services, but new research indicates the extent to which American churches today are competing against myriad other activities.

The biggest competition? Children's sports.

According to a new study published in the Review of Religious Research, an examination of declining attendance at 16 congregations revealed that many pastors place the most blame on children's sports activities, since both practices and competitions are increasingly "scheduled on Sunday mornings at the very time when many churches traditionally have provided religious education."

But that doesn't mean that families whose kids are highly involved in athletics will stop attending church (though that does seem to be the case among churches that stigmatize parents who miss church for sports, as the Association of Religion Data Archives's David Briggs points out).

Instead, more Protestant churches are offering alternate service times to accommodate members with Sunday morning commitments. They're also increasing their emphasis on physical fitness programs or sports ministries.

According to Briggs (whose ARDA research roundup is worth reading), "More than two-thirds of congregations who said sports and fitness programs were a specialty of the congregation reported more than a 10 percent growth in attendance from 2000 to 2010. In contrast, only a third of churches with no athletic programs reported such growth."

CT previously has reported on the topic of sports and how Christians have 'succumbed to the sports culture.'

Related Topics:None
Posted:April 8, 2013 at 10:12AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
Wheaton College, Larycia Hawkins to ‘Part Ways’
Provost says he asked the tenured professor for forgiveness, withdrew termination process.
What to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
Charting how Lenten abstinence has changed over time.
Super Bowl Theology: How Americans See God's Role in the Big Game
Surveys suggest Christians believe much more prosperity gospel than Calvinism is at play.
Pastor of China's Largest Church Jailed for Protesting Removal of 1,500 Crosses
Christian unity growing as government-approved churches no longer immune from persecution.
Christianity Today
The Main Reason for Declining Church Attendance: Children's ...