Why Are Fewer People Attending Church? A 10-Year Analysis (2014-2024)

In the last ten years, the U.S. has seen a big change in religious habits. Fewer people are going to church. More Americans now say they aren’t part of any religion. Gallup’s poll shows that from 2014 to 2023, the number of Protestants going to church fell from 37% to 33%. At the same time, those who said they weren’t religious went up from 16% to 22%1.

This shift isn’t just in the U.S. Western Europe is now one of the most non-religious spots in the world. Most people there don’t go to church. A Pew survey in the UK found that there are three times more non-practicing Christians than those who attend church2.

People’s views on religion are also changing. A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center showed that only 10% of adults trust organized religion a lot. This trust has been dropping. Almost half of adults see themselves as not religious. And 46% of these people say they don’t believe in God, which explains why they’re not religious3.

Key Takeaways

  • Church attendance has gone down a lot in the U.S. over the past ten years. More people say they don’t belong to any religion.
  • Western Europe is now very secular, with non-practicing Christians being more common than church-goers.
  • The way people think about religion and spirituality is changing. Less people trust organized religion.
  • The number of Americans who never go to church went up from 23% in 2014 to 31% in 2023.
  • But, a lot of adults still believe in God or something similar. Many also believe in spiritual things like angels, heaven, and prayer.

Decline in Religious Affiliation and Church Membership

The religious scene in the United States is changing. There’s been a big drop in people who say they’re affiliated with a religion or belong to a church over the years. The percentage of adults calling themselves Christians went from 65% in 2009 to 53% in 20194. At the same time, those saying they’re not affiliated with any religion went from 17% to 26%4.

Shifting Religious Landscape in the United States

Protestantism and Catholicism have seen fewer people in their ranks, too. The Protestant population went from 51% to 43% between 2009 and 2019. Catholics dropped from 23% to 20%4. But atheists and agnostics have seen a slight increase in the same time period4.

Church membership is dropping every year. For the first time in over 80 years, it fell below 50% in 2020. In 1947, a high of 76% was recorded, but by 2021, only 47% of Americans were still members5.

Trends in Religious Preference and Identification

The number of Christians is going down. Now, 71% of adults identify as Christian. This is down from 80% in the early 2000s4. Also, fewer people are going to religious services weekly, dropping from 37% to 31% between 2009 and 20194.

Millennials and Generation X, show lower church membership. Only 36% of millennials belong to a church6. This is lower than the 66% of traditionalists or the 58% of baby boomers who are church members6. This shows young people are less likely to join or stay in churches, affecting the overall membership rates.

The decline of Christianity in much of Western Civilization is attributed to increased secularization, high-profile church scandals, and younger generations not being raised in church5.

While the U.S. sees fewer Christians and church-goers, globally, Christianity is still the biggest faith at 31%5. It holds less of the global share than before, though. These findings are according to the Center for the Study of Global Trends5.

Changing Attitudes Towards Religion and Spirituality

The United States is seeing big changes in how people view religion and spirituality. More people are focusing on their personal spiritual growth. At the same time, fewer are sticking with traditional religious groups. This shift is due to different things, like changes across generations, shifts in society, and a wish for personal ways to follow a faith.

In 2023, stats show that 47% of U.S. adults are religious, while 33% say they are spiritual but avoid religious labels. Another 18% claim neither7. Younger Americans are less likely to stick with the faith they were raised in than older people. For instance, not as many in their 30s remain Christian, unlike those over 408.

Increasing Importance of Personal Spirituality Over Organized Religion

A lot of Americans now put their own spiritual growth above being part of a religious group. Many who aren’t religious say they dislike the structure of organized religions. Despite this, over half of them still consider themselves spiritual. This shows that people are looking for unique ways to grow spiritually and find purpose in life.

“I consider myself spiritual, but I don’t feel the need to attend church or follow a specific religion. I find my own way to connect with a higher power and live a meaningful life.”

Rise of the “Spiritual but Not Religious” Population

The number of Americans without a set religion or those who are atheist or agnostic nearly doubled from 2007 to 2014. This group, called the “spiritual but not religious,” looks for spirituality outside traditional faiths. They might find peace and a sense of connection through practices like meditation and yoga.

There are a few reasons that have led to this change:

  • Many oppose strong religious views against LGBTQ+ communities and are alarmed by abuse scandals in religious bodies9
  • A wish for spiritual communities that are more welcoming and up-to-date
  • More exposure to different spiritual views through the internet and other technologies

As people’s views on religion and spirituality keep changing, it’s clear that many are looking for new ways to satisfy their spiritual needs. Religious groups that respond to these evolutions by being more open and personal in their spiritual offering have a better chance to keep and attract members in the future.

Generational Differences in Religious Participation

In the United States, we’ve seen big changes in how different generations take part in religion. Younger people are now less connected to religious groups and do not go to church as much. This has caused churches to face a problem in bringing in and keeping younger members. It is important for them to adjust to the new trends and meet the needs of various age groups.

Millennials and Gen Z: The Least Religiously Affiliated Generations

Millennials and Gen Z stand out as the least connected to religion. Gen Z, especially, shows this with 34% not claiming any religious affiliation. This is higher than millennials at 29% and Generation X at 25%. Also, 18% of Gen Z considers themselves atheist or agnostic, much more than older generations10. This change shows how younger people are moving away from traditional beliefs.

Younger generations also attend church and Sunday school less than their counterparts in the past. For example, only 40% of Gen Z went to church every week when they were kids, while it was 57% for baby boomers. And, fewer millennials and Gen Zers had Sunday school experience than the baby boomers10. These differences in early religious education add to the gap between generations.

Aging Congregations and the Struggle to Attract Younger Members

The decline in religion among the younger population affects the age of church attendees. Adults from different generations vary in their weekly attendance, with the youngest showing the lowest numbers. This suggests a need for churches to change how they attract younger members effectively.

Different age groups also differ in church membership. While many traditionalists and baby boomers are part of a church, less Generation X and fewer millennials have memberships. This lack of involvement poses a problem for keeping religious communities strong in the future.

Generation Weekly Church Attendance Church Membership
Younger Millennials 28% 36%
Older Millennials
Generation X 50%
Baby Boomers 58%
Silent and Greatest Generations 51% 66%

To face the challenges of an aging church community and disengaged youth, churches need to focus on new ways to connect with younger generations. This means using technology better, creating a strong sense of community, and meeting the spiritual needs of millennials and Gen Z. Understanding these generational shifts and making changes can help churches grow with time.

Impact of Societal Changes on Church Attendance

In the United States, church attendance has been changing a lot in recent years. People’s lives are getting busier, making it hard to keep a work-life balance. Now, things like family and social events often come before going to church. Because of this, fewer Americans are going to services, with 57% saying they go seldom or never11.

Family life is different now, and that has affected church attendance too. Families don’t always go to church together like they used to. More individuals are focusing on what they believe instead of following organized religion. This shift in values is making people rethink how important religion is in their lives.

You can see these changes in who is going to church across different generations. Millennials and Gen Z are less connected to religion than older generations. Just 39% of Millennials go to church every week. This number was only 21% in 2019. The result is that many churches are mostly filled with older members.

Some churches are finding ways to connect with these changes. They are using technology more to reach people. For example, services are live streamed, and there are now online groups and events. But, the percentage of adults who go to church at least once a month dropped from 33% in 2019 to 30% in 202212. So, new efforts might not be enough to stop the decline.

Generation Weekly Church Attendance Religiously Unaffiliated
Millennials 39% (up from 21% in 2019)11 40%11
Gen Z (non-churchgoing) N/A 72% have doubts about the existence of God11

Due to the ongoing changes, churches must keep up to remain meaningful. They need to offer more than just services, focusing on things like helping with social issues and mental health. By doing this, they can make people feel they belong and have a purpose. This approach might help churches welcome new believers and turn around the decrease in attendance.

Church Attendance Statistics and Trends

Church attendance patterns in the U.S. are changing a lot. More people are not going to church regularly. Between 2016 and 2019, 34% of adults attended a religious service each week. By 2023, this dropped to 30%1314. It seems people are not as interested in traditional religious practices.

Decline in Weekly Church Attendance Rates

Weekly church attendance is becoming less popular. In 2014, 36% of adults went to church weekly. By the 2020s, this dropped to 26%15. This change affects all religious groups, from Protestants to Catholics, with their attendance rates falling14.

Older adults, like Baby Boomers, attended more than Young Millennials. Only 11% of Younger Millennials visited weekly, showing a big gap between generations15. This gap is a challenge for churches, aiming to draw younger congregants.

Increasing Percentage of Americans Who Never Attend Church

More Americans are skipping regular church visits. In 2014, 30% of adults rarely went to services15. This is more common among those without a specific religion. Only 4% of these folks attend church weekly15.

The COVID-19 pandemic made these shifts happen even faster. By 2022, churches were only seeing 85% of their usual Sunday crowd13. Many started offering online and hybrid services to cope. However, whether these changes will last remains to be seen.

Attendance Frequency Percentage of U.S. Adults
At least once a week 36%1315
Once or twice a month / A few times a year 33%1315
Seldom / Never 30%15

These church attendance statistics indicate a big change in how Americans practice religion. As fewer people go to church and more choose not to, churches are working hard to stay relevant. This involves reaching out in new and innovative ways to the broader community.

By focusing on these trends, religious groups can find better ways to meet the spiritual needs of a diverse and changing population.

Loss of Trust in Religious Institutions

In the last decade, trust in religious groups has shrank. This is due to many scandals and arguments about what they teach. People are now questioning if these organizations are truly honest and needed in their lives.

loss of trust in religious institutions

Confidence in many major groups, like the church, has fallen. From 2004 to 2003, it dropped from 43% to 26%16. Even in 2023, this trust was only 32%. This is a big drop from the 60% right after 9/11 in 200116.

Scandals and Controversies Affecting Church Credibility

Churches have faced scandals involving misuse of money and sexual abuse. Because of these, people have lost trust in religious figures. Only 34% see pastors as highly honest or ethical16.

Trust has fallen across different groups, like age and political beliefs. Younger Americans, aged 18-34, show the least trust in the church at 24%. This is less than the 55+ group at 35%16. Democrats and Independents distrust the church more than Republicans. They also found that lower income families trust the church more than higher income families16.

Disagreement with Religious Teachings and Positions on Social Issues

People are starting to see a gap between what their religions say and what is happening today. 48% of U.S. adults feel their religious beliefs clash with modern culture17. And in politics, 42% of Republicans think the Bible should guide laws more than the people’s voice. Only 16% of Democrats think so17.

Some believe that conservative Christians have too much say in government and schools. This view is held by 72% of those who don’t affiliate with a religion17. Although 45% of U.S. adults know about Christian nationalism, only 5% view it favorably17.

Doctrinal differences and political stances are making it hard for many to stay with their churches. This feeling, called disillusionment, is pushing people away from organized religion. And this is a key reason for the drop in church attendance.

Rise of Alternative Spiritual Practices and Beliefs

In the United States, fewer people are sticking to traditional religions. Instead, more Americans are into alternative spiritual ideas. These take different forms and are popular among people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs18. Younger folks, like those in Generation Z, are leading this change. They are moving away from the old religious ways towards exploring newer spiritualities and religions18.

New Age spirituality is a big deal now. It includes things like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. These practices have really taken off lately. Many Americans consider themselves spiritual. For 40% of them, spirituality is key in their lives19.

A big point to note is that even though many people think they are religious, not all see religion as very important. This shows that for lots of folks, personal spirituality is more crucial than religious traditions. Thus, the number of people considering themselves spiritual but not religious is growing. Meanwhile, those who see themselves as just religious are fewer19.

“Spirituality is about being connected with something bigger than myself. It’s about finding meaning and purpose in life, and exploring the mysteries of the universe.” – Sarah, 28

To many, spirituality is feeling part of a bigger picture. In fact, 74% of spiritual Americans find it crucial to be connected with something grand. This could be anything from nature to a grand force above us19.

Seventy percent also see the connection with God as vital19. And 64% believe it’s crucial to find a real connection with themselves19.

More and more, people are blending different spiritual beliefs to form their personal view of religion. This reflects a bigger trend for self-autonomy and self-expression. It could change how we see religion in the future in America.

Strategies for Churches to Adapt and Engage Members

Church attendance has been declining over the past decade20. To stay relevant, churches need new strategies. They’re focusing on technology, reaching out to communities, and creating an engaging atmosphere. This way, they can continue to attract and involve members.

church attendance impact

Embracing Technology and Digital Platforms

Using technology is vital for churches to keep up. Online worship and virtual communities are becoming more popular. It allows churches to connect with a larger, more diverse group of people. They’re also making their websites better to interact with. This includes making them easy to use on phones and showing up better in search engines20. Technology helps churches reach out beyond their walls, bringing people together online.

A recent report from Vanco Payments shows a big shift in how people attend church and give21. To adjust, churches are using new methods, like hearing everyone’s ideas and setting up focus groups. This way, they can make decisions based on what their members think21.

Focusing on Community Outreach and Social Justice Initiatives

It’s crucial for churches to be active in their communities. They do this by volunteering and helping with local issues. By showing they care, churches can attract people looking for a way to engage with their faith. Hosting events that bring the community together is also important. It makes the church more visible and strengthens relationships20.

Encouraging members to bring friends is a powerful way to grow20. Creating a sense of belonging and active participation is key. This encourages more people to get involved. By focusing on doing good and using strong, action-oriented messages, churches can increase their impact22.

Strategy Benefits
Embracing Technology Reach wider audience, engage members in new ways, improve online presence
Community Outreach Demonstrate relevance of faith, appeal to those seeking active engagement
Social Justice Initiatives Address societal issues, engage members in meaningful work
Encouraging Member Invitations Promote organic growth, increase church membership
Creating a Culture of Engagement Increase member participation, reinforce desired behaviors

Adopting these strategies helps churches not just survive, but thrive. As noted by Carey Nieuwhof, it’s quality over quantity. Engaged people can do more for the church’s mission than those who aren’t involved22. By focusing on engaging people, doing good in the community, and using technology, churches build strong, vibrant communities that change lives.


The drop in church attendance over the last decade is linked to many things. This includes social changes, differences across generations, and cultural shifts. In the U.S., the number of adults calling themselves Christians fell from 77% in 2009 to 65% in 2018-2019. Meanwhile, the group with no religious affiliation increased from 17% to 26% during the same time. The number of practicing Christians dropped from 45% in 2000 to 25% by 20202324. This shows a big change in religious views and practices. As people’s ideas about religion and spirituality change, churches should also change to stay important and meet new needs.

Younger people have different religious views than older generations23. Weekly church visits are down for everyone, but more so for Elders and Boomers24. However, many still pray, even if they don’t go to church often25. Churches that mix online and in-person services are growing. But those only doing in-person services are shrinking25. This shows the importance of adapting to what people want today.

For churches to cope with changes, they need to get creative. They should focus on spiritual growth and reaching out to their communities. Using digital platforms can help. It’s also important for them to tackle social issues. This way, churches can be strong and keep playing an important role for the believers. Changing to meet the new demands and preferences of their members is key. This will help them build a space that supports spiritual growth and makes strong community ties, even as things change. Through these changes, faith communities can become more welcoming, more united, and ready to meet the spiritual needs of new generations.

The lower church attendance and religious connections offer both challenges and chances for churches. By embracing change and focusing on spiritual growth, they can become stronger. They should also open up to the wider community. Doing these things will help them remain meaningful and responsive to their followers232425. As views on religion continue to change, it’s important for faith communities to adapt. They need to make sure they are welcoming, inclusive, and meeting the needs of their members.


How much has the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant decreased from 2014 to 2023?

Around 37% of Americans called themselves Protestant in 2014. By 2023, this dropped to 33%.

What was the increase in the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation between 2014 and 2023?

In 2014, 16% of Americans had no religious views. By 2023, this number grew to 22%.

How have weekly church attendance rates changed from 2014 to 2023?

From 2014 to 2023, the number of people going to church every week went down. It was 36%, now 32%.

What was the percentage of Americans who never attended church in 2014 compared to 2023?

More Americans opted out of church from 2014 to 2023. The numbers went from 23% to 31%.

How has the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant changed from 2007 to 2023?

Between 2007 and 2023, the Protestant group in America decreased. It was 51%, now 33%.

What percentage of Americans belonged to a church or synagogue in 2023 compared to 1999?

In 1999, 70% were in a church or synagogue. In 2023, this fell to 45%.

In 2023, what percentage of adults described themselves as spiritual but not religious?

In 2023, 33% felt spiritual but not religious. This is less than the 47% who claimed to be religious.

Among those without a religious affiliation, what percentage cite dislike of organized religion as an important reason for their lack of religiosity?

About 68% without a religion don’t like organized religion. Yet, 54% feel they are still spiritual.

How do church attendance rates differ between adults under 45 and those 45 and older in 2023?

In 2023, 31% of those under 45 never attend services. This is more than the 22% among those 45 and older.

What percentage of adults had little or no trust in religious or spiritual leaders in 2023 compared to 2021?

In 2023, 53% lost faith in religious leaders. This is up from 39% in 2021.

Source Links

  1. https://news.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx – Religion
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2018/05/29/being-christian-in-western-europe/ – Being Christian in Western Europe
  3. https://apnorc.org/projects/people-without-a-religious-affiliation-lack-faith-in-organized-religion-not-in-spirituality/ – People without a religious affiliation lack faith in organized religion, not in spirituality – AP-NORC
  4. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/ – In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace
  5. https://www.churchtrac.com/articles/the-state-of-church-membership – ChurchTrac Blog
  6. https://www.daytondailynews.com/local/church-attendance-down-locally-but-message-of-faith-still-resonates/XDM3DPAMVBGQDESKCIXU6PXILI/ – Church attendance down locally, but message of faith still resonates
  7. https://news.gallup.com/topic/religion-and-social-trends.aspx – Religion and Social Trends | Gallup Topic
  8. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/09/13/how-u-s-religious-composition-has-changed-in-recent-decades/ – 1. How U.S. religious composition has changed in recent decades
  9. https://www.prri.org/research/religious-change-in-america/ – Religious Change in America | PRRI
  10. https://www.americansurveycenter.org/research/generation-z-future-of-faith/ – Generation Z and the Future of Faith in America
  11. https://www.churchtrac.com/articles/the-state-of-church-attendance-trends-and-statistics-2023 – ChurchTrac Blog
  12. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2023/03/28/how-the-pandemic-has-affected-attendance-at-u-s-religious-services/ – How the Pandemic Has Affected Attendance at U.S. Religious Services
  13. https://www.subsplash.com/blog/church-attendance-statistics – 2024 Church Attendance Statistics
  14. https://news.gallup.com/poll/507692/church-attendance-lower-pre-pandemic.aspx – U.S. Church Attendance Still Lower Than Pre-Pandemic
  15. https://www.pewresearch.org/religious-landscape-study/database/attendance-at-religious-services/ – Religious Landscape Study
  16. https://research.lifeway.com/2023/07/13/americans-trust-in-the-church-remains-near-historic-low/ – Americans’ Trust in the Church Remains Near Historic Low – Lifeway Research
  17. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2024/03/15/8-in-10-americans-say-religion-is-losing-influence-in-public-life/ – 8 in 10 Americans Say Religion Is Losing Influence in Public Life
  18. https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkd84b/gen-z-is-deconstructing-religion-and-finding-faith – Gen Z Is Deconstructing Religion And Finding Faith
  19. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2023/12/07/measuring-spirituality/ – 1. Measuring spirituality
  20. https://www.ministrybrands.com/church/management/growth-strategy/ – 17 Best Membership Growth Strategies
  21. https://www.vancopayments.com/egiving/blog/church-growth-strategies – 35 Church Growth Strategies That Work | Vanco
  22. https://careynieuwhof.com/7-ways-grow-church-attendance-increasing-engagement/ – 10 Ways to Grow Your Church (Growing Through Engagement)
  23. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace – In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace
  24. https://www.barna.com/research/changing-state-of-the-church/ – Signs of Decline & Hope Among Key Metrics of Faith – Barna Group
  25. https://donorbox.org/nonprofit-blog/church-statistics – 20 Surprising Church Statistics for 2024

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