While the Easter holiday traditionally has brought the biggest boost in attendance for many U.S. churches, a new survey from LifeWay Research has found that one in five Americans are unsure if they will even find themselves in a pew this year come Resurrection Sunday – and many Christians are among that number.
Easter, which reportedly leads Christmas and Mother's Day in drawing big numbers to church, is arguably the most important Christian holiday, as it marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion, as described in the New Testament of the Bible.
However, LifeWay indicated that among the sample of 1,060 adult Americans surveyed who identified themselves as Christians, only 58 percent of Protestants and 57 percent of Catholics said they planned on attending Easter services. The research group found that 45 percent of nondenominational Christians said the same.
Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, expressed surprise that despite the significance of Easter, many self-professed Christians have no intention of marking the religious holiday at a worship service.
"Easter and Christmas are the most revered worship observances of the Christian faith," McConnell remarked. "The crux of the gospel is not just that Jesus came to earth in human form which we celebrate at Christmas, but that He lived a sinless life and was crucified in the place of mankind. God's acceptance of this payment for sin is seen in Him raising Jesus from the dead. This is what makes Easter so significant. Yet, surprisingly, many who call themselves Christian have no intentions of going to Easter services."
LifeWay Research also found that among those who only attend church on religious holidays, just 18 percent said they had no plans to attend on Easter, a statistic shared by the 92 percent who say they never go to church. Among the latter group, 19 percent said they had not made up their minds about attending an Easter service.
Overall, 41 percent of LifeWay's pooled sample said they were planning to attend a worship service this Sunday and 39 percent indicated that they had no such plans; 20 percent, however, had not made up their minds – and may just simply need an invitation.
"Christians who automatically attend church on Easter should be mindful of their many friends, neighbors and family members who haven't ruled out the idea of attending," suggested McConnell. "It may be that a personal invitation is what would make a difference to them."
LifeWay Research conducted its survey of 1,060 American adults on March 13, 2013, among a sample of an online panel representing the adult population of the U.S.
A diagram illustrating the survey results is shown below.
(Photo: LifeWay Resarch)