What do we know about frequent attendees?

The most common worshiper is someone who reports attending every week. This group makes up 83% of all worshipers. [See footnote 1.] Are they different in any way from the less frequent worshiper — the 17% who attend services occasionally? READ ON!

Denomination or faith group

Worshipers in Catholic parishes are more likely to be frequent attendees than worshipers from other faith groups. While 88% of Catholic worshipers attend weekly, only 78% of those attending Protestant congregations and congregations of other faith groups attend weekly. Catholicism emphasizes the importance of attending Mass and this expectation yields more frequent attendance among Catholics.

Long-term attendance

Long-term commitment to the congregation is related to higher rates of worship attendance. Weekly worshipers are twice as likely to be found among those who have been attending the congregation for 20 years or more.

Involvement in other congregational activities

Those who attend worship week after week are twice as likely as occasional worshipers to be involved in congregational small groups (such as church or Sabbath school; prayer, discussion, or Bible study groups; or social or fellowship groups) and other congregational activities (such as evangelism activities or community service). They are also twice as likely to hold a leadership position in the parish or congregation.

Big givers

Worshipers who attend weekly are three times as likely as other worshipers to give 10% or more of their income to the congregation (21% compared to just 7%). Weekly worshipers are twice as likely to give 5% or more of their income (30% compared to 15%). Clearly, regular attendance fosters greater financial support for the congregation. A large percentage of occasional attendees (40%) report they give a small amount whenever they are in services.

Gender

While more women sit in the pews, there is barely a gender difference in how frequently people attend services. Women are only slightly more likely to attend worship on a weekly basis than men. 62% of all frequent worshipers are women; 59% of less frequent worshipers are women.

Age

People 65 years of age and older attend services more frequently than the average worshiper. Younger adults, between 25 and 44 years, attend religious services less frequently than worshipers in other age groups.

Work

Frequent worshipers are more likely to be retired than those who attend less often. Occasional worshipers are more likely to report full- or part-time employment.

Education and income

Surprisingly, looking at education and household income won’t help you identify frequent worshipers. Weekly attendees are neither more educated nor less educated than those who attend less often. Additionally, annual income is not related to the frequency of attendance of worshipers.

Race, ethnicity, and nationality

Whites are slightly more likely to be weekly attendees than Black or Hispanic attendees. Weekly worshipers are more likely to have been born in the United States. Current residents born outside the U.S. in non-English speaking countries are less frequent in their attendance than other worshipers.

Marital status

Married people, especially those in their first marriages, are more likely to go to religious services on a weekly basis. Those who have never been married are less frequent in their worship attendance. Widowed people are also over-represented among the weekly worshipers, being almost twice as likely to be present as other types of singles.

Children

People with children residing at home were less frequent in their attendance than those with no children at home.

Travel time

It’s not living closer that gets weekly worshipers there more often. Frequent attendees spend the same amount of time traveling to worship as those who come less often.

Footnote

Because the survey was given in worship, more frequent attendees are more likely to have been present on the day it was given. For example, someone who attends worship services every week is sure to have been there no matter which week it was given. Someone who attends only once a month would be far less likely to have been in worship on that day.