Weather is No. 1 reason Christians skip church services, but sleeping in ranks high, too


BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. — In north Georgia, people eagerly make their way into Blairsville’s First Baptist Church each Sunday.

An excitement has taken hold here that causes people not to want to miss worship services. Attendance has surpassed pre-COVID numbers. More than 80 people have joined the church in the past year. And nearly 40 have been baptized.

Not all churches are so fortunate, according to a Lifeway Research survey that quizzed churchgoers about the top reasons they skip church services.

Bad weather was the No. 1 reason churchgoers stay home.

“Sometimes churchgoers conclude it’s safer to skip church and not be on the roads,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, in an article outlining the findings . “But many will also skip church if they feel they have a better option.”

The online survey of 1002 churchgoers found that only 11 percent of churchgoers said they wouldn’t skip for any reason.

In bucking the trend, Blairsville First Baptist Pastor Ricky Powell said he’s sensing spiritual revival in his congregation.

“I’m grateful for that,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a silver bullet. What we try to do is just help people realize that church attendance is part of spiritual growth.”

Lifeway found that 77% of regular churchgoers say they would miss a weekly worship service at least once a year to avoid traveling in severe weather. The survey also found 55 percent would skip church to take part in an outdoor activity, 54 percent would play hooky to get some extra sleep, 50% would skip to spend time with friends, and 42% said they would forsake a church service to watch a sporting event.

Snow, ice and tornado watches would keep 77% of churchgoers home.

Lifeway found that watching sports was the least likely reason for churchgoers to skip Sunday services. Nearly 60% of Protestant churchgoers said sports would never cause them to miss church.

When it comes to sports, 46% of men said they were more likely to stay home to watch a game at least once a year. And 47% of women would miss because of foul weather.

“Those under 50 are more likely to miss worship services to enjoy an outdoor activity and meet friends than those 50 and older,” Lifeway said in an article outlining the findings. “In addition, the younger a churchgoer is, the more likely they are to stay in bed and sleep on Sunday mornings at least occasionally.”

Powell isn’t alone in seeing a growing excitement among churchgoers.

At Pleasant Valley North Baptist Church near Rome, 113 people joined the church last year and more than 30 were baptized. Pastor Mac McCurry said 10 people have been baptized in the past three weeks and 20 made salvation decisions in the church’s Vacation Bible School.

But, even amid the growth, McCurry said some of his members who stayed home during the COVID-19 pandemic still haven’t returned to regular church attendance.

“I’ve been surprised,” he said, “that they have not come back and been as faithful as they once were.”