Many church leaders are seeking new ways to reach their communities and connect with audiences across generations. Familiarizing yourself with the current church trends can make all the difference in achieving these goals.
For this post, we’ve sourced five statistics and trends that church leaders should be aware of in 2023. Let’s dive in ⬇️
While Gen Z is the most unchurched generation, it’s also the most open generation to spirituality according to a study conducted by the Barna Group.
The study details behaviors of Gen Z like their tendency to question and deconstruct the religious beliefs they grew up with more than any other generation. While this may seem threatening, the same study revealed that Gen Z is also the most spiritually open generation.
In fact, 59% of Gen Z respondents said they are more receptive to God now than they were before the pandemic. This openness contrasts with the attitudes of only 34% of Boomers who feel similarly.
So how do church leaders reach Gen Z?
Meet them where they are.
Which is online, on their phones, on their apps. Learn more in our blog Unlock the Potential of Your Church's (Digital) Front Door.
As cashless payment options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet become more popular, many individuals are opting to make purchases and donations digitally. In fact, a recent survey found that over 60% of individuals are willing to donate to their church digitally. This trend towards digital payment options is also reflected in the Nonprofits Source research, which found that churches that accept online tithing see a 32% increase in overall donations.
By providing a variety of digital giving options, such as mobile payment apps and online donation platforms, churches can cater to the growing number of individuals who prefer to give digitally. This not only makes it easier for members to donate but also ensures that churches are not missing out on potential donations from those who may not carry cash or prefer not to use traditional giving methods.
With the growing popularity of digital payment options, it is essential for churches to adapt to these changes and provide convenient and secure digital giving options.
A study conducted by Barna Research highlights fluctuations in church attendance among all generations during the pandemic, but with a particular focus on Millennials. From 2019 to 2022, the percentage of Millennials reporting weekly church attendance increased from 21% to 39%, marking a shift in church attendance patterns.
One in five adults primarily attend church online, and one in four attend both online and in-person worship. Millennial adults are most likely to embrace the hybrid option of online and in-person worship.
For more information, read Millennial Church Attendance and Trends According to Barna Research.
An effective online presence can actually drive demand for in-person experiences as the line between online and real life continues to blur. In fact, a strong online presence can fuel and enhance in-person experiences rather than compete with them.
One example of how a strong online presence can drive demand for in-person experiences is online shopping. As more retailers offer online shopping options, consumers are able to easily browse and purchase products from the comfort of their homes. However, this convenience and ease of access has also driven demand for in-person experiences, such as the ability to see and touch products in-store, receive personalized recommendations from knowledgeable staff, and participate in in-store events and experiences. Retailers who have successfully integrated their online and in-person experiences have seen significant benefits and growth in their business.
As we look towards the future of The Church, it's clear that a robust online experience will lead to a growing demand for in-person experiences, resulting in deeper connections and greater impact.
Before the pandemic, only 27% of churches offered live-streaming services, but post-pandemic, that number surged to 92%, according to Lifeway Research.
As we look to get back to “normal” life, some churches have scaled back their online presence in hopes of increasing in-person attendance. This thinking will ultimately hurt those churches who have limited their channels to reach and connect with new attendees.
The bottom line is that today, the typical first-time guest to your church is coming at the end of a long process. It may be their first time through the physical front door, but the actual front door of the church – the first one they entered – was digital. – James Emery White, Church & Culture
Let’s take a look at the airline industry, which has made significant changes to its offerings and services based on consumer demand. For instance, in-flight Wi-Fi was once a luxury offered on only a few select flights, but as the demand for connectivity grew, airlines began to offer it on more flights as a standard amenity.
Similarly, churches can learn from the airline industry and adapt to meet the needs of their communities. By embracing technology and making it a standard part of their operations, churches can increase their reach and engagement with members, both online and in person.