By Jason DeRusha

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a tough economy, many have speculated that church attendance would increase because people are turning to a higher power for help. But is that what really happens? How many of us go to church?

The answer is surprisingly stable, according to Penny Edgell, a University of Minnesota sociologist who specializes in religion.

According to the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Minnesotans say they go to religious services at least once a week.

The national average is 39 percent, so Minnesotans are right in the middle of the nation.

“After peaking in the 1950s, that number has been pretty steady,” said Edgell.

There are shifts — as people go from one religion to another. But the number of people who regularly go to church, has been constant as long as researchers have been keeping track.

“Women attend more than men. They’re more spiritual and they’re joiners,” Edgell said.

Also, married people go more than single people, and married people with kids go the most.

“African-American go at very high rates. Historically, the church is very important to the black community,” she said.

According to Pew, 59 percent of those who say they belong to Historically Black Protestant Churches go to church at least once a week. That compares to 58 percent of Evangelical Protestant Churches, and 34 percent of mainline Protestant Church members.

Jehovah’s Witnesses go at the highest rate, 82 percent go at least once a week. Seventy-five percent of Mormons go weekly as do 40 percent of Catholics and Muslims.

Sixteen percent of Jews report going to synagogue at least once a week.

Many people say they’re too busy to go to church regularly, but according to Edgell, that’s never been proven to be a factor.

“People say that. But the best studies that we’ve seen suggest that there’s not much relationship between say the number of hours you might work at a paid job or your amount of other activities or your church attendance. In fact, people who go to church tend to do a lot of other  things. They tend to be joiners. They’re quite busy,” she said.

However, much like the 1960s were a shift downward in church-going, sociologists are watching to see what happens over the next decade.

“We do see less church attendance among younger generations, but it’s not clear- are they going to go to church when they get older? The indicators are maybe they won’t. Maybe there will be a long term, because younger generations are less religious,” said Edgell.

Jason DeRusha

Comments (21)
  1. insignificant says:

    “church” is way too buildingish of a term…”assembly” sounds much better as it says PEOPLE,and is the proper translation…alot of people seek god only after they’ve hit rock bottom(jail,divorce,poverty,ect…)…alot of young people don’t go because they see the hypocracy that goes on in families,and at younger ages…with approximately 30,000 differant denominations out there,all claiming to have the only truth in interpretations of the bible books,it gets confusing,eh?…even certain denominations now are calling themselves non-denominational and soon there will be non-denominational non-denominationals…used to be every society had one assembly place to meet,and everyone knew everyone….now it’s all infinately dividing into nothing…thats my opinion and im sticking to it

  2. insignificant says:

    oh yeah,i almost forgot the money grubbing end of the deal…the 10% of an income supporting the so-called leader/pastor/minister/rabbi/ who is “doing the lords work” doing nothing actually,but growing his his/her hindside sittin around instead of actually working…i’ve personally seen people run outta a church cause some guys beggin for money every sunday,or taking scriptures outta context to justify why the assembly should buy his new car and fancy new furniture

    1. Marilyn says:

      A lot of us clergy put in 60 to 70 hours a week with one day off. We’re on call 24/7. Most of us put in those hours for relatively low pay. It’s not uncommon to be called in the middle of the night to rush to an emergency room or attend a death…or to cut a vacation short because of someone’s need. We do it because we’re called to the work and because we love people. We have this indescribable privilege of being with people in their greatest joys and deepest grieving. There are those who do give us a bad name, though. They’re the ones who manipulate and abuse the calling and the people for their own ends. I hope you’ll take another look sometime. There are some really good clergy out there. Thanks for listening.

    2. Matthew 21:13 says:

      Insignificant – Agreed. Church is too buildingish of a term. I’d go for “assembly” over “church” any day.

      About the denominations. It’s a shame that what used to be a holy assembly of people gathering for worship has now turned into who is selling the best kool-aid (aka, who’s selling the “truth”).

      However, if you have experienced that “money thirsty” type of church and had a bad taste in your mouth — good. Christ would agree with your sentiments.

      Remember the whole scene Christ threw at the synagogue where he upturned tables and screamed at the people who were making God’s house of worship into “a den of thieves”? (Matt. 21:13) My point exactly.

      So, if that is the type of church Christ would be against… what type of church/assembly/gathering of people would he approve of? Good question. There is no perfect church. There is no perfect person. But, there is a perfect Christ who promises to radically change our lives for good, no matter what our crazy world has done against Him. Don’t give up on Christ because of how society has marred his reputation.

  3. C says:

    Insignificant, you should come check out our church on Sunday, the one talked about in the video, Hope Community Church. I’m sure any one of our pastors would love to talk with you afterward about what the bible says about tithing, and how they talk about it (or not) in sermons. Oh, the 11am or 7pm services have more seating than the 9am service. 🙂 But seriously, come pick our/their brains! Honesty and real questions welcome.

    1. Roger Messner says:

      Tru dat Insignifcant. I am so sorry that has been your experience. I TOTALLY feel your pain, & respect your opinion but do not give up on Christ. Please come visit us & don’t give a dime, please be our guest.

  4. Michele says:

    My husband and I try to attend church three weekends out of every month.Faith is very important to us, and the sense of community our church offers us has been an amazing benefit to myself though the years. Having said that I believe that one does not need to go to a church in order to have faith, or believe in a higher power.

  5. The Trend says:

    Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for straight people.

    Nuff said.

    1. Luke says:

      That is not what was or is said…Jesus died on the cross for all no matter what sin we are in…All have sinned and fall short but Jesus Saves!!!

  6. Mandi says:

    I find it sad that people get wrapped up in these cults. I hate to be mean about it but that is exactly what these are. I just hope people DON’T give their money to these places. You can’t “buy” your way into heaven (if you believe in that stuff). Sorry, but it’s the truth

  7. Andrew says:

    If churches want higher attendance then all they have to do is demonstrate their God claims are true with evidence and reason. Until they do, people are justified in not believing religious claims and should stay away.

    1. Just Sayin' says:

      You are extremely right in saying that if you believe “in that stuff” (I’m guessing the Bible) you know that you can not buy your way in to heaven! The money given to churches should be given from a heart of service in order to help out your place of worship (“free coffee” costs money and so does utilities). And like someone said before, most “Churches”, or what ever you want to call them, are open to guests that are under no obligation to give financially.

  8. Rev. Victoria says:

    It’s imperialistic of CBS to use the word “church” to refer to the worship gatherings of faith communities who are not Christian. Jews, Muslims, etc. do not refer to their worship gatherings or their places of worship as “church.” I would expect CBS to report this story using accurate and factual language. To use the word “church” does NOT include people of faith who are not Christian–even if you happen to mention them in the story. A Jew may regularly attend communal worship in synagogue–that does not mean he regularly goes to “church.” We have many Minnesotans of faith who are not Christian. CBS, please learn more about these communities and report on them accurately.

  9. Jay says:

    It’s interesting isn’t it the gap between Evangelical Protestants (58%) and Mainline Protestants (34%). It almost appears that we mainliners are missing something.

  10. Hannah says:

    “Church” is a building but being the way I was brought up, it would also be a congregation of people that wish to worship a certain way. I don’t believe it states in the Bible that people have to go to worship to get to Heaven, but it does help if you are around those kind of people that want to worship the same as you do. I have seen people go to worship and then afterwards on the way home, start being hipocrites! Those people should stay home!

    1. josh says:

      actually the bible dose say you have to “go to worship,” you can read the account at Hebrews 10:23-25.

    2. Just Sayin' says:

      All people are hipocrites! We all sin!! And no you dont need to worship to go to heaven but you need to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and if you believe that then you, more than likely, will want to worship him! And as josh says God tells us to. But if we don’t, we wont be “locked out of” heaven.

  11. Beth says:

    But truthfully, going to church does not mean that you claim to be perfect. So not being perfect on the way home does not make a person a hypocrite. I go to church because I love the Lord and want to try to know Him better. But I do sin a lot during the week. I do desire to try to follow God’s ways, but I am just not always very good at following through on it. I wish people would see church as a place you can go if you know you are a sinner and want to know God better and learn about Him. Not a place to go if you want to act perfect.

  12. Matt says:

    A lot of good comments on here. I have a friend that I talked to a couple of weeks ago who said that he quit going to the church he was attending because they were always begging for more money.

    There are also “Health and Wealth Gospel” churches. Bogus all the same. Read the book of Job

    Beth makes an excellent point about going to a church not equaling thinking you’re perfect. I go to Hope, (the church featured in the article.) I’m a sinner, and so is my friend Roger Messner (Previous poster, fellow “hopester”) 😀

    Giving money to a Church is to be an act of worship. If you don’t think it has value why would you give money to it? If God is who the church claims he is, he’ll do what he’s going to do with or without your $20 a week.