First off, how common is it for a person to increase their rate of religious attendance? 27% of Americans fall into this category–a reminder that, despite some popular perceptions, we actually live in a very open and curious society, where many are experiencing changes in their religious practices toward the positive.
So how do these Americans explain the reasons for changes?
- 49% mention changes in their personal religious beliefs as the main reason for attending more often
- 23% mention social factors, including changes in family structure (such as marriage or the birth of a child), entering different phases of life (e.g., going to college, joining the military, etc.) or a desire for fellowship or community
- 20% mention practical changes, such as having a work schedule that permits them to attend church more often now than in the past
Implications for Ministry:
- Changes in belief matter more than anything else. What beliefs are adults learning and entering into more deeply in your parish life? Is what’s emphasized the most something that would inspire increases in practice?
- Times of social transition are opportunities. This means thinking beyond sacramental preparation for baptism and marriage as “the” coming back moments. How are we aware and responding to these transitional life stages?
- Practical things–like transportation, universal accessibility, times of Mass/programs, childcare, etc.– matter, a not-insignificant 20% of the time. How can we remove practical barriers to increased participation, not as an afterthought, but as an intentional part of our local strategies.