Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Biggest Reason for Declining Church Attendance: Children's Sports?

  • Religion Today Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Apr 09

Sunday morning used to be a time reserved by many Christians for attending worship services, but new research indicates the extent to which American churches today are competing against other activities -- the biggest competition being children's sports, Christianity Today reports. According to a study published in the Review of Religious Research, an examination of declining attendance at 16 congregations revealed that most pastors place the most blame on children's sports activities, since practices and competitions alike are increasingly "scheduled on Sunday mornings at the very time when many churches traditionally have provided religious education." However, that doesn't mean that families whose kids are highly involved in athletics will stop attending church. Instead, more Protestant churches are offering alternate service times to accommodate members with Sunday morning commitments. They're also increasing their emphasis on physical fitness programs or sports ministries. According to David Briggs of the Association of Religion Data Archives, "More than two-thirds of congregations who said sports and fitness programs were a specialty of the congregation reported more than a 10 percent growth in attendance from 2000 to 2010. In contrast, only a third of churches with no athletic programs reported such growth."