By Dr. James Emery White, Crosswalk.com
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center has found that even with the light at the end of the tunnel – even with increasing numbers of people receiving the vaccine and feeling more confident in returning to a sense of normalcy – most Christians will stay home this Easter from indoor, in-person services. Only 39% say they plan on attending, down from the typical 62%.
Even those planning on attending favor keeping masking and social distancing in place at all times. They feel we’re almost there, but not quite. In fact, the percentage of regular attenders who say that they have attended in person in March came in at only 17%.
I’m not surprised.
Only half of all churches are open at all, even with precautions in place.
The return to pre-pandemic levels of in-person religious attendance is much slower among Black Protestants. Only 21% said they are attending in-person services now and only 31% plan to attend at Easter—far lower than the 68% who typically attend. The pandemic has hit Black Americans especially hard, and that may be one reason.
Where will churchgoers celebrate Easter? About 80% of all religious attenders said their place of worship offers online services, and that appears to be where the majority will attend.
At Mecklenburg Community Church, where I pastor, our Easter plans are set. We will be having multiple outdoor celebrations. Each service is pre-ticketed to ensure the appropriately sized crowd in light of the socially distanced “circles” we are creating that will allow up to six people per circle. While still serving thousands, it ticketed out weeks ago and will still keep the bulk of our church online for a separate Easter celebration service.
When Jesus rose again, the announcement was limited to a single individual named Mary.
It seemed to spread.
James Emery White
Yonat Shimron, “Poll: 4 in 10 US Christians Plan to Attend In-Person Easter Services,”Religion News Service, March 22, 2021, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.