With the option to attend religious services in-person or online, most U.S. adults prefer to attend in-person, according to a Pew Research survey released on September 6.

Of those surveyed, 17% percent of Americans regularly attend religious services both in-person and watch online or on television. Of this, 13% prefer to attend in-person, 2% prefer watching online or on television and the remaining 2% do not have a preference. 

“Watching online is a great option when you are unable to attend – but joining together with other believers is how we truly fellowship. You cannot get that from watching from afar,” one respondent says. 

“Among those who prefer in-person religious services, the most common reason respondents give is a stronger sense of connection and community with fellow participants,” Michelle Faverio and Justin Nortey, both research analysts, wrote. “About half (52%) say this – more than three times the share who name any other reason.” 

An additional 14% of those surveyed who say they prefer in-person religious services rather than watching online also describe the service as more personal. Eight percent say that worship practices like communion and singing are better in person. Americans who preferred to attend a virtual religious service cited health concerns or convenience and safety. 

For Americans who watch multiple sermons online, respondents say “strong sermons” or “the message” (18%) and “specific leaders” (13%) are the reason. A smaller percentage watch to learn (7%) or to gain a different perspective (7%).

To view the questions used in this analysis, click here, and for the survey’s methodology, click here. To read the full report, click here.

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