Most U.S. adults affirm that worshipping alone is a valid alternative to corporate gatherings, according to a LifeWay Research report published Sept. 19.
When prompted with the statement, “Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church,” 66% of respondents said they agreed – 35% strongly and 31% somewhat. This is an eight-point increase from 2020.
Around one in five adults (24%) disagreed – 10% strongly and 14% somewhat – while 9% were not sure.
Mainline Protestants (73%) were more likely to agree than Evangelicals (56%) or Black Protestants (62%), while adults who attend services at least monthly (37%) were more likely to disagree than those who attend less often (15%).
A majority of respondents (55%) disagreed with the statement, “Every Christian has an obligation to join a local church” – 36% disagreed strongly and 19% disagree somewhat. By comparison, 37% agreed (18% strongly and 19% somewhat) and 9% were unsure.
“Religious identity, beliefs and behavior are interrelated,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, in a press release announcing the report. “When in-person church attendance behaviors were interrupted and habits were broken, it affected some Americans’ beliefs about the need to gather with other believers to worship.”
The survey also asked respondents to provide their views on several statements regarding theological and social issues. These included:
- God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam: 67% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God: 53% strongly / somewhat agree.
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe: 62% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth: 59% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Hell is a real place where certain people will be punished forever: 59% strongly / somewhat agree.
- The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true: 53% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin: 53% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Abortion is a sin: 53% strongly / somewhat agree.
- The Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches: 51% strongly / somewhat agree.
- Gender identity is a matter of choice: 42% strongly / somewhat agree.
“As a society, views on the Bible probably best summarize how split Americans are when it comes to theology,” said McConnell. “Half see Scripture as dependable and authoritative while half see it as fiction. Higher numbers acknowledge the story it tells, but more than half also give weight to their personal opinions.”
The survey was commissioned by Ligonier Ministries, an organization founded in 1971 by R.C. Sproul that promotes Reformed Theology.
A white paper released with the report noted that Ligonier “identified specific doctrines and heresies to test,” while LifeWay Research helped refine the survey to avoid bias and to ensure that average respondents would understand the questions.
The full report is available here. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points.