Not All in One Accord

COVID changed a whole lot of things (think about that the next time you order DoorDash after your Zoom meeting). But is church after COVID one of the things that changed?

Of course, there was the shakeout due to the pandemic – the infrequent churchgoers who stopped attending altogether, the elderly churchgoers who no longer feel safe in crowds, and the churches that closed their doors for good as a result of the drop in attendance. But there have been other changes as well.

Church After COVID report coer

The new report Church After COVID: Changes in Evangelical Engagement from Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts explores some of the areas where church is different today than it was just five years ago.

Digital Is Bigger, but Still Small

Prior to the pandemic, 5% of all churchgoing evangelicals first found the church they regularly attended by viewing services digitally. In the midst of the pandemic (2020 and 2021), this doubled, to 10%. Among evangelicals who began with their current church in 2022 or more recently, 15% found their current church by first attending digitally.

This means two things. First, the proportion who find a church digitally has tripled since COVID-19 started. As more and more of our lives move online, it’s reasonable to assume this proportion will continue to increase.

But at the moment, 76% are still finding a church the old-fashioned way: walking through the doors into a worship service. (The remaining 9% first attended an event, such as a festival or concert).

An Unexpected Benefit

No one would call the pandemic a good thing, but it appears something positive may have come out of all the confusion. The standard “expectation” is weekly church attendance. Today, 26% of evangelical Protestants attend both in-person and digital services once a week or more. In 2019, Lifeway Research found just 22% of Protestant churches livestreamed their entire service.  This means there are few measurements available about the use of digital church pre-pandemic. However, it appears likely that for a segment of the evangelical population, COVID may have actually led to an increase in the frequency of church attendance.

What Else Will You Learn?

Just a few more nuggets from the Church After Covid:

  • Digital is often seen as the domain of younger people, but only 4% of evangelicals under age 35 found their current church by first viewing a digital service.
  • Fifty-nine percent of churchgoing evangelicals were invited to a service or event by someone they knew prior to visiting that church.
  • The younger the evangelical, the more likely it is their first contact with their current church was an event rather than a worship service.
  • The older the evangelical, the less likely it is their introduction to their current church came through an invitation.
  • Evangelicals cite an average of 5.3 different factors for why they selected their current church. Two-thirds cite the teaching/sermons; the same proportion cite the congregation (e.g., already knowing people who attend, the size of the church, the fact that “people like me” attend there).

There’s a lot more detail and nuance in the full report. Church After COVID: Changes in Evangelical Engagement, is a study of 819 evangelical Protestant churchgoers. For a free copy of Church After COVID, simply e-mail


How Can We Help You?

Grey Matter has helped scores of organizations understand their current constituents and their target market. This includes a wide variety of denominations and individual churches, donor-supported organizations (faith-based and non-faith-based), marketing/advertising/fundraising agencies, and for-profit companies.

We’ve explored how connected pastors are to their denomination, helped develop Bible study materials, learned why donors favor certain ministries, and dozens of other important topics.

How can we help you?

We have A Passion for Research That Makes a Difference. Talk to us about how we can make a difference for you.