Lifeway Research published a report that cites some major shifts in beliefs that were impacted by the pandemic. Two of these research points are of particular interest. First, 66% of Americans believe that worshipping alone or with family is a valid replacement for church attendance. Second, 56% of Americans do not believe that Christians have a responsibility to formalize membership in a local church.
While many traditional doctrinal beliefs remained static, personal involvement with and through an in person connection with a local congregation was impacted most, as people discovered online experiences, personal expressions of worship, or both. Currently, post pandemic church attendance is only 74% of what it was before the lock downs began. Churches who are seeing near pre-pandemic attendance were those who returned to worship early, while the most negatively affected churches are those who remained closed for an extended period of time.
Church growth experts suggest that those who left during the pandemic are unlikely to return to worship. Some of these gravitated to other churches that opened their doors to worshippers early, but the majority have not returned in person to worship, and perhaps will not in the foreseeable future. Those who have found numeric increases are churches that have redoubled their efforts on reaching new, unchurched people.