Church Attendance Trends Around the Country

Infographics in Cities & States • May 26, 2017

A trusted measure of religiosity over the decades has been church attendance and, for the most part, Americans are attending church less. But those shifts have occurred in varying ways and at different rates throughout the diverse regions and cities across the country.

Barna’s latest report ranks the nation’s largest cities according to three different metrics related to church attendance: churched (very active), unchurched and dechurched. Those classified as churched (very active) have attended a church service in the past seven days, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral. Those classified as unchurched have not attended a church service in the past six months, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral. And finally, those classified as dechurched were formerly either very, somewhat or minimally active churchgoers, but have not attended a church service in the past six months, excluding a special event such as a wedding or a funeral.

Based on Barna’s most recent data, almost four in 10 (38%) Americans are active churchgoers, slightly more (43%) are unchurched, and around one-third (34%) are dechurched. But as you’ll see, there are great variations among American cities. We’ve ranked the top 20 according to the three key metrics:

Topping the list of the most churched cities in America are:

  1. Chattanooga, TN: 59%
  2. Salt Lake City, UT: 59%
  3. Augusta / Aiken, GA: 57%
  4. Baton Rouge, LA: 57%
  5. Birmingham / Anniston / Tuscaloosa, AL: 56%
Top 20 Churched CIties 2017

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Topping the list of unchurched cities are:

  1. San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA: 60%
  2. Reno, NV: 59%
  3. Springfield / Holyoke, MA: 57%
  4. Boston / Manchester, MA: 56%
  5. Las Vegas, NV: 55%
Top 20 Unchurched Cities 2017

And, finally, the top 5 dechurched cities include:

  1. San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA: 47%
  2. Boston / Manchester, MA: 46%
  3. Seattle / Tacoma, WA: 45%
  4. Portland / Auburn, ME: 45%
  5. Springfield / Holyoke, MA: 43%
Top 20 Dechurched Cities 2017

About the Research

The data reported in this table are based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 76,505 adults conducted over a seven-year period, ending in April 2016. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The data in this study were analyzed by DMA. The label “DMA” stands for Designated Market Area and represents a unique geographic area that also serves as a commonly accepted media market as defined by The Neilsen Company.  DMAs have been configured so that the entire U.S. is assigned to one – and only one – of 210 DMAs in the country and are based on the television viewing habits of the residents in each county. While there are 210 DMAs, this table contains data for just the top 20 in each category.

About Barna

Barna research is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

© Barna Group, 2017

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