The number of women attending church services is dropping, according to a study from The Barna Group. Among the findings:
No population group among the sixty segments examined has gone through more spiritual changes in the past two decades than women. Of the 14 religious factors studied, women have experienced statistically significant changes related to 10 of them. Of those transitions, eight represent negative movement – that is, either less engagement in common religious behaviors or a shift in belief away from biblical teachings.
Five of the six religious behaviors tracked showed significant change.
Church attendance among women sank by 11 percentage points since 1991, declining to 44%. A majority of women no longer attend church services during a typical week.
Bible reading has plummeted by 10 percentage points, declining from half of all women reading the Bible during a typical week (excluding that done during church events) to just four out of ten doing so today (40%).
Sunday school involvement is less common among women these days, down seven points from the 24% mark noted in 1991.
Women have traditionally been the backbone of volunteer activity in churches. However, there has been a nine point slide in the percentage of women helping out at a church during any given week. That drop reflects a 31% reduction in the non-paid female work force at churches.
The only religious behavior that increased among women in the last 20 years was becoming unchurched. That rose a startling 17 percentage points – among the largest drops in church attachment identified in the research.
The only religious behavior tracked among women that stayed stable was the percentage who attended a church of 600 or more people, which has remained at 16%.
The study does not appear to break down attendance by denomination. There are other interesting data sets on the church and economics, the church and race, and regional considerations. Check out the series here, and read an older entry about women and the church here here.