There’s no place like church for the holidays—if invited

About six out of 10 Americans attend a church worship service during the Christmas season. In this file photo from 2012, Rick Grant, associate pastor of music and education at Wylie Baptist Church in Abilene, notes his church’s Living Christmas Tree draws about 2,000 people annually to a church with an average Sunday morning attendance of 350. (Photo/Janet O’Dell)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Christmas is a great time to invite someone to church, a recent study by LifeWay Research reveals.

attend at Christmas 300In a poll of 1,000 people, LifeWay Research found six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime.

But among those who don’t attend church during the Christmas season, a majority—57 percent—say they likely would attend if someone they knew invited them.

“Regular churchgoers may assume the rest of America has already made up their mind not to attend church,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. “In reality, many would welcome going to a Christmas service with someone they know.”

invited Christmas 300Americans living in the South (66 percent) and Midwest (64 percent) are more likely to attend church during the Christmas season than those in the Northeast (57 percent) and West (53 percent).

Throughout the United States, more women than men are likely to attend Christmas church services—66 percent vs. 56 percent.

Those who attend church most frequently throughout the year (once a week or more) are the most likely (91 percent) to say they will attend church at Christmas.

Younger Americans are less likely to participate in a Christmas service than their elders. Fifty-three percent of those 18 to 24 say they attend church at Christmas, compared to 68 percent of those 65 and older and 67 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds.

reason to attend 450For those who do go to church at Christmas, more than three-fourths—77 percent—say their reason for attending is “to honor Jesus.” Other reasons Americans chose lagged considerably, with 9 percent saying they attend church at Christmas to be with family and friends, another 9 percent attend to observe tradition, and 3 percent go to get in the Christmas spirit.

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Even among the 29 percent of nonreligious who typically attend church at Christmas, 47 percent say it’s to honor Jesus, 20 percent say they do so to observe tradition, 27 percent to be with friends and family, and 6 percent to get in the Christmas spirit.

“Those invited to a church service at Christmastime may not attend for the same reasons as those who already plan to go. But the majority are open to going,” McConnell noted.

Researchers conducted the phone survey of Americans Sept. 14-28 using Random Digit Dialing. Fifty percent of completes were among landlines, and 50 percent were among cell phones. Analysts applied maximum quotas and slight weights for gender, region, age, ethnicity and education to reflect the population more accurately. The completed sample of 1,000 surveys provides 95 percent confidence the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.6 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

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