Friday, February 2, 2024

Pandemic Propels Congregations into Digital Age, New Study Shows 

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released findings Feb. 2 from its multi-year study Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations showing how churches and other faith communities have adapted their use of technology since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The multi-year study surveyed over 5,000 congregations representing diverse faith traditions.

Key findings show: 

  • 75% of congregations now offer online or virtual worship, up from 45% pre-pandemic. Most plan to continue virtual options long-term. 
  • Congregations with more virtual than in-person attendees have seen growth, while those with more in-person have higher per capita giving. 
  • Beyond worship services, most programming has not shifted online. Religious education and prayer groups are exceptions. 
  • Emphasizing online giving boosts per capita donations. Congregations using more technology also report greater vitality and optimism. 

“The pandemic necessitated innovation in how congregations connect with their communities,” said Dr. Charissa Mikoski, postdoctoral research fellow. “It’s clear technology has become critical, from online worship to electronic giving. Congregations embracing these tools appear well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead.” 

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research conducted the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study with support from Lilly Endowment Inc. Full findings are available here.

For further information contact Mikoski at cmikoski@hartfordinternational.edu