Pandemic Propels Congregations Into Digital Age

A new study from The Hartford Institute for Religion Research reveals how congregations have adapted their use of technology since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-year study surveyed over 5,000 diverse faith communities.

Key findings show:

  • 75% of congregations now offer online worship, up from 45% before the pandemic, and most plan to continue virtual options long-term.
  • Congregations with more virtual attendees have seen growth, while those with more in-person have higher donations.
  • Beyond services, most programming has not shifted online, except for religious education and prayer groups.
  • Promoting online giving increases donations. Congregations using more technology also report greater vitality and optimism.

“The pandemic forced innovation in how congregations connect,” said Dr. Charissa Mikoski. “Technology has become essential, from online services to electronic giving. Embracing these tools seems key for congregations to thrive going forward.”

In summary, the study reveals that technology has become critical for congregations to engage their communities during the pandemic, and those utilizing it appear well-positioned for the future.

This is just one wave of a collaborative, five-year research project funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace. We will continue to release targeted analyses of more specific findings from our topical surveys. Our previous reports can be found here.

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