Church attendance: National and local trends

A consulting firm that says its mission is to help pastors “grow healthy churches” says church attendance is up in the U.S.

Across the board, the report from The Unstuck Group (The Unstuck Group | Consulting & Leadership Coaching) found that 22% more people are attending worship services regularly this year over last and that the country’s churches have essentially recovered from the pandemic.

Locally, we asked the head of the Gainesville-based Chattahoochee Baptist Association (CBA) if that is true of the churches it serves.

“If you compare 2019 (pre-Covid) combined worship attendance for our 80 or so congregations vs. the low point in 2021, we were down 22%,” said CBA Director of Missions Dr. C.J. (JoJo) Thomas.  “However, attendance numbers for the following year rebounded 13%.” He said that in “real numbers,” CBA congregations reported a combined weekly worship attendance of just over 16,379 in 2019,12,671 in 2021, and 14,333 in 2022.  

“When it comes to overall attendance, we don’t yet have the 2023 stats, but we expect there will be a further increase vs. 2022,” Dr. Thomas added.  

We also put the same question to a spokeswoman for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“While online worship attendance has skyrocketed in recent years, in-person worship attendance is down at many churches,” Communications Director Sybil Davidson said. “The trend toward more online worship participation actually led the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church to launch our first online-only new church start, called The Harbor UMC (”

Davidson added the conference is also focusing on launching new “faith communities” outside the walls of churches. “We call these Fresh Expressions of church. There are at least two in the Gainesville area. You can read about those here:”

Fresh Expressions is part of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church’s Strategic Growth Plan adopted in June for the years ahead, which is explained here: ( 

(SRN News contributed to this report.)