The Top Ten Lowest Attended Sundays In U. S. Churches

Most pastors, staff, and active church members have a good idea when attendance will drop on a given Sunday. Churches develop a discernible pattern that is repeated each year. 

We asked over 400 people, mostly church leaders, to identify their lowest attended Sundays on a recurring basis. Though our study was not scientific (comments and likes on two social media channels plus our Church Answers community,) the large number of responses developed into a clear pattern. 

To be clear, every church is different, and every community is different. Different contexts give different responses. For example: 

  • A congregation with a lower median age will likely have a lower Mother’s Day attendance than a church with older congregants. The younger church members travel to their mother’s home.
  • Hunting and fishing season can adversely affect church attendance. Deer season was mentioned most frequently.
  • Travel and Sunday sports can be a killer to church attendance. Sunday sports for kids and youth have become the newest god to worship.
  • Geographic location is important. For example, a church in a warm destination may have an influx of “snowbirds” in the winter, and then a decline when they leave.
  • The weather of the day is an important factor too. If it’s raining, attendance will be down. If it’s sunny and warm, attendance will be down. In the South, if a snow flurry is forecast for Sunday, the grocery stores are packed on Saturday, and the churches are nearly empty as the people contend with 1/16th inch of snow on the ground.

Still, most churches have a pattern of low attendance that is consistent. Here are the top ten responses we received, ranked by frequency of response. 

  1. Father’s Day.
  1. The Sunday after Thanksgiving day.
  1. Memorial Day weekend Sunday.
  1. Labor Day weekend Sunday.
  1. The Sundays before and after Christmas.
  1. The Sunday nearest the Fourth of July.
  1. The Sunday nearest to New Year’s Day.
  1. Time changes: spring forward.
  1. Spring and fall break Sundays.
  1. Summer Sundays, particularly in July.

Do these low attendance days align with your church’s low attendance days? What is the lowest-attended day in your church? Let me hear from you.