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What do you look for in a new parish?


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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/23/16

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The folks at Pew have some insight, from Catholics and others:

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

…Meanwhile, 49% of American adults now attend religious services just a few times a year, rarely or never. A majority of them (27% of all U.S. adults) say they have never attended religious services more often than they do now. But a substantial proportion (22% of all U.S. adults) say they now go to religious services less often than they did at another point during adulthood.

Many of those whose religious attendance has become more frequent cite a change in their beliefs as the main reason, saying their increased attendance reflects the fact that they have become more religious or felt a need for God or religion in their lives. By contrast, among those whose attendance has waned, the most commonly offered reasons have to do with practical concerns, including many who say they are too busy to attend or cite other practical difficulties with getting to a church, synagogue, mosque or other house of worship, depending on their religion.

Quality of sermons, welcoming leaders and the style of worship services tend to be the key factors in why Americans overall choose the congregations they do, but for Catholics, nothing is more important than location. Fully three-quarters of Catholics who have looked for a new church (76%) say location was an important factor in their choice of parish, reflecting the geographically based system by which Catholics typically associate with a local church.

Check out the rest.

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