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Most churchgoers support volunteering, but fewer serve

A gap exists between churchgoers who say they want to take part in a charity effort and those who do so, according to a new report by Lifeway Christian Resources.

In a report published Tuesday, Lifeway found that 86% of surveyed churchgoers said they want to serve people, including those outside the church, to advance the Gospel.

However, the report also revealed that 66% of respondents admitted to not having volunteered for a charity, whether affiliated with or separate from their church, in the past year.

Of those surveyed, 30% said they had volunteered in the past year, while 4% were unsure. As a comparison, Lifeway cited a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that 23% of the general U.S. population volunteered with an organization between September 2020 and September 2021.

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway, explained in a statement included in the report that their survey only focused on volunteering through a group and not individual actions.

“This study did not measure service churchgoers may have done individually for their neighbors. However, meeting such needs as they arise is a great service,” he said.

“But some of the most widespread needs in communities require volunteers working together, something that most churchgoers don’t do over a year.”

Lifeway drew its data from a survey of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers conducted Sept. 19-29, 2022, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%.

The research also found that 91% of churchgoers between the ages of 18-49 reported a desire to serve people not affiliated with their church, compared to 79% of those older than 65. However, 40% of respondents over 65 told pollsters that they participated in volunteer work in the past year, making them the most likely group to do so.

Additionally, those who attend a worship service one to three times a month were more likely not to have volunteered in the past year than those who attend four or more times a month (73% vs. 60%), and respondents with Evangelical beliefs were more likely to have volunteered in the past year than those who did not hold Evangelical opinions (37% vs. 25%).

Among Christian religious groups, Lutherans were the most likely to have reported volunteering with a group in the past year (53%), followed by Baptists (29%), Church of Christ members, and those affiliated with non-denominational churches (both at 28%) and Methodists (7%).

According to a report from the American Bible Society released last November, American Christians who are heavily engaged with Scripture gave approximately $145 billion to charity in 2021.

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