A quarter of UK adults engage with religious services online during lockdown
A new nationwide poll of 2,101 UK adults by Savanta ComRes for Christian relief & development agency Tearfund has some interesting insights into behaviours of how people engage with church during the lockdown amongst the four nations.
A quarter (24%) of UK adults say they have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown.
The lockdown has seen an explosion in churches using online platforms like Facebook and YouTube to hold their Sunday services, holding mid-week Bible studies or even prayer meetings. So much so that Facebook introduced new features for live streams that are tailored to faith-based organisations.
Churches have always pondered how to reach more people, and it seems that this epidemic situation means the use of technology is one way of doing it;
One in twenty UK adults (5%) who say they have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown have never gone to church.
I would say that this figure would jump significantly if you include those who only go during Christmas or Easter services. I know from my own conversations with friends that they have explored church more as it has gone fully online under the UK’s restrictions.
The survey also found that younger generations are engaging with more faith-based media than over 55s;
A third (34%) of UK adults aged 18-34 say they have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown (on the radio, live on TV, on demand or streamed online) this compares to one in five (19%) adults aged 55+.
There is also a gender skew as to who consumes more;
Men are significantly more likely than women say they have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown (on the radio, live on TV, on demand or streamed online) (28% vs. 21% respectively).
So what can the church learn from this?
I know from my own experiences with Westminster Chapel on YouTube, it’s hard to fully understand what works unless you stick at it. And in several of the Facebook groups I’m in, there are always discussions about best practice and how ministries should be promoting their online content.
This research shows that online church is being consumed and is reaching those who hadn’t engaged with faith before the lockdown.
My thoughts are that we should continue to make this content and share it with our friends and family. Right now, there is a whole load of uncertainty and I believe that Christianity can offer some answers and comfort right now.
The full survey focuses on the role of prayer during lockdown, with results on consuming online religious content a part of the results.
Nearly half of adults in the UK (44%) say they pray.
Over half of those who pray (56%) agree that prayer changes the world.
Tearfund are responding to the coronavirus pandemic around the world by providing crucial hygiene and sanitation assistance to minimise the risk of infection. To find out more about Tearfund’s work and to make a donation, please visit tearfund.org/covidinfo.
- Tearfund: “Many Brits look to faith during lockdown“
- Savanta ComRes: Tearfund COVID-19 Prayer Public Omnibus Research
Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash.