Less than one-third of churchgoers say they volunteered for a charity or ministry the previous years, according to a new Lifeway Research survey that also found that most congregations encourage their members to be active in service.
The poll of 1,002 American Protestant churchgoers found that 30 percent answered “yes” when asked if they participated in “any type of volunteer work for a charity (ministry, church, or non-ministry)” the previous year. Two-thirds (66 percent) said they did not.
Among churchgoers who attend services four or more times a month, it’s 37 percent. Among evangelicals, it’s also 37 percent, according to the poll.
A Lifeway Research analysis of the survey noted that government data shows 23 percent of Americans say they volunteer.
“The easiest way to serve others is when a charity or group organizes the effort,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “They recognize the need, come up with a plan and often gather needed resources. You just have to show up. Churchgoers say they want to, but less than a third showed up to help a charity in the previous year.”
Meanwhile, 84 percent of churchgoers say their congregation encourages people to be involved in “ministries or projects that serve people in our community not affiliated with our church.” And 86 percent of churchgoers say they want to serve people in their community “not affiliated with my church to hopefully have opportunities to tell them about the Gospel.”
“This study did not measure service churchgoers may have done individually for their neighbors. Meeting such needs as they arise is a great form of service,” McConnell said. “But some of the most widespread needs in communities require volunteers working together, something that the majority of churchgoers don’t do over the course of a year.”
The survey was released Tuesday.
Photo courtesy: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Robert Daly
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.