A study from Pew Research revealed that in-person attendance remains low despite many congregations opening their doors for religious services.

Religion News reported that the Pew Research survey stressed that there was no increase in the number of people attending in-person religious services over the past six months. The study said that the number of people attending online services remained constant for the same time period.

The Pew Research survey, which was undertaken on March 7 to 13 on 10,441 American adults, indicated 27% of respondents have attended in-person services for the period. This is lower than the 67% that typically do for the same period previously. The data only showed a slight increase to that recorded in September at 26% when coronavirus cases surged in the country. While data for online streaming attendees is currently shown at 30% and 28% in September.

"Two-thirds of U.S. adults who typically attend religious services monthly say they have done so in person in the last month," Pew Research said.

The authors of the study suggested that the plateau in the number of persons attending religious service onsite could rise if the pandemic continues to decline. But it will continue to drop if a new coronavirus variant emerges. The number of people watching services will prove to be higher than it did before the pandemic began in March 2020.

The Pew Research study reveals that 21% of adults admit to not returning to their churches for onsite religious services despite attending online monthly. Only 5% of respondents said their churches remain closed for in-person services. Though all respondents across categories revealed "a rise in the number of congregations holding services as they did before the pandemic."

Black Protestant respondents were the Christian group who mostly participated in online religious services or on television last February. The said group showed deep religious commitments over mainline Protestants and evangelicals who similarly attended online services last month. This particular data affirm prior studies that Black churchgoers were more cautious in keeping protected from COVID-19.

In terms of political affiliation, only 27% of Democratic congregants versus 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning congregants affirm the opening of their churches similar to what it was before the pandemic.

A similar study was conducted by sociologist Scott Thumma. The study's initial results, which Thumma intends to run for five years, presents the difficulties encountered by congregations during the pandemic. The initial findings showed a slight increase in the number of persons attending onsite from last summer to November.

Thumma's study, unlike the Pew Research study, was based on data gathered from religious congregations. Thumma stressed that the full impact of the pandemic on churches won't be known until after a few years.

"People are still hesitant to go back. Clergy are still struggling with convincing people to come back. A lot of people are either content to not go or rely on online services," Thumma said.

In an interview with Yale, Thumma said that providing contemporary services should go hand in hand with the spirit of innovation for megachurches and mainland churches to grow.

"What they do have in common is a willingness to change and experiment with technology and reach out to new people," Thumma stressed.