By Cynthia Woolever
1. There are more women in church because women live longer than men.
In every age group, women outnumber men in the pews.
Neither part of this statement is true. There are more women among weekly attendees and among those who are less frequent worshipers. Women are only slightly more likely to attend worship on a weekly basis than men. Sixty-two percent of all frequent worshipers are women; 59% of less frequent worshipers are women.
3. More men attend conservative Protestant churches.
The highest percentage of men attending worship services occurs among worshipers ages 15 to 24 in Catholic parishes (56% are women; 44% are men). And the lowest percentage of men in the pew also occurs in Catholic parishes—among attendees age 65 and older (64% are women and 36% are men). Yet the gender imbalance remains remarkably consistent across age groups and faith traditions—ranging from 56% to 64% women in the pews. For Catholics and mainline Protestants, the percentage of women in the pews tends to rise slightly as worshipers age.
Women always outnumber men, regardless of the number of people in worship. The percentage of male and female worshipers remains the same across churches of varying sizes. Larger Protestant churches, with 501 ot 1,000 worshipers attract the highest percentage of men (43%).
The percentages of men and women worshipers do not vary much by region of the country either. In fact, the highest percentages of male worshipers are in the South (43% male attendees compared to 39% nationally).
In our national sample of congregations, the percentages of men in any single congregation ranged from 0% to 67%. Only 2% had more men than women. If a church or parish achieves a 50/50 gender ration, they are in the top 98% of all congregations in their ability to attract men to their services.
7. But this gender imbalance is something new, right? Isn't there an ever-widening gap between the number fo male and female churchgoers?
For 700 years or possibly longer, observers have noted the lack of men in church. Is it possible to attract more men to achieve a greater balance between male and female worshipers? Yes! Consider the options presented in David Murrow's book, Why Men Hate Going to Church.