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The Barna Group recently released the findings of a 20-year study that showed that more and more women are opting to skip church on Sunday mornings.

The survey, which studied the churchgoing tends of women from 1991 to 2011, found that church attendance among women dropped 11 percent over the last two decades. Today only 44% of women attend church regularly. The study also found that fewer women are reading the Bible (down from 50% to 40%) and volunteering at church.

So, why study the churchgoing habits of women and not both sexes? Traditionally women have made up the majority of parishioners. Furthermore, women tend to set the religious values for their household. So if they attend church, their husbands and children are more likely to attend as well.

Although the statics may be sobering to some, some church officials are not shocked.

“While sobering, the findings of this survey are not surprising, and I would agree with Barna’s appraisal,” Rev. Paul Rock, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City said.

“Since women still tend to define many family traditions, a drop-off in women means a drop-off in men and children as well. So this is a significant change in American culture that most churches have not adapted to well. I don’t think God is worried, but I do think God is waiting for churches to wake up and respond to the reality of women’s lives today,” he said.

Some of the factors contributing to the decline of women attending church are career demands, the lack of equality seen in many churches, and sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

Other findings from the survey include:

— Although the majority of women, 63 percent, still say their faith is important, that number has dropped by 6%.

— Only 42 percent of women (down 7%) believe the Bible is completely accurate.

— The percentage of women who believe God is “all-knowing, all-powerful and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules the world today” dropped from 80 percent in 1991 to 70 percent in 2011.

This study serves as a wake-up call to churches who have relied on women throughout the years. If they do not want to continue to see fewer and fewer women attending church, they need to make a greater effort to adapt to their needs.

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