The Top Five Big Cities for Church Attendance in America

New research has identified the most 'churched' and 'unchurched' areas of the country

The most “religious” city in America is Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to a new analysis of where active (and non-active) churchgoers live and worship.

The next most church-attending big-city residents are in Salt Lake City, Utah; Augusta-Aiken, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Birmingham-Anniston-Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to data from the Barna Group, the evangelical Christian polling firm.

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Approximately 38 percent of Americans are active churchgoers, Barna found. And a whopping 73 percent of Americans identify as Christian, Barna concluded in 2016.

“A trusted measure of religiosity over the decades has been church attendance and, for the most part, Americans are attending church less,” according to Barna’s new research.

Barna polled a random sampling of over 76,000 adults nationwide for seven consecutive days that ended in April.

The “churched” Americans attended a religious service within the past seven days. (Going to a funeral or wedding did not count.)

“Even though a majority of Americans identify as Christian and say religious faith is very important in their life, these huge proportions belie the much smaller number of Americans who regularly practice their faith,” Barna noted in a 2016 report on the state of the church.

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“When a variable like church attendance is added to the mix, a majority becomes the minority,” the research found.

“Unchurched” Americans have not attended a church service in the past six months, but may have attended special events like a wedding.

The “dechurched” group — as classified by Barna — refers to those who were once active churchgoers. Individuals in this group, however, have not attended a church service in the past six months (excluding special events and occasions like a wedding).

About 43 percent of Americans are “unchurched” and 34 percent are “dechurched,” according to Barna.

“The Christian church has been a cornerstone of American life for centuries, but much has changed in the last 30 years,” Barna noted. “Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls.”

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The five least church-attending big cities areas in America (in the “unchurched” category) are: San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California; Reno, Nevada; Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts; Boston-Manchester, Massachusetts; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

The top five on the “dechurched” cities list is similar. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California; Boston-Manchester, Massachusetts; Seattle-Tacoma, Washington; Portland-Auburn, Maine; and Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts, top this list.

“Only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview,” the Barna Group wrote in a Facebook post in May. “So, if Christians are open to nonbiblical perspectives, what are they believing?”

In separate data, 36 percent of American adults attend religious services at least once per week, 33 percent attend once or twice or month or a few times a year, and 30 percent attend services seldom or never, according to a religious landscape study by Pew Research Center.