COVID is driving people to God – both Christians and non-Christians alike – according to new research released today by Mainstreet Insights, a partner of McCrindle Research.
The research shows one in three Australians spent time thinking about God during the pandemic, while many Christians are experiencing a resurgence in their faith.
The survey polled 1000 people across the country earlier this year.
A quarter of all respondents started reading the Bible.
Of those respondents who don’t attend church, one in three said they are also praying more. About one quarter of all respondents started reading the Bible.
Over 60 per cent of Christian respondents said they are praying more and almost half have spent more time reading the Bible this year.
One in four regular churchgoers have actually increased their church attendance since the pandemic started, despite many churches having to move online because of COVID restrictions.
According to co-founder of Mainstreet Mark McCrindle, digital technology (such as livestreaming and social media) has not only increased online church attendance, but also boosted in-person attendance as COVID restrictions have eased.
“These devices have been an integral part of keeping Christian communities united during this difficult year,” McCrindle said. “Now that they’re mainstream, they’ll be here to stay.”
“It’s a little bit like the old adage that more people went to church in times of war and crisis than at any other time.” – Lindsay McMillian
Dr Lindsay McMillian, also co-founder of Mainstreet, is not surprised by the movement towards God because of the pandemic.
“It makes sense because COVID is basically a crisis,” McMillian tells Eternity. “It’s a little bit like the old adage that more people went to church in times of war and crisis than at any other time.
“I think that people becoming much more reflective has been an outcome of COVID, because all of a sudden the things that people thought were important became less important. And those things that became more important rose to the surface. For example, mortality, because all of a sudden people were struck by the fact that we don’t quite know what the future looks like, and that forces people into a reflective mode.
“And so where do people do that searching? They search into those things of faith.”
“We’re hopeful that there will be a continuation of people becoming much more reflective about faith.” – Lindsay McMillian
The findings of this survey correlate to a similar one in the US by Pew Research, McMillian notes. That survey found more Americans were praying and reading the Bible due to COVID.
When asked if he expects these trends toward God to continue, MacMillian says: “Now we’re heading into a new normal. That’s a cliche, but the fact is that we need to re-set the way we think about life, work and our relationships.
“In another study that we’ve done, we’ve seen an increased focus of people wanting to reconnect within relationships and community. So, purely from a faith-based point of view, we’re hopeful that people’s faith will be increased and relationships will be enhanced, and that there will be a continuation of people becoming much more reflective about faith.
“Because, if you take it purely from a secular point of view, the future is not clear and the world stage changes almost overnight, as we know.
“I think that forces people into becoming reflective about the here and now, where do I stand in regard to my faith and what does that mean.”