Journal Article

Testing the Attendance Gap in a Conservative Church

Penny Long Marler and C. Kirk Hadaway

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 175-186
Published in print January 1999 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1999 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3711747
Testing the Attendance Gap in a Conservative Church

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This paper examines the overreporting of attendance at a large evangelical church using a poll of church members conducted during the seven days following a specific Sunday morning worship service. It provides a direct (temporal and individual) test of the connection between self reported church attendance and actual, observed attendance. Overreporting was found for worship attendance even when the attendance rate was adjusted by removing non-worship events. More importantly, by comparing poll responses to attendance records kept by the church, it was possible to determine both the rate of Sunday school attendance overreporting and which adult members misreported their attendance. Most of those who said they attended Sunday school, but who in fact did not, were active church members who claim to attend church “every week.”.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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