A new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) shows widespread confusion and ignorance regarding official membership in churches and other local places of worship.
The research was conducted among 441 American adults who attend a local church or place of worship once a month or more. The study asked people whether their place of worship offers “any kind of official membership in the organization, or not.” Among all worship-goers, 48% say such official membership is offered, 33% believe it is not, and 19% are not sure.
While some denominations and individual congregations have no official form of membership, most of the largest religious bodies do. All of the ten largest denominations in the U.S. (as measured by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies) measure some form of official membership: Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Lutheran Church ”“ Missouri Synod, Episcopal Church, and National Baptist Convention USA.
Even so, among people who attend one of these top ten denominations, just 44% say their church offers official membership, while 39% believe it does not, and 17% are unsure.