By Aaron Earls
Americans are spending more and more time driving to work during the week, but most churchgoers have a quick trip on Sunday.
Sixty-eight percent of churchgoers say it takes them 15 minutes or less to get from their home to their place of worship, according to new research from the Baylor Religion Survey.
Comparatively, the Census’ 2015 American Community Survey found the average work commute lasted 26.4 minutes—more than a four-minute increase since 1980. The drive times that grew the fastest between 2014 and 2015? Those that were over 90 minutes.
It seems churchgoers want a much quicker trip on the weekend. Two in 10 (21 percent) say their drive is five minutes or less. Almost half (47 percent) say it takes them six to 15 minutes. Twenty-three percent commute 16 to 30 minutes. And only 9 percent say it takes them longer than 30 minutes to drive to church.
Catholics have the shortest drive times among Christians. More than three-fourths (77 percent) say they spend 15 minutes or less on the road to church.
Two-thirds of mainline Protestants (67 percent) and 59 percent of evangelicals say the same.
Black Protestants drive the farthest for church. Fifty-nine percent drive more than 15 minutes, with 19 percent having a church commute of more than 30 minutes.
Where people live also affects how long they drive to church. Those in small towns have the shortest commute. More than a quarter (27 percent) of small-town churchgoers live within five minutes of the church.
There are no significant differences in drives for those in rural areas, the suburbs, or large cities.
Commute times are important because Baylor found half of Americans who live within 15 minutes of their place of worship report attending services weekly or more.
“As the distance increases, the likelihood of weekly attendance decreases,” the report says. Fifty-three percent of those who live within five minutes attend weekly. Only 32 percent of those who live more than 30 minutes away do the same.
People’s proximity to their church is also related to how satisfied they are with their community. A quarter of those with a five-minute drive or less (24 percent) say they are completely satisfied with their neighborhood, while only 11 percent of those who drive more than 30 minutes for church say the same.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.