From what I’ve been reading and hearing lately, there are many “good, solid, and faithful” Christian people who have decided not to attend church services any longer…or just need a break from that routine. Some suggest this means they are not Christians or they are not being faithful to God. That may or may not be true. Certainly, there are those whom (for whatever reason) have walked away from God and have, therefore, left the Church.
But many faithful believers are shifting their church attendance patterns, and here are a 15 reasons why committed Christians do not attend church services as often.
15 Reasons Why Committed Christians Do Not Attend Church
1. They believe in Jesus, but they feel the church is irrelevant to their day-to-day life.
These individuals may have been members for years at their church. They may have grown up in the church and have reached a different phase of life. But now these people cannot see how active participation in the church makes their life “better.” Barna Research suggests that the majority of adults do not believe that active participation in church is necessary for their spiritual life. For this reason, The Malphurs Group works with churches in our Strategic Envisioning Process to clearly define a Discipleship Pathway, which helps your congregation see how engagement in the church helps them gain momentum in their spiritual growth.
2. They are tired of the routine each Sunday.
One of our consultants worked with a church that said: “Old and tired; that describes our church members.” Unfortunately, this describes many church services, too! If your weekend services have stopped being laser-focused on launching people into a week of living in awe and obedience of God, it might be time to take a fresh look at what’s happening on Sundays. For many, Sunday may be their only day off. If your church has been doing the “same old routine” and there is nothing fresh, new, or inviting–do not be surprised if people stop coming.
3. They have learned much about God, but the church has not engaged them in their calling.
These are people of faith, who are learning and educating themselves. They also have needs that the church leadership is not listening to or paying attention to. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and are searching for an opportunity to live out their calling. At the Malphurs Group, we use the term “Mobilization” to describe the process of getting people from sitting to serving. If Sundays are an “event” at your church, but never engage people to discover or live out their calling, people will stop coming.
4. The church has changed and does not hold the same initial appeal as it once did.
What originally attracted them to the church either no longer connects with them or has changed with new leadership or a different make-up of the congregation. Evaluate who is sitting in the congregation and make sure leadership reaches out to these individuals. For long-time members and attenders, make sure they don’t get lost in the familiarity of the crowd by neglecting their needs.
5. They have problems with how churches are run.
Churches, like any other organization or business, have a set of processes and order for how things are run. Individuals from the congregation will inevitably disagree with facets of this system; however, many times the church is at fault for running improperly. From the perspective of a church consulting firm, this is an enormous issue. Many times conflict, poor leadership from the pulpit, and personal agendas trumping the church’s vision/mission are key reasons for faulty administration. If you find yourself stuck in this situation, seek outside evaluation or observation, in order to create healthy interactions with your ministry team, grow your church leadership pipeline, and begin strategically envisioning the future of your church.
6. They have problems with how people are handled (or not handled).
If there is no clear process in place to address church discipline and/or conflict resolution, people get frustrated with how situations are resolved. Scripture speaks on these issues, but many times the leadership is not in agreement or unclear as to what should be done regarding church conflict. Make sure you have an understanding of how your church handles church discipline and church conflict resolution, so you are consistent with your interactions and don’t drive people away with inconsistency and poor leadership.
7. Heavy-handed pastors or teachers shame people into “behaving in a godly way”.
Shame on them! Scriptures should be used to instruct people on how to live according to God’s commands — not to shame or judge. God is the ultimate judge and those in ministry are His messengers to share how godly living looks.
8. They dislike the conflicts within the church.
Not many people enjoy conflict. But no one likes it when conflict keeps brewing and never comes to a resolution. Many pastors and other church leaders fail at conflict resolution in the church. When your leadership is in conflict, it’s time to pray, seek help from an outside church consulting firm to help navigate direction, clarify issues and pursue godly problem solving. When you do this, individuals will hopefully be encouraged by your humility, forgiveness of others, and resolution rather than detracted by your abundance of church conflict or unwillingness to admit guilt.
9. There’s a lack of insight into personal and practical issues within families.
This is such an important issue. People want to know that someone–especially the one who preaches the message each week–can share with practical life issues, such as raising a family, marriage, and the difficulties that arise whether it’s a wayward child, illness, financial needs, job stress, family conflict, or just plain life in general. If you haven’t experienced a certain phase of life yet, make sure you have another trusted individual in leadership equipped to address such issues. Otherwise their lack of connection with you and the staff will become one of the reasons why committed Christians do not attend church in your context.
10. Children’s needs are not met.
Youth and children are the future of the church (and the present), and many families base their attendance on whether a church has a good children’s ministry or not. How are you doing with serving your children? Evaluate your children’s ministry not only looking at your content, but also your environments, volunteers, and safety.
11. They don’t want to give to something they no longer believe in.
It’s very hard to give to something that no longer matters to you and lacks vision clarity for their future. Surveys often show what people are willing to give to. Find out what that is. Also, make sure you are presenting your vision frequently, so that your congregation understands where you are going as a church. Don’t have a clear vision? Consider hiring a church vision consultant to help you gain some vision clarity.
12. There are too many rules.
Being a godly person has nothing to do with a list of rules, but a relationship with God. Yet obsession over rules is one of the reasons why committed Christians do not attend church. If your visitors feel like you can only be a part of the church if you follow a rigid set of rules, you are walking a line of legalism (or have already crossed it).
13. There are too many people.
Some people just like smaller churches or groups. If you are a large church or mega-church how are you ensuring people get a “close knit” feel? How do your small group ministries fulfill that need? I like the saying one church has: “The bigger we get, the smaller we get.” — meaning the larger your congregation the more robust your small group network needs to be.
14. No “good” churches nearby.
Depending on where they live, this could be a reality; however, churches vary in their delivery, style and leadership. No one will find a “perfect church” that has everything that they prefer. You can’t control your visitor’s perceived expectations; however, you can remain strong in your teaching, committed to the Gospel, and ministering in a style that fits your community, experience and strengths of your leadership.
15. New family rhythms.
The world has changed. In the last decade, youth sports have risen to new popularity. In days past, leagues never scheduled games on Sundays. Today, Sundays are a popular choice for tournaments, games, and competitions. As a result, families find themselves having to choose between church attendance and sports. Even for “faithful” Christian families, parents have a difficult time making this choice. For the spiritually immature or ambivalent, the choice is simple: sports. Youth sports are not the only new claim on Sunday mornings. It is safe to say, though, that family rhythms are shifting. If this is true, how is your church intentionally addressing this issue? How can you engage a family in spiritual growth that is committed to youth sports? Have you written them off as a “lost cause”?
Indeed, the world has changed. But is your church adapting to the ever-changing issues? How healthy is your church?
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As you evaluate these 15 reasons why committed Christians do not attend church, consider which reasons you contribute to. Take a good look at your church and see whether you are an encouragement for church attendance or a hindrance, then allow the Spirit to guide you and your church leaders to make adjustments where necessary. If you are in an established church and looking to make church planting part of your church vision and church-wide strategic plan for the future, contact us to schedule a call with a church vision consultant.