The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 123
Why do I have an apathetic congregation at my church? Here are 5 reasons
A recent Lifeway survey of pastors recorded many of them listing apathy as the primary concern they have for their church. It’s certainly not a problem unique to the church. Many people feel apathetic about their jobs, home life, and even life in general. We are the product of our culture, and our culture frequently tells us that there is much to worry about and little we can do to have hope for the future.
A secular worldview is not one of hope, but a biblical worldview is. That point is one that should drive the Church to ever-increasing influence into the local culture. The Christian meme of being “Hope Dealers” should really be a thing. It should start with one another in our churches though.
There are many reasons for a church to have an apathetic congregation, but we’re suggesting five below that will have a far-reaching impact for the better if you can overcome them in your congregation.
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Lack of Fellowship Engagement
Western culture in general is increasingly isolated. The church isn’t much better. The best sermon application points fall short unless the people can be together to discuss them deeper and live them out together. As soon as people get into their cars at the end of the Sunday service the stresses of the upcoming week are already demanding their attention. There is a reason that the bible shows us how important it is to fellowship with believers. We are our own first line of defense. The church needs to prioritize the development of these relationships not only to protect the flock from the culture, but to equip the flock to affect the culture.
Barriers to Serving
The church should be a person’s primary place of service engagement, but for many people the hurdles are too high. People are left asking, What are the needs that I may be able to fill? Who do I need to talk to? Will I be trained? Will it fit my availability? How complicated is the sign up process?
Serving has a direct benefit for those being served, obviously, but oftentimes, the ones serving find benefits for themselves they never thought possible. Further, we know with certainty that those people who invest in the church with their time, also invest with their money, and care about furthering the work that they become passionate about.
You may think that consistency and predictability keeps people from straying, but the reverse is true. Life has enough boredom to go around. The Church should be challenging the norms and pushing people beyond what’s comfortable. Change is not inherently bad. Positive change is healthy.
Monotony doesn’t have to describe your Sunday worship service. Whether you’re liturgical or not, the overall church culture may appear monotonous in that it just feels dead. Whether your church is traditional, contemporary or liturgical, you can still develop a culture of passion and change that drives the ministry forward and engages the people in personal growth and greater depth.
Lack of Vision
Vision is the antidote of monotony. It drives everyone forward to a positive future. It’s a call to action and a picture of hope. It’s the results of passionate disciple-making through cooperation and unity. Vision is recognizing God’s sovereignty in where you are and the people that you have and discerning the impact He has you there to make.
Boring breeds boring. If church leaders lack charisma they will set the tone of the church. Look in the mirror. If you’re apathetic, you’re probably driving it in your congregation. See #4 above and work on changing up your routine. Recapture the joy, hope, and anticipation you had when you accepted the call to your church and project those feelings outward.
You do not have to be “on” all the time. That would be disingenuous and people will see through it. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. The leaders you surround yourself with matter as well. They will project out the tone that you set. They can be passive repeaters, or they can be amplifiers. Get amplifiers.
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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.