Summary: A closer look at why people do not attend church and a challenge for the church to reach them.
Sunday, Sept 16th is National Back to Church Sunday. On this Sunday we would like everyone to put out an effort to invite or bring someone to church with you. Bribe them with lunch afterwards if necessary.
This Sunday I want to inform you of the reasons people do not go to church and how to respond to those reasons. Next Sunday I want you to discover why unchurched people chose a church and stay. Then on the 16th I will present some facts on why people attend church.
“In the first decade of the 21st century, the median worship attendance at a typical congregation decreased, from 130 to 108. “It means we have a lot more smaller congregations,” said David Roozen, author of the report, “A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000-2010,” and director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
The percentage of congregations with average weekend worship attendance of 100 or fewer inched up from 42 percent to 49 percent over the decade. More than a quarter of congregations had 50 or fewer people attending in 2010. While the number of megachurches almost doubled over the decade, congregations with 2,000 or more weekly attendees make up just 0.5 percent of all congregations.
“There are more megachurches, but, in fact, they’re getting an increasing piece of an overall shrinking pie,” Roozen told the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference in Durham, N.C., where he released the findings.
In many cases, congregations are seeing not only fewer people in their pews but older ones. At least one-third of members in more than half of mainline Protestant congregations are 65 or older.” (.www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/church... )
What can we conclude from these facts? First, fewer people are going to church. A drop of twenty people from a congregation sounds small until you consider there are about 300,000 churches in America. So we as the Body of Christ have allowed 6 million people to walk away from the faith this decade. And these 6 million bodies represent 6 million souls in need of rescue. “Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to (the world’s influence and the results are) 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year.” (Goodmanson)
Megachurches seem to be exploding but they only account for ½ percent of congregations while churches of 50 or fewer account for 25%. Small churches have grown but only by 7%. And
half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth.
Secondly, church congregations are getting older. We are losing this generation known as “Generation Z” They are the generation of high tech and social media. No longer is it necessary to inter-act with people face-to-face. Now it’s with phones and computers. They can’t go to a restaurant or a social event without sharing where they are at and who they are with. There is no need to interact with the church body when you have the convince of listening to a speaker at your leisure. And often as not, other things take them away from the gospel.
So how does the Church recover these 6 million souls? We discover why they are not interested and begin to help dispel the tactics of our enemy.
One reason people do not attend church is due to their schedules. In a survey given to 1000 people with several options to answer the question “Why don’t you attend church?” 15% answered “Not enough time because of work.” and 21% had “other commitments”
Reality is we have made Sunday a very productive day for retailers. When I began my career selling bread, Sunday was the slowest selling day of the week. Now it equals Saturday for sales.
We have created a necessity for people to work during “church hours” And the only way to reach them is through small groups held during the week. That will be a goal for next year, to establish these home groups to minister to each other.
“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46) This is the outline for the church, offering a Sunday service, small groups, and fellowship.
Another answer to the question “Why don’t you attend Church” was “I had a bad experience among church people.” (16%) When someone visits for the first time they notice the looks, the whispers, the cliques. Even in preaching, if a pastor makes a joke that the members understand, it sends a message to the visitor that you are an outsider. I discourage revealing all the family connections within our body so as not to send the message that our church is “a family affair”
Saul, who became Paul, had a tough encounter with the early church himself after his conversion. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. (Acts 9:26-27)