Summary: What would cause someone to visit a church and leave saying "Nothing to see here." thus planning never to return?
Sunday, Sept 16th is National Back to Church Sunday. On this Sunday I would encourage you to make an effort to invite someone to attend with you.
Last week we discovered why people do not go to church. We found some rather startling statistics. I would like to remind you of these facts once again.
We discovered that the attendance at a typical congregation decreased from 130 to 75 in the last 12 years. (Hartford Institute for Religion Research) This number represented more than 6 million people that have walked away from the church. In fact “Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year---causing 3500 to 4000 churches to close their doors each year” (Goodmanson) Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion.
The reasons given in a survey of 1000 when asked “Why don’t you attend church?” included; work or other commitments, bad experience with church people, attendance is not necessary, beliefs of the church, and being bored and filling unfulfilled.
But in spite of these reasons 82% said they would go if invited. When church attendees were asked the question “How many of you have invited someone to your church in the last year” only 2% said they had. There are 178 million people not attending church in this nation. There are 129 million who are. But only 2.5 million have tried to reach those 178 million while 126.5 million do nothing.
This Sunday I want to help you discover why the “unchurched” people remain or leave. I will hopefully dispel some misconceptions, refocus our efforts, and show perhaps some shortcomings we have.
I will begin by throwing some numbers at you and concentrate on the top 5 reasons people stay or go.
There has always been some concern about our location but in the survey only 7% chose a church based on that format.
We concentrate a lot on our worship style and music but 11% were attracted by it.
12% were attracted by the ministries that were offered, such as men’s ministry, women’s ministry, home groups, etc.
25% were looking for a good Children’s/Youth ministry. We struggle in this area, not due to lack of material, but due to lack of workers. I have discovered that God will not give you a field larger than what you can handle. In other words, He will not give you a crop greater than you can harvest.
25% begin attending due to a Sunday school class. We’ve discussed having some ministries available. Perhaps Sunday morning prior to service would be a good time for doing one.
25% attended due to a neighbor or a friend. Offer them a ride to church. They may say “Yes”.
Also 38% came due to a family member attending. Do you have a relative not attending somewhere? Invite them here.
So now we begin to focus on the top 5 reasons the “unchurched” choose a church and why they do not stay.
1) 39% sensed God’s presence. People are looking for a real experience. They have heard all the talk and rhetoric about God. They desire to know He is real. They want to live out Psalm 68:4 “Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the Lord— rejoice in his presence!”
When True Identity sings they want to experience the joy that you should be feeling; the joy of being in God’s presence. When is the last time you heard a word spoken in a sermon that caused such joy in you that you had to shout “Amen” or stand to your feet or even clap. When is the last time you wept over God’s mercy or your need to repent? They want to know that God is real in your life because then maybe He can be real in theirs.
But when the service is over and they see the faces of people who does not seem to have been moved by God’s presence then they are moved to leave with the opinion of “nothing to see here.”
2) 41% had someone at church witness to them. If they were invited by a family member or a friend chances are they had already heard about the exciting things happening at their church. Which leads to this question? Are you excited about your church? Do you feel comfortable inviting someone or are you afraid they will leave disappointed and you will be embarrassed?
If that’s true, then I am truly concerned. I have been given charge to care for and feed you spiritually. If you have these concerns, than I am failing. I must be informed of my shortcomings.
But moving on from that, when we have a visitor we need to take a few seconds to tell of the exciting things God is doing among us. The Apostle Paul was given this charge; “For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15) I believe we have been given this charge also.