Church Attendance Is Changing

All you have to do is drive by most churches on a Sunday morning and you will see that church attendance is declining.

We have heard all of the same clichés … I love God; it’s the people I can’t stand … I can worship God anywhere … I was so busy on Saturday; I needed a day to catch up … There are too many hypocrites in that place … My grandparents went to church so I’m okay … I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but I don’t attend any church … The last time I went nobody talked to me … My name is on the (membership) roll but I haven’t been in years … It’s raining … I didn’t like how felt after the last time I went … I could go on and on … I didn’t even mention sports …

 

It’s pretty obvious, people are casual about attending church. Studies and surveys unfortunately back this trend. If you look at church attendance over the years, you’ll find that the younger generations attend church less than the older generations. Also, you’ll find that the younger generations are more likely to identify as “none” as opposed to being connected to any certain denomination. Even with the “regular” attenders, you clearly see declining patterns of regular attendance. Years ago, regular attendance meant attending 3 out of 4 Sundays. This trend has been quickly moving in the wrong direction. The days when people only missed because of a vacation and a sick day are long gone. All this adds up to an undeniable reality. There are fewer people attending church on a regular basis. People are far too casual about attending church.
 

It could be that the silly clichés above are popular because they appease to our love of self as we attend church less than the previous generations. It could be that the over used clichés are a needed wake up call for the unbiblical ideas about church that were common in the previous generations. Whatever the reason, I am someone who believes attending church should be a priority.

Today there are many church membership rolls filled with the names of people who joined the church after attending a pizza party and they never came back, or they moved to another state or another country, or they died in 1985. There are too many church membership rolls that resemble more of a guest list at a museum than something as important as a church membership roll. Sadly, for many people church is a place attended when it fits their schedule, not a place and a people that deserves priority. For many, church is about entertainment. It has become a place that makes us feel good. It has become a social club, a daycare, or a time for “TED Talks.” For many, church is like renting a house. They enjoy the benefits of having a home but when there are issues with the home they wait on someone else to handle the issues, or they just move to another home. This is not the picture of faithful attendance we see in the Bible.

Believe it or not, Christians are actually commanded to go to church. In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Followers of Christ are not merely given good advice to go to church, or told to go to church when they can, but are instructed to not neglect meeting together. Over the years we have gone from being legalistic and telling people, “go to church or go to hell” to thinking “it doesn’t matter if you go to church.”

I understand God’s people are not perfect. There are times when we can be rude and hypocritical. I understand being a follower of Christ is more than just attending church services. I also understand that church attendance doesn’t automatically save anyone. But, I know church attendance is neither casual nor selfish, but is instead an intentional, giving of yourself to a body of believers. So if you are a professing follower of Christ, let us love and consider church attendance with the same love and consideration that Christ showed the church when He willingly gave Himself up for her.

Pastor Justin Villines