“Why don’t you go to church?” That is asked by so many for so many reasons. The evangelist may ask because they want to convert you. The friend may ask because they want validation? The family member may ask because they know “how you were raised.” I have found myself in several recent conversations with Pastors about this very issue. They ask in response to dwindling attendance, membership, and money. One Pastor asked me, “What are we doing wrong or not doing at all?” My response assured him that it was overwhelmingly not due to a lack of relationship with God. Rather a lack of relationship and relevancy of the institution of the church. It is interesting, we see this same phenomenon in other industries and institutions like higher education; for example. People no longer see a need to adjust their schedule, drive to a campus, and sit in front of a Professor, yet still love learning and see a need to continue with more education. Yet, we do not question why people don’t go to college. But, when it comes to the church, we perpeuate the notion that if you are not faithfully and religiously in the pew each Sunday morning, that is a reflection of their relationship with Christ.
Now, there is a bit of research to help alleviate all the speculation. A new survey explores all the reasons why people may stay home, rather than attend church. According to the survey of 4,729 adults, published August 1st by the Pew Research Center, more than a third (37%) said they do not attend church regularly because they practice their faith “in other ways.”
Other reasons include:
- 28 percent – “I am not a believer.”
- 23 percent – “I haven’t found a church or other house of worship I like.”
- 18 percent – “I don’t like the sermons.”
- 14 percent – “I don’t feel welcome.”
- 12 percent – “I don’t have the time.”
- 9 percent – “I’m in poor health or find it difficult to get around.”
- 7 percent – “There isn’t a church or other house of worship for my religion in my area.”
The 14% response, “I don’t feel welcome,” stands out to me. What resonates with you? What do you feel are the reasons people do not attend church regularly? If this is you, why do you not attend regularly? Whether by survey or an open discussion like this, it is necessary to understand so the spiritual community can once again lead our communities in service, in protest, and in change.