Here is a question I almost never ask non church goers; why don’t you go to church? As a pastor, I want people to attend worship services, and if they are not attending anywhere, I would love for them to attend the church where I am pastor. However, I realize this is a personal question. I do not wish to pry into peoples’ private lives. Neither do I wish to back them into a corner, pressure them, or put them on the spot. If you have ever met me, you probably know I am an easy going person. You talk, I’ll listen. You want to tell me why you do or do not attend church; I am all ears.
Worship is an expression of our faith in God. It follows if we profess faith in Christ and we desire to worship the Lord, we will attend church somewhere. However, church attendance in America has been in decline for decades. Believers and non-believers alike are avoiding church attendance in record numbers. There are all sorts of surveys and studies going on as to why this is, but let me share with you what people have told me over the years. These are in no particular order.
I got my feelings hurt. This may be the most common reason I hear. Someone spoke an unkind word, expectations were not met, the person felt underappreciated or neglected, or the people were just not very friendly. Remember that congregations are composed of flawed and woefully imperfect people.
There are too many hypocrites in church. Believe me, I understand. But for every hypocritical, mean, hateful person I have met in a church, I found countless others who were sincere, kind, genuine, and concerned people. My personal experience has been that the nice folks way outnumber the ornery ones. Sadly, the ornery ones often leave a lasting, negative impression.
The church only wants my money. Most churches leave financial contributions to the individual and his or her conscience. Unfortunately, many people have observed televangelists or a pastor plead for contributions only to later find the preacher built a million dollar house (See my post on this issue at The Preacher's Million Dollar House). Most likely, many congregations in your community are handling funds with greater accountability than this.
I don’t believe in God, or I quit believing in God. To the non-believer, I invite you to have another look. Great comfort and peace are found in a relationship with God. And to the one who says he used to believe, God would welcome you back.
Church is boring. Countless congregations are striving to make worship time an uplifting and inspiring experience. I am certain there is a church in your community that is an exciting place to be.
I work on Sundays. I understand and I know the Lord certainly understands. You have a job, your company requires you to work on Sundays. However, most churches offer worship times other than Sunday morning.
Sunday is my golf day. I’m chuckling as I type this; Saturday works well for golf too – as well as all sorts of other great stuff.
Did any of the above reasons for avoiding church resonate with you? I welcome your thoughts. Or, share a prayer request or just get something off your chest. I am glad to pray for you today.
God bless you.