5 Reasons Why Fewer Christians Are Attending Church In America
5 Reasons Fewer People Are Attending Church
I’ve seen the stats on declining church attendance in America. As a pastor, I’ve observed from the front row how Christians have become less inclined to gather together on a regular basis.
Why is that? There is a clear biblical command to gather and we are created with a longing for community, so what is holding us back? I’d like to share 5 reasons for this decline in attending church. You can let me know if you agree, disagree, or have something to add.
First, God’s People Have Been Scattered By False Shepherds
There are lots of solid, compassionate pastors out there shepherding their flocks well. But in this day of rising narcissism, the pulpit has far too often been used as a promotion point for one person’s agenda to the exclusion of pastoral care. This has left many believers with scars from traumatic situations and a reluctance to return to fellowship.
Jesus warned about hireling pastors that do not care about the sheep in John 10:13. Paul the Apostle is recorded in Acts 20:29 saying this, “after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.”
Has this happened to you? If so, I want you to know that I’m praying for you that God will gather you into a congregation where there is biblical pastoral care and an evident love from Christ among the people. God gave a warning to the false shepherds in Jeremiah 23. He warned that He would judge the actions of selfish leaders that do not shepherd God’s people; and then He gave a promise that He would put His people under true shepherds that will care for His people. I pray based on the truth of that promise.
Second, God’s People Have Been Disillusioned By Secular Church Growth Strategies
Christians are just flat out tired! They have been told to constantly do more and give more to make church attractive to more people. Decades of church growth strategies and gimmicks have left believers burnt out and wary of church involvement. If they start attending a church they could quickly get roped into leading the whole children’s ministry!
What happened to the days when “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved?” Business sales ideas have no place setting the agenda and goals of a local church. The church is to be a family gathering of God’s people, not just another marketplace where we try to use each other to get ahead. It’s time for us to abandon number based materialistic church growth strategies and start serving one another with the strength that God supplies.
Third, God’s People Have Not Made Meeting Together A Priority
We all find the time to do the things most important to us. Our work attendance is important because our livelihood depends on it. Our kid’s school and sports practice attendance is important because their development depends on it. So why do believers in Christ only meet together when it’s convenient?
Somehow we believe online sermons, podcasts with spiritual content, and individual Bible reading can get us by. The problem is that none of those individual pursuits can teach us how to love our Christian brothers and sister according to Christ’s commands. That kind of experience can only be gained within the family of God.
It is Christ that established the church. Do we have the option of neglecting the local gathering without disobeying Him and discouraging His people?
Fourth, God’s People Lack The Grace For Proper Conflict Resolution
Any Christian who has been part of church for any length of time has dealt with conflict. Controversy can be very painful, and when leaders don’t navigate it well the pain is greater and longer lasting.
Those who have been mistreated and misunderstood in times of conflict may be tempted to give up on church. But let’s remember, brothers and sisters, we have a faithful high priest who was betrayed by His own spiritual leaders. He will give us the grace to keep trusting, to keep loving, and to keep meeting around His Word and the encouragement of His people.
Fifth, God’s People Have Been Discouraged With The Lack Of God’s Presence
Anyone who is a faithful believer in Christ knows that the presence of God is real and needed in every generation. A true believer knows that the Lord loves to act on behalf of His people and reveal who He is. He loves to pour out His love on a people that are calling out to Him and Him alone with a single purpose for the glory of His name! This is why it breaks our hearts to see evil increasing in this world without an authoritative, God-ordained response from the church.
Elisha said this in 2Kings 2:14, “where is the God of Elijah?” Have you had similar thoughts struggling with the lack of God’s Word and promises changing people’s lives in America? If we see a lack of God’s power and presence in the church, that’s a good time for God’s people to gather for the purpose of calling out to Him and looking for answers to these unanswered prayers. In a day when only a miraculous response from the Lord will meet the needs in front of us, are God’s people willing to turn from disobedience and gather again to pray and seek Him?
Declining church attendance is a symptom of a deeper problem. The true problem has more to do with the state of our relationship with God and each other. Do we actually believe that Jesus is the Prince Of Peace and can reconcile any situation? Do we believe that He has the power to redeem us from sin? The way we respond to His command to gather together is going to show how much we believe. I will see you at church!
P.S. If your area doesn't have a solid church where the Word of God is preached and the love of Christ is expressed I want you to consider starting a gathering even if you don't feel equipped. The Lord has a way of equipping what He wants done when we walk in obedience to Him. Reach out and let me know how I can be a help to you in this biblical desire to be a part of an encouraging gathering together of God's people
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