Why Attending Church No Longer Makes Sense

attend church

The trend is practically universal: fewer people are attending church every year.

You might have even asked the question yourself. Why bother?

There are many reasons why that’s happening (I outline 10 here), but I think it’s increasingly evident that it no longer makes sense to attend church.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of the church. But I get why more and more people have simply stopped attending. Let me explain.

In the fall of 2015, I transitioned out of the lead pastor role at our church and into a Founding and Teaching Pastor role (Here’s a piece on why and how I did it). I still carry about 30 Sundays a year of teaching and work on some senior level projects, but that leaves me much freer than I’ve ever been on a Sunday morning. Sure, sometimes I host the service or have other roles, but more often than I’ve ever experienced before, I’m free on a Sunday. Which means I’m often an attender. So I feel what the culture is feeling more than ever before.

And on those Sundays when I have no official role, I’m plagued with the question “Why go to church?”

After all, our church streams our services live online. I could literally watch live on any device I own anywhere. Plus we share the services on demand, so I could watch or listen any time during the week via our website or catch the message for free via podcast.

If your church doesn’t have an online experience, no worries, about a million others do. You can access almost any church you want, anywhere, anytime. Free.

Which brings us back to the question: Why attend church?

Increasingly, I’m convinced there’s no point to merely attending. You drive all the way in to connect with three or four songs, hear the message and then head home. All of that you could almost do by yourself in a much more convenient way. Slip on Spotify and grab the message via podcast or on demand and boom, you’re covered.

Drowning in Options

I wonder if in large measure that’s why the era of attending church is dying. Think about it.

Generations ago, the church was a social and cultural hub as well as a missional hub. In addition to faith reasons, people loved going to church because it was one of a handful of options available in a community as well as the main way (other than personal devotions) you connect with God.

We now live in a culture that’s drowning in options and has 24/7 access to anything Christian.

In fact, I can think of only two compelling reasons to go to church anymore.

You Don’t Attend Church. You Are the Church.

The main reason I gather with the church is because I am the church.

You don’t attend church. You are the church.

Merely attending church doesn’t make you much of a church because sitting in a back row consuming church doesn’t make you very good at being the church.

I think being the church has something to do with living your life for Christ, demonstrating God’s love by serving others and sharing your faith with people. That’s very different than consuming church in a back row, which you can just as easily do on your back deck.

The reason you would go to church today is that you’ve moved from being a consumer to being a contributor. You don’t just go to be served, you go to serve. There’s something deeply scriptural about that.

And before you think that you can do whatever you need to do as a Christian in the world without other Christians or without the church, here are couple of reasons I would disagree.

First, gathering together was Jesus’ idea, not ours. I outline that (and much more) here.

Second, listen to what this young mom had to say about her experience when she started skipping church because of the demands of parenting. Fascinating.

You are the church. Remember that. And the church is at it’s best when we engage in the mission God has given us.

An Experience For the Sake of Those Not Yet in The Room

The second compelling reason to attend a Sunday morning gathering is that you’re bringing a friend with you or because you yourself are exploring Christianity.

I love being part of a church that is constantly designing experiences with those who are not yet in the room in mind.

One of the most exciting things about many growing churches today is they’ve become great at hosting experiences that unchurched people can access and ultimately love to attend. That’s what our church does well, and I love both bringing friends into it for the first time and being there to connect with other people bring their friends.

Spiritual maturity, after all, isn’t about how much you know. It’s about how much you love. And love that doesn’t flow out into the lives of other people isn’t love.

A Dividing Line

So that’s it. Two good reasons to keep attending church.

First, you are the church, which means you’re engaged in the mission in some meaningful way.

And second, you’re creating space where everybody (regardless of their background) can hear and experience the news of Christ’s love for them.

But that also means we live in an age where attending church for attendance’s sake is dying. Fast.

And maybe that’s what we see happening around us. People who aren’t engaged in the mission are leaving the mission.

And while that’s sad, you can’t build the future of the church on passionless, disengaged people. Nor can you build it on consumers.

The future will be built on Christians who want to serve, share and engage the mission of the local church.

Stop Pandering to the Consumers

As a church leader, what do you do in the midst of this?

Well first, stop pandering to the consumers—those who merely attend and won’t engage. Too many leaders spend their time trying to please people who complain much and contribute little.

They have enough options. And you will never be able to please everyone. So stop trying.

As my friend Reggie Joiner says, focus on who you want to reach, not who you want to keep.

Raise The Level of Engagement

Second, focus on engaging people in the mission of the church. Nothing is more exciting. Nothing will change the world more powerfully than the love of Christ shared with a world that so desperately needs it.

Here are 5 reasons engagement is the new church attendance.

And if you want to raise engagement, here are 7 ways to get people more engaged in the mission of your church, so they make the move from merely attending church to being the church.

Keep Unchurched People Front and Center

Third, make sure your church is optimally positioned to accomplish its mission: reaching unchurched people with the love and hope of Christ.

That means everything you do needs to work in a way unchurched people can access. The best churches assume that every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday. We even have that saying mounted on a giant logo on the wall.

One good way to check whether your church is ready to reach the unchurched is to see if teenagers love your church services. Not your alternative service. Your main-open-the-doors-wide service.

If teenagers hate your church service, so will unchurched people.

Not sure if your church is truly positioned to reach unchurched people? These 9 signs will tell you.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing in the end that the era of attending church is dying.

Please hear me, we need more churches. We need more, healthy churches. And we need churches that are doing a fantastic job at reaching people.

What we don’t need more of is churches where people merely attend and never engage.

Got any thoughts on what’s happening?

Scroll down and leave a comment.


  1. Aaron Cole on April 19, 2018 at 11:18 am

    So true! Solid article. As a growing large church, engagement, reaching the lost, and seeing people’s lives transformed by Jesus as they BECOME the church is powerful to witness. Thanks for continuing to inspire and have a pulse on our culture.

  2. Robert Check on March 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    My wife & i left church about 3 years ago-We were attending a denominational church & we had been to 3 major church denominations over the previous 18 years with short breaks in between moving to each church.All our church services were Sunday services however during those 18 years we began going to a Messianic Bible Study Fellowship every second Saturday as well as Sunday Church Services.As time went on we saw clearly that the friendly-loving-welcoming Saturday Fellowship which had Christians from all churches attending was absolutely fantastic with prayer, praise & worship & great Bible teaching.3 years ago in Australia we had a Royal Commission into the sexual & physical abuse of children by institutions & the biggest abusers of children over many many decades were 3 major church denominations & the cover-ups-intimidation-legal challenges & persecution of the victims & their families was horrendous.Abortion is another area the church does not show moral leadership in-same sex marriage recently became law in Australia with many churches supporting legalising an abomination & not confronting the government on what the Bible says.The Australian church is highly compromised with government funding -tax exemptions-tax free status etc & they are scared to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ without fear or favour in case they lose their $$$$$$$$$ from government.My wife & i have commenced a prayer & healing ministry & its open to all people wether Christian or non-Chrsitiian to seek from the Lord Jesus prayer & healing & we give the non -Christians the gospel message of salvation in Christ alone.My wife & i attend the Messianic Bible Study Fellowship every second Saturday & every second Thursday.My wife & i do not miss the politics of churches, their compromised preaching-prosperity gospel-anti-semitism & anti-israel (some churches) & their total lack of understanding that as Christians we are grafted into the root of Israel through Christ,they are not grafted into a denomination-There is the church & there is Israel & God will keep all his covenants with Israel (Abraham) from whom the church through Christ obtains all blessings & not the other way around.Jesus said “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses & the Prophets & the Psalms concerning Me”.Luke 24:44 All these writers were Jewish-Jesus is the Jewish Messiah & King & Saviour of the whole world.The Book of Acts to the Jew first then to the Gentile-When the Church gets back to the pattern set by God as proclaimed by the Apostle’s then the Bride of Christ will be ready for their Bridegroom the Lord Jesus to come without-spot or blemish but Yeshua will reign from Zion in Jerusalem as ruler over the whole Earth.Christians say the Church has replaced Israel -How has the Church replaced Israel? Jesus the Holy One of Israel- Jesus the God of Israel -Yeshua King of Israel-Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

  3. Mark Armstrong on March 20, 2018 at 5:02 am

    I’m a pastor in an Australian regional city and the uses of technology I’m reading about in this article far exceed anything I’ve seen except for, perhaps, a few megachurches in our capital cities. I think technology risks warping our theology of church. Although Carey was not writing a blog on the doctrine of the church, it is nevertheless underpinned by such doctrine. Very briefly, on the plain of Shinar, God scattered people everywhere because they conspired to dethrone God (Gen 11). Scattering and languages are the judgement of God. The Day of Pentecost is the biblical response to this episode. The gathering of God’s people and unity expressed through a common language and a common Spirit (Acts 2). The gospel reverses the events at Babel. “Scattering” is replaced with “gathering”. We are saved for church which is fundamentally the gathering of God’s people. I am not “church”. I am a saved individual and when I gather with other saved people I am experiencing church. Heb 10:24-25 calls us to meet together. This imperative is not erased with technology. In glory we are physically in each other’s presence and our churches should be conceived as “little outposts of heaven”. Technology can be a blessing if we use it within the framework of a biblical doctrine of church.

  4. Suzy on March 19, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Why is Sunday morning- a methodical, timed, and planned service, where we don’t actually interact with one another (unless you HAVE to do the greeting thing that isn’t about sharing yourself or Christ really) – considered “real” worship and gathering as a body? I meet every other week with women from the church for bible or life application study, with a larger body of women once a month to discuss spiritual topics and encourages one another, every other week I serve in the nursery so parents can serve or attend, not to mention various church meetings. Because I choose not to sit in a chair in an auditorium the other 2 times a month – when I won’t be having meaningful conversation with anyone- and watch online, l am not “really” engaged? I gather with other believers, I learn, I worship, and I encourage others. According to this article, I’m not doing enough.

    • Jason on March 19, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Men like this chump who wrote this have no clue. Yeah I said chump. Christ has not bestowed a real revival because the Bride is filthy……they just want more of the same:

      *more of the world inside the church
      *Jesus loves you / we cant judge anyone / that’s between them and God / little or no repentance and no CHANGED life of blood and fire

      Jesus left the church a LONG time ago in this country anyway……..don’t let ANYONE shame you into the shopworn phrase “but….but we are not to foresake the gathering”

      When the gathering is on a broad road to hell and doesn’t care…..but don’t we have a great new building??????? Singing love songs to Jesus, and how we so want “to be like Him”


      Would ANYONE in a modern American church spend 40 days in the desert temped by the devil himself? No. To be betrayed by a disciple, a man you chose? To be degraded, spurned, to be that ‘man of sorrows’? No way. Heck, right before I quit mine there was a pall one Sunday morning because “the air conditioner was broken” and of course “my child will get heat exhaustion” and “Its just too hot”

      So is hell

      You would think these “devout, i love jesus more than anything Christians” were being thrown into the furnace by their incessant complaining. Most of the Christian world now doesn’t even meet in a church (China for example) and I lived in India………some of the churches there are ramshackled corrugated metal and cardboard with a palm frond roof. The flock is just happy to have a cup of tea after the service before they walk six miles back home in 100 degree heat.

      Where are the signs and wonders???? It doesn’t happen here anymore. Men being lifted off their seats and dropped at the altar. Witnesses of men and women shredding tghe program and sweating in fear of God. Doesn’t happen. Even Penatcostals would not believe it if they saw this today.

      God left the American church decades ago. Perhaps THAT is a sign

  5. Craig Anderson on March 18, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I read most of the comments on this post. Wow! So many hurting people! It’s really hard to read. I pray for the Grace of God to work in every life. May He bring bring healing and peace to each person. If the church is going to become “without spot or wrinkle” as Ephesians says (5;27) then a lot of change is ahead of us. I am deeply saddened that so many have been hurt by church. The church is people, – as Carey says – we are the church. The church is His bride, If I’m in it and you’re in it, then we are in the same church – we all need to be part of the answer. I pray I can walk in humility and forgive those who have hurt me, then I can become a little more like Jesus.

  6. DMc on January 5, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    This article sows the seeds of its own destruction. When you design a service for people (“One good way to check whether your church is ready to reach the unchurched is to see if teenagers love your church services”), you are programming them to expect to be catered to, i.e., to be church consumers rather than the body of Christ. Hello!

    • Noel on March 16, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      My wife and I served in Church from the moment we became Christians in 1987 from setting out chairs to Sunday School teaching to door to door outreach to leading to preaching to Pastoring first as part of a Church leadership core team for 8 years and then for 7 years as leaders of a small Church we were asked to lead – which, in the end, burnt us out completely – me especially – and I simply collapsed one day…drained in every way possible…carbonised…

      Our “decision” (my breakdown) to step down , “survive” and try to help the folks to find other churches (there was no-one to take our place), was initially met with shock, then resignation and ultimately deep resentment.

      Apart from a handful of friends (to this day) in the Church, we might as well not have existed, eaten bread is soon forgotten.

      Worse was to follow, the founding pastor of the Church and his wife slandered us to whoever cared to listen, and there were many, with a false narrative that “we just walked away…plain and simple”

      The numbing shock and deep shame of incapacitating ministerial collapse was exacerbated by this betrayal and cruel judgement.

      Our true friends loved and supported us, saved us, through the literally devastating collapse of a fabric, a frame of reference, a community, that simply turned away when we needed them most.

      We discovered very quickly that Church relationships turned out to be contingent relationships.

      The pain of enquiring “loving” phone calls and coffees with leaders we’d known were actually recruiting rather than restoring “care” – as soon as they realised how broken I was, the love-bombing quickly ended.

      We no longer go to Church.

      We don’t conceive of ever returning to Church.

      We love Christ.


      • Jack on March 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

        I know your pain, same thing happened here, only it was not the former Pastor, people started spreading lies and no matter what we did, the congregation refuses to help. I see my “exit” is getting closer everyday.

      • Rick Wuorenma on March 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

        The last day we attended church was the day (the wife and I) “donated” another FRN to “the cause.” The cause was another (great) building project. It was brick-n-motar. It was the hard stuff of the world. OH ya, it was a good cause. For the youth! We must have a place for the youth.

        THEN GOD broke through. In a quiet and gentle voice, we looked at each other in the days that followed that “donation” and the Lord of the universe asked us (where is the discipleship part in this building). There is a big (life-long) story leading up to that question. But it ALL boils down to this…the church has become a business so the church people can pay their school loan back, pay the mortgage, pay the guy to give a great (religion) speech, pay for the mailing to pay for the …

        We now go to TV church. I gather with other men every Friday for prayer, breakfast and Bible. No great mission to support and most of all the place needs our business. We are safe. We talk “big boy stuff.” The wife asks every week, “what did you talk about?” Well; she is still in the (no church for me thing still). Her church is rest from all the business of the busy marketplace. Resting at home with a cup of coffee and the dog. Her church is me and her talking about the PODcast I just listened to on the internet.

        Now we give our FRN’s to the other TV churches who we will probably never see (or visit) in the flesh.

        May God have mercy, RLW

        • T Duncan on May 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

          RLW I keep having the same thoughts. When 90% of the church income goes to building loans, staff salaries, and 10% to mission and ministry that just seems so wrong. I do homeless and hungry ministry each week and I see where the money I give to church could do SO much for the homeless and hungry. I feel much more like Jesus’ church when I am serving and praying with the people in need than I do on Sunday in a church building.

      • Don on March 19, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Noel – it would be good to remember that people are people and God is God. People will let you down, hurt you, desert you, and take your soul if you let them (thanks James Taylor). Remember the rest of that lyric? Ah, but don’t you let them… Love, forgive, and live life without remembering what fallen children of God have done to you. I have had a staggering amount of things said about me and my wife. All falsehood and lies. We don’t care. We love God, so we love people. Learn to move on, find a church like Carey’s, and help people find Jesus. That is all that matters! 🙂

  7. Terry on October 17, 2017 at 9:32 am

    This article resonates with the last decade of my life as a Christian. My wife and I, after growing up in church, were spiritually flatlined and stopped attending church. Our marriage was weak and failing. Our faith was something we intellectually clung to but not something we were living. Upon attending my old church after a long stint away I found myself annoyed that no one had realized I had been missing (consumerism? Totally)

    The church we joined in Cleveland has several institutional mechanisms in place designed to challenge people out of their religious consumerism. First, if you’re a member you are required to serve on Sundays. There’s an alternating schedule so you aren’t serving every week. But if you’re a member, you serve. Period. And you can’t serve if you aren’t a member. If you want to teach Sunday school or play in the band, you have to become a covenanted member.

    Members are also expected to be a part of a Community group within the church. These small groups are centered around 1.) digging deeper into the weekly sermon topic/scripture 2.) providing a place where being spiritually challenged face to face is habitual and 3.) the expectation that each group will engage their neighborhood with the gospel.

    There are other ways too, but these 2 have been particularly valuable to my wife and I over the last 5 years. Our marriage is strong and our faith is growing.

    • JK on March 17, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      I’m glad such a situation is working out for you. I’ve been in churches where I’ve felt hounded to do all kinds of volunteer work I can’t do. I’m not a mother but taught Sunday School for two years. It took a long time to find material and crafts. Finally I had to give it up because I couldn’t spare that time due to another problem. And everyone got mad at me even though they had a full team (I was a committee of 2) to work on the Sunday School.
      I’ve been asked to prepare food, but as a vegetarian who gets depressed going by the meat counter at the supermarket, I’ve no desire to be making ham sandwiches etc. That has caused hostility from some of the church’s ladies. Several won’t even speak to me.
      I was asked to work in the altar guild and couldn’t because I’m allergic to the brass and silver cleaners. That made me unpopular too.
      Now I go to only one small service a month or so and very few functions.I donate a large weekly donation via bank transfer and my husband and I do the church newsletter. My main reason for attending is for communion and worship. I wish someone would ask me what my skills and knowledge entails and find something that would suit me at the church. I’ve heard this kind of story from others who have felt so hounded for volunteer work that they’ve left the church altogether. If I was in a church that gave me the ultamatum of either contributing or else, I’d find another church.

  8. Linda Willeke on October 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Excellent article. I totally agree that we ARE the church and the church exists for us and perhaps even more so for those “outside the doors”. I think one aspect you may have missed is that many of us go to church because we desire to meet Christ in the Eucharist and believe that he is truly present there to feed us in the bread and wine.

    • JK on March 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

      I totally agree!

  9. Ben on August 25, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Good post Carey.
    In my humble opinion, both personal and congregational mission mindsets are critical.
    I’ve experienced that having an outward (and upward) focus has led me too many opportunities for showing love and care during my week/everyday life. I also appear to witness many more of Gods blessings and mercies when not obsessed with my needs and my busyness. This isn’t all fairy floss and fluffy kittens, sometimes Gods beauty is revealed in the most gritty of situations.
    As congregations, I believe we also have an important missional role to play as there are some things that can only be implemented as a group. Working together to bless your town, the poor, the sick or the environment can build amazing camaraderie amongst your church family whilst channelling combined energies/effort outwardly.
    Sad thing is that in these times, the above seems so countercultural to both society and the church.
    Better days are ahead though…genuine mission to radically and authentically share the love of Christ is becoming a shining beacon in present turbulent times.

  10. Bette on August 4, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I think the most important way to grow the church is to make sure the church is a body of people who love one another. People of all ages, who see people genuinely care for each other on a Sunday morning or Saturday night or whenever the body gathers, will be drawn in and want to be a part of that living body. The message, the music, the setting are all secondary to the bigger command of Jesus to “love one another”.

  11. Morgan Chiverton on August 3, 2017 at 1:07 am

    Amazing article! I’m going to get your book (s)

  12. Jason on July 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Yet very soon on this blog or another one we’ll hear about “my church accepts everyone and tells them to come as they are”

    I left church for the following reasons:

    *Limp, spineless “ministry” that helps the poor ONLY at Christmas, and then spends the rest of the year talking about all the amazing “work” they do for the poor. I want action that is lived.

    *Mean church ladies / self-righteous church mommy’s. Yeah, the women who think they own the church. They view single men like myself as sex-depraved, unable to do anything or lead anything…then complain when you do try or want to. They forgive a single man if he looks like Ryan Gosling or looks like a leading man from a “Hallmark Channel” made-for-TV-movie……..then they have free run of the place. Most have a very passive-aggressive attitude that is never called out, and gently corrected. More tiring than anything. The pastors are actually terrified of them. Visitors quickly don’t come back to that.

    *Church music. I am so tired of contemporary ‘christian’ music. It’s more like an American Idol performance……..the cool guy with the tattoo. The pastors (cough) virginal daughter with always a solo. Repetitive, repetitive and repetitive dumb phrases “You are my God and I will worship you”. Weak, insipid, and uninspiring lyrics, and outright theft of a secular song, and putting “god” or “jesus” in it, and now it’s a Christian song! It looks and is fake. Flashing lights, disco balls, smoke machines, remote microphones……….dare you criticize???? You have a “critical spirit” and “we have to do this, or the young people won’t come” and you look around the church……and the young people are not there or in the lobby ‘hanging out’

    *Talking about sin? Only men are sinners, and women were always “led astray” by a no good, lazy, porn addicted, living in mommy’s basement, no job, type of man.

    *Relationships are phony and surface only. Sure, the men meet up and “man up” and then they go home. They is zero genuine friendships being built. Mention this? You have a “critical spirit” and “what are you doing about it?” and you want to do more…and of course…..you are not allowed to start anything……

    *More concern with numbers, numbers, numbers…the new church building program

    *Bible studies that are (cough) “bold” but just like church, when they are over….no personal changes.

    *Sermons that are always about “not judging” yet the “inner clique” of the church are the most judgmental people you will ever see

    *You pick up your cross. You want to be like Jesus….and the whole body then thinks and accuses you of “Oh….who does he think he is? He thinks he is better than us!!!”

    *The usual gossip that is never addressed.

    I went on a 150 mile backpacking trek in June. Guess what???? I had more fellowship with Jesus in the beauty of God’s creation in the wilderness of mountains, rivers, remote ponds and the stillness and beauty of it all. I was challenged. I wasn’t judged. I wasn’t gossiped about. I wasn’t given passive-aggressive attitudes, and the song of the wind, the rain…the feeling of the sun, the crystal air……………..devotional and prayers in the morning. Reading His Word by the light of a campfire at night……….

    Got more solved and figured out in my life that I ever got figured out INSIDE a church. Even repented from sin. Came to terms with what I had done in my life that was sinful, and rotten in the eyes of God.

    Church, you can keep your ‘hip-pastors’ your “new” buildings. Your dumb songs, your silly attempts to look “authentic” and copy-cat to the WORLD. Your fake “family” and marriage-as-an-idol image that you deny but live and act out.

    • Ange on August 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Agreed, Jason. Unfortunately, people will continue to judge and condemn us for not contributing more to the church and this is why we feel like this. My husband and I got sick and tired of trying to connect and get involved where we are gifted to get involved. We were told we had to be greeters before we could be small group leaders. I was told that as a woman I could only teacher Sunday school. We participated in small groups where the leaders didn’t contact the group at all during the week or during the summer break. We longed for relationships and purpose and left broken-hearted. This is the church?

      • Jason on August 13, 2017 at 1:58 pm

        In these times, the church is going to have to actually LIVE what it preaches. Not just on Sunday. I keep hearing “family” but there was no one I really could call in my church if I was in a jam. The usual attitude is: “Well, what did YOU do about it?”

        I really wasn’t allowed to do anything.

        Reach out? Gossiped about. Don’t reach out? You are not making an effort.

        I would like to a find a church that wants to help me grow. Not “do” everything for me. Not to be “popular” and not to be considered a “leader”

        I would just like the true fellowship, repentance, striving, learning and example that Christ lived. Revolutionary indeed.

        Until then…….I will push myself to stay in prayer daily. Devotionals. Scripture reading, and watching some sermons online from pastors that actually teach about heaven and hell.

      • Elizabeth Kirk on August 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        Sadly, I have to agree with you, I have had very similar experiences, and am still frustrated . I recently started attending an AME church and WOW.. I am relatively new, so I am not familiar with the “practices” etc, and just offer to help when necessary.. This past Sunday, I just kind of took over during a “crunch” time before worship service, and ran off programs for the extra people who came. One of the older members came up and said WOW, you have only been here 3 x and you are stepping up to “help” …. Like it was a tremendous surprise.. Guess where I am going next week. ??

        • Jerry McDowell on March 17, 2018 at 5:49 pm

          i dont have the answer .but i do see a lack of want to and desire . you may have a big crowd sunday morning .come sunday night 15 would be a crowd . what i do know is the anointing destroys the yoke. with in us is 2 battles flesh man vs spirit man ..jesus told peter the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak… Jesus also told peter upon this Rock i will build my church… what is that rock thou art the Christ.. we put Jesus on the throne and us on the cross .it boils down folks are not interested . programs are not working .. how about just do some good old fashioned HolyGhost preaching

    • Stan on October 15, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Well, Jason. I cannot say this is the experience at my church.
      I also have to say ( yes I have to if no one else will) that you have a lot of baggage that has not been dealt with here.
      I suggest working through some of your issues and if you continue to use the church as a scapegoat, I don’t ever see complete healing of past hurts, wrongs, pain and I suspect misunderstandings and misinterpretations of people’s motives an actions.

      • Jason on October 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        Great! Happy that you found a church where this is not your experience!

        However, it is the experience for many, and tons of men (hence why they are not going) and to “deny” this and use the excuses “these men have baggage and issue to work out!”

        How “bold” and “brave” of you to say this! Make sure you tell your fellow deacons / leaders / pastor that you were “bold” for Jesus this week.

        This shows most that you really have no care for the vast swath of people who don’t come to church….as long as your “club” doesn’t get rocked and church can not longer wring their hands and say “well, people just don’t want to know Him”

        They do. People are screaming for a Savior. They don’t see Him in church, and this reflects the trends, attendance and attitude today. The “end times” warnings are for all of us…………..especially those who “claim” and “know” Him.

        • theartist on March 19, 2018 at 11:42 am

          TO Jason AND the Many others who have/are experiencing-I UNDERSTAND and KNOW where you are coming from. I am experiencing it. I am also an EMPLOYEE and will be leaving my position of 25 years. Even though I will remain a member (until My assigment(s) here are complete and my administrative replacment is trained), in the interim, Along with The Word of God (Bible) I am reading A.W.Tozer, Oswald Chambers, and Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey, and E.M Bounds. What led me to these late great men (saints) of our Lord? Because of the superficial teaching of the Church where I work/attend. The severe lack of spiritual growth, the repetitive teaching of the “fundamentals,” a carelessness (event only) attiude in reaching the lost. Introverted (church to church) fellowship and not Church to community. Where certain families are elevated and others dismissed. Leadership surrounded by “yes men” who dare not challenge-even while being clearly mislead. No true repetence of sin, little knowledge of Spiritual Warfare, nor what are moral absolutes or the meaning and significance of what it means to have a Biblical Worldview, therefore sin abounds -I knew there was MORE-and I asked the Lord to lead me to the MORE. While you are not attending a physical Church now-Please YouTube Francis Chan. This man of God is authentic in expounding on God’s Word-and living it out. Ask God to give you a new home. The only perfect Home is in Heaven. But God commands that we “not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers”. He will give us our new Houses of Worship. Will there be porcupines there too? YES. But God can give us less of these-wherever He ultimately plants us.
          P.S. Dr. Henry Cloud’s book “Necessary Endings” is a catalyst in my moving forward. This Christian pscychologist hits the bullseye.

    • Mary on October 15, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      Wow, I wish that your experience was different…. but sadly I understand and have to agree with you. It is terribly frustrating to try and make changes with the old guard causing waves. As a pastor’s daughter ( I didn’t sing solo’s) and a pastor’s wife…. of 35 years. It is so easy to give up and not want to invite people to our church. I do pray that I can be the change and make it work and that God’s love will transcend my mistakes… my sins and I will be able to honour Him each and every day not just Sunday’s. Love is the answer.

    • Larry Robinson on January 9, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Wow. You are slamming a heavy hammer. Driving in nails with each blow. I find that a huge majority of Southern Baptist churches in Central Texas are exactly like what you are saying. Tragic. Sadly, most church members look in mirrors and see something different than what non attendants (not just non believers) see.

    • Steve Fletcher on March 17, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Jason, you listed several attitudes that do exist in many churches. I think Carey put fort a positive way to overcome many of those negatives. Engagement by more people. There is a good chance you are not the only one to notice the negatives. By working with the pastor or elders a person can unite others in correcting those negatives with their active engagement.

    • Anna Kleinschmidt on March 19, 2018 at 2:14 am

      @Jason: Amen to all!! Especially regarding music and building projects! I could not agree more. You are right Brother. God has left the building long ago!

    • Mike on June 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Jason – Lots of today’s churches are just as you described. My wife and I left one about 10 years ago (in which I had led a Bible study), joined another – but then the pastor and 1/3 of the members left and it circled the drain…

      We church-hopped for a couple of years driving ever farther away to find a church that was Biblically-focused and had some depth. No luck yet, and now we stay home on Sundays.

      I’m absolutely sick of the shallow sermons, church-growth numbers games, and dishonest and disingenuous behavior of the staff, elders and deacons. I’ll pass.

      I’m not going back. Churches in the USA are shrinking at an alarming rate and from what I can tell the decline will continue. If people want shallow, light entertainment mixed with “how to live a better life” they can stay home and watch TV, where at least the music is better…

  13. Sina on July 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Blessed by this artile – Thank you

    • Jason Maloney on July 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Well said and to most I would agree. Thanks for sharing.

      Everytime I read an article like this, which is often lately, I ask my self what this means for denominations who are supported by the local church tithe, which in turn support missions, church planting and other ministries.

      Supporting the store house is important as well.

    • Mags Lewis on July 28, 2017 at 7:36 am

      As a church leader with my husband for thirty years in the U.K. I have spent all my energynencoudaging the flock to reach the lost but each time in each church we did this the flock complain that they don’t want the types of people that we bring in or the problems they bring with them
      They just want us to be there for their needs to be met and get fed and cared for this is all well and good but it doesn’t change the world or grow the church ! We are in a time of waiting on the Lord for what he wants us to do next but my energy is sapped by church goers who fight fall out and complain ! This is a wasted if valuable leadership ministry experience all because the church is too selfish and introverted so at the moment I am giving church a wide berth as it saps me of everything that is good sad but true and there are many more like me !
      They just want us to be

      • elizabeth Kirk on July 28, 2017 at 10:49 am

        Mags,, sorry you feel this way, but I am in total agreement about churches not wanting “those”kind of people, i.e. blacks, LGBT, Hispanics, etc.. Somewhere in this whole church situation “Jesus and his message and actions ” have been totally lost…

  14. Micael on July 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Very interesting article. I agree with many options set out by the author in order to transform the church so it reaches again to every members and non-members.
    But what about the Holy Spirit? It’s seems like it’s been forgotten here. Maybe it reveals how much it’s been forgotten in our churches as well?
    I like that quote from A. W Tozer ” If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95% of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 % of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference”.

    • jamie on July 23, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I agree about what Michael said about the Holy Spirit. If we have to “get ” people to want to be involved then we are working in our own power.
      Also, Biblically speaking, the church is for believers of Jesus. It is not for the unsaved.
      (fellowship of believers). We are to be the church and do the work ourselves. Preach, tell, deliver, heal, baptize, make disciples. Jesus told us to do that. Yes we should have fellowship with other believers but it does not have to be in a certain building, at a certain time etc.

  15. Andre Afamasaga on July 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    One of the best articles I’ve read on this subject ever. Thank you.

  16. Kai on July 21, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I agree with this article… excluding the fact that a lot of people have been hurt by churches by getting involved. I know that I have gotten severely burned by getting “too close” twice (by the only two churches Ive been truly involved in). This breaks the part of you that trusted the church, which results in you taking a “break” (which, at the time, you swear won’t be a temporary one).
    Months or years later, you decide you miss going to church because you need to be fed in order to get to the place where you were before the church incident. But going to church will not be an option (and I mean, WILL NOT) if you have to be involved in order to attend. That period of attending but only being fed (and holding off the serving) is very crucial in order to slowly ease yourself back into trusting “church” (as we’ve made it in North America) again.
    So please, if you’re in that period of needing to be fed but protecting your heart by not yet getting involved, know that that is not wrong and you aren’t the only one. ❤

    • Kathy Smith on July 21, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Totally agree. Been burned twice by church politics. At this point in my life, I need to attend with no expectations.

    • elizabeth Kirk on July 23, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Kai: so totally true, been there done that, and the part about church politics is true also… especially when your own pastor tells you that he would rather see you (a member for 30 years) leave than a newer person who he personally likes better but who has never been involved in service in the church. Can you imagine the heart break and disappointment one would feel, coming from their own pastor.

      • Lev on February 16, 2018 at 9:47 pm

        I don’t have to imagine it, this is reality. To preach and being careful to practically implement: Love the kind that God is, God gave and gives and the resulting interactions between active believers, is a mute subject. Jesus gives the command to love oneanother as by these means the world will look and see Jesus’ desciples.
        Instead there is pastor encouraged ageism, bullying, ministry hunting (rather than support another’s ministry, looking to take it off the other person), separating (one of the biblical key words and ideas is love and together, rather than discouraging older folks with the “youth must have it!”. The biblical pattern is old and young to work together till the old drop off because of fading physical strength and God calling them home. Seing and having visions and dreams is intergenerational, catching the fire from each other and each other on spurning to build on God’s kingdom.), favouritism, hitting your serving brother/sister with disrespect, blocking and hanging out to dry (this is how that works: being asked to do a project but then starving it of any ingredients or interaction, so the project can’t progress. Then suddenly you hear as surprise in an announcement that brother/sister so and so (he/she has wealth, accalades, worldly position and in the case of power women who like to throw their weight around (the people that make the pastor tick)) is doing this project. He/she does get all the cooperation possible. This pattern repeats.
        Church folk who are adamant that they will NOT work with anybody other than themselves. Their conduct is encouraged and firmed up because they are pastor’s favourites.
        Making love your aim, encourage each other etc are rare luxuries. This causes rather than being encouraged for closer fellowship with each other and the Lord, to be repelled.
        No love IN the church, no difference to the world, no effective witness to the world.
        No love, then the preaching and other do-good activities are just noise making cymbals, causing ear ache, heart ache, belly ache (bad feelings and unease about church) and a dismembered body. Hence the Letter to the Ephesians in Revelation.
        Servant hearts become soo discouraged that they look to leave; if they make their feeling known it gets met with the spiritoanalysis list:
        Yep, he isn’t secure in the father’s love etc and “not forgetting the assemblying of ourselves” of course.
        Maybe demonstrating what God’s love IS like by showing at least unfavoured respect (the first thing that is part of the AGAPE love container) and by making sure that people in an interest group MUST work together, not breaking a smoldering wick, strengthening the weak knees, going after the sheep that’s about to or has fallen (rather than “I won’t go after them!”) would be better. Let him who wants to be the greatest be the servant of all.
        That still leaves enough to do for having to forgive each other as we are all different.
        It’s sad and wasteful if a Christian is forced to be a talent burying, now nailed in Jack in his box (no more jouful bounce) :'(

        • Elizabeth Kirk on February 17, 2018 at 1:52 pm

          Lev, great response.. key words that stood out to me: If there is no love in the church, you make no difference in the world , and are not an effective witness in the world… Many church people stay in that happy little box that meets on Sunday morning (or evening) and never think about, or do anything for the people in their own immediate neighborhood, or church neighborhood… I miss the concept of church “family” as I have had in other churches I belonged to, but this “family” worked outside of the church also.. I have had to accept, so far , that this, closed door “church” is what I have found for the most part in the various churches I have attended recently as I continue my “seeking” journey.. I have recently found solice in seeking a more universal religious connection, i.e. attending and learning more about “other” religions, i.e. Baha’i and Islam.. yet still maintaining my ties to several local churches…but without significant enthusiasm… I am not surprised that the statistics for church attendance continue to plummet.

  17. Chris on July 21, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I like Francis Chan’s take on the church. I work for and attend a mega church in the inland empire in California. Sunday feel pretty lonely sitting in our big new worship center. My husband and i get up for the 6th day of the week, hassle the traffic, ride a bus from the parking lot and leave without connecting with anyone. HOWEVER… our small group overcomes the isolated Sunday morning experience, which is completely necessary in a large church. I think about those who don’t have the connections I have by working for the church and how they feel.

    • Raymond Hays on July 21, 2017 at 11:21 am

      I have read most of the responses here and I find them all to have a heartfelt base.
      The one thing I can ask of those who mentioned the Mega churches, is why are you going there? I have visited a number of these “Mega” churches and found if one asks; when and how did you get “saved” you will get a verity of answers, but a large number of the youth have no idea of what you speak, they come because their friends come, and they like the music which to some is like going to a Free concert. then there are the not so young folk who will come right out and tell you they are there because they can bury themselves or get lost in the crowd and not really get involved with much of what the “Church” is all about. They just come enjoy the music service and the feel good message and get out as fast as they can in order to beat the traffic. After they go they can say to themselves we have done our duty as Christians, and that should last us through the week until next time.
      Then there are the Mega churches where it seems as if everyone is involved they go out to the community, seek out the lost and bring them in meet their individual needs showing them the true religion of Faith in Jesus. Thus the church grows and there is something for everyone.
      I remember in the church I attended in Seattle as you leave the sanctuary there was a sign over the doors that read “YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD”

  18. Lenita Scholer on July 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    We are the communion of saints, we need to gather together to be the church. I hate online, live TV, mega church, I am not here to be entertained. I’m here for the message, the fellowship and communion. Maybe Im too old already but church is for everyone, we should not cater to any one group. You learn what you live, if you grow up in the church, you will be come back to the church. I taught my kids Jesus is their rock. They can depend on him when all else fails. I love our pastor, our church, and the community we have. I wished I could spend more time there. An hour a week is really not enough……

    • Larry McCoy Sr. on July 22, 2017 at 11:13 am

      1/168 is a very week week. I know a lot of people that think one hour on Sunday morning is just right. I am a “senior” person and I have a church background since I accepted Jesus at the age of 12 at a church camp. I know a lot of people that attend to satisfy the desire to “fellowship” with other Christians. I know that each person has to be given a “roll” to attend. Being active is very important to continue attending.

  19. Daryl Billings on July 20, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    If I am sitting in a chair in a building, worshiping the Father and learning the truth that comes from the Father’s heart, am I attending church? If I am in the ICU unit praying with people who are desperate for the Lord to change their situation, am I attending church? If I am listening to a parent who doesn’t understand the choices their teenage child is making, am I attending church? If I am comforting a friend who just lost a loved one, am I attending church? If I stop while I am shopping and pray with the man using crutches, am I attending church. If I give the homeless person a sandwich and a bottle of water, am I attending church? Of course, I am! You can see where I am going with this, I hope. The Church is the body of Christ and when we do the things we see Him do and say the things we see Him say, then we are in attendance with the Church He is building. Let’s get real about Church and do the things He asked us to do.

    • Luke on July 21, 2017 at 10:05 am

      I’d agree you are worshiping when you are doing those things, but there is more to “going to church” than just worshiping. Sure, we should seek to worship Jesus in all we do. However, “going to church” is much more connected with keeping the Sabbath. That is, we are commanded to have a rest time where we meet and gather with other believers. We are commanded after all to not stop meeting together as some are in the habbit of doing. Skirting around what God has plainly asked us to do by, instead, labeling everything we do as “going to church,” kinda misses the point. Yes, worship God in all you do. But one of those things we should do is gather with other believers to rest in the grace, mercy and presence of Jesus.

    • Francis Pule on July 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      You are not going to church, you have just described what being the church looks like.
      You are living out what it means to be part of the kingdom of God.

      Bless you mate.

    • Patricia Saunders on July 23, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Love this comment.

  20. Richard Haag on July 20, 2017 at 11:12 am

    The Church today has stopped studying scripture. He gave us his word but sermons tend to be about feelings.

  21. Sandra on July 20, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Wow, reading a lot of the comments, people are really picking up on this whole age-gap thing.

    Carey’s statement was “One good way to check whether your church is ready to reach the unchurched is to see if teenagers love your church services. Not your alternative service. Your main-open-the-doors-wide service. If teenagers hate your church service, so will unchurched people.”

    The point was that teenagers generally have their finger on the pulse of our culture, so if you want to reach the unchurched – who are the culture – then check out what the teens think. Adolescents can tell when someone is teaching fluff and they can sense inauthenticity a mile away. If they hunger for what is being taught, then you are going to reach the culture. The danger is when the Gospel is not being preached in the middle of it. THAT Truth is what the culture is eager to hear. And if it is being preached in an authentic, vulnerable, welcoming community – to people of all ages, stages, ethnicities and demographics – then the unchurched will be drawn. It is not the light-show, the rock and roll music, the whatever. All people want Truth. All people want to be welcome in an authentic community. Teens are only your thermometer.

    • Sarah on July 20, 2017 at 10:14 am

      “The danger is when the Gospel is not being preached in the middle of it. THAT Truth is what the culture is eager to hear. And if it is being preached in an authentic, vulnerable, welcoming community – to people of all ages, stages, ethnicities and demographics – then the unchurched will be drawn. It is not the light-show, the rock and roll music, the whatever. All people want Truth. All people want to be welcome in an authentic community. Teens are only your thermometer.”

      • Sammye Heald on July 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

        I am still looking for a church that does not pander to the young but loves the elderly too. Most I have attended have a band (too loud), a praise team of about 4 people, and a choir that sits in those seats but do not really act as a choir. They chant something you see on a big screen and have forgotten about the beautiful hymns we used to sing to praise our lord. I guess what I want and am looking for is a church like I grew up in….a church where everyone was welcome and the pastor really preached about God and Jesus and the love they have for all mankind. I just have not found that yet.

        • Luke on July 21, 2017 at 10:11 am

          The article is kinda about how we don’t go to church to consume church. That is, it’s not about our personal preferences or wants. Pandering to either the young or old because that’s what someone prefers is not what this article is about at all. It’s about getting away from worrying about trying to find any kind of church that caters to anyone, young or old, other than finding a church that caters to the mission of Jesus which is, to seek and save the lost.

        • Raymond Hays on July 21, 2017 at 10:54 am

          Sammy, I have to agree with you, in that I am still searching for the kind of fellowship that builds you and reinforces what you believe. A church should be a gathering place of all peoples who are like minded in the service of the Lord, be you young or old, age is irrelevant except for the fact that older Christians should be looked up to by the younger, and older Christians should be setting an example and mentoring the younger Christian. Sometimes tho, the younger Christian is more mature than some elders but he shows respect, and Just as Jesus did as a young person teaching in the Temple by asking the elders questions that may lead to both or all learning.
          Yes I too would love to find a church that is balanced. A Church based in the community for the community.

  22. Sallie on July 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    “If teenagers hate your church service, so will unchurched people.”

    Really? The focus of a church is to be what teenagers think? And the unchurched? Isn’t the church supposed to be a gathering of the body of Christ for mutual edification and building up? If others want to come in and see what is happening, they should be welcome to observe and listen. And all generations should be welcome – both young AND old. But to focus on what teens like? And the unchurched? Based on what?

    • Phyllis on July 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Exactly!! I agree with the statement “we ARE the Church.” Preaching the Truth, the Bible, the Gospel, as well as Law… well, that would be a worship service! No gimmicks & games.

    • Sandra on July 20, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Sallie, I believe that is a great statement. If teenagers, who have their fingers on the pulse of the culture, feel welcome and engaged in a church service, the unchurched – those immersed in the culture – will as well. Yes, ALL generations should be welcome and we should be doing all we can to engage people of all ages, stages, ethnicities and cultures. But the teens are the gauge of how relevant our church is presenting the gospel to the culture.

      • Sallie on July 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        The gathering of the church is for the building up and edification of the Body of Christ. I still don’t understand where from the Scriptures (or even tradition before the past thirty years) people get the idea that we are supposed to be “relevant” and appeal to people immersed in the culture. I thought the point of growing up was to be able to participate with the adults, not expect the adults to pander to the lowest common denominator. Where is the idea even remotely implied in the Scriptures that teenagers know what appeals to the lost who are enamored with the culture so that should guide our services?

        • Dana Williams on July 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm

          Don’t take such a low view of teenagers. They are more astute than they often get credit for.

        • Dan slishet on July 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

          Amen Sister!!!! In fact, it should never be about how relevant the church is to any segment of society. It is not about segmental presentations with slick marketing programs. It’s about being light and salt in a dark and rotting world.

  23. Travis Haines on July 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    “On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.”
    – R. Kent Hughes

    • Jacqueline Scott on July 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      All I can say is an excellent assessment! Thank you & GOD Bless!

  24. linda on July 19, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I am the church… but “old people” are expected to sit down and shut up. “Our youth” are the church of today…

    It’s downright hurtful — and unfortunately, “older people” are not the only ones who are given a very low place on the pecking order.

    Sometimes faithful are not treated like they are the ones who are wanted or needed.

    • Chris on July 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      I hear you and relate. The sad part is that there is a pecking order in the church at all. A shame that some Pastors are the ones who have created the pecking order and are dividing the flock. God loves all people, and the church above all, should want and need all Christians.

    • Pam on July 19, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      This is so true. My elderly parents and their friends all feel pushed aside in the church I grew up in. They even went to the consistory to ask where they now fit in. They were told basically they served their time and now it us the next generation who will step up. As a result many older members of this congregation left. As did their tithing. And guess which generation faithfully tithes. Now there is s financial burden in the church. The church needs to be a place for every generation.

  25. Michael Gresham on July 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Hebrews 10: 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

    If we stop attending church how will the church plan and carry out their missions of reaching the poor? You my friend are in danger. You are misleading Christ’s sheep.

    • Jeremy on July 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Dude…did you actually read the whole article and not just the title? If you did, you may want to go back and read it slowly after you’ve taken some deep breaths. Peace.

  26. Rick Foster on July 19, 2017 at 11:54 am

    While I agree with much that the article says, I wish that the title of the article was different. To many, it probably does not matter. To me, an English major and a pastor, it matters greatly. I wish the title was something like “Why I choose to attend church.” To me, this is positive. The way it comes across is negative and gives people ammunition for not attending church. I do not think this is the focus, or intent, of the article.

  27. Rachel on July 19, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Jesus says He is “where 2 or 3 are gathered in his name”…. Early church was held in homes. I live the small gatherings of believers. We host cowboy church at our boarding stable. There aren’t many cowboys in PA, but we meet with people who won’t attend a traditional church. I get what you’re saying and I have thoughts that are too detailed for a internet reply. Sometimes articles like this feel like institutional religion drival. There are many ways we encourage each other and “have church” outside of the church building. Btw, I am a subscriber to your podcast, and I enjoy listening.

  28. Jim F. on July 18, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    One simple reason to go is the sacrament of holy communion. Amen.

    • Jason on July 19, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Yes! The Word and the Sacrament are God’s gifts of grace to us! And while it may be possible to hear the Word via a podcast… you cannot receive Christ’s Body and Blood (as He bids us to do) from the comforts of the couch. Christian saints commune together, they pray together and they worship / praise together. If you were to look through the Scriptures (especially in the original languages) you’d find out pretty quickly that worship is NOT something an individual does; it is a “group activity”. That’s not my opinion; that’s what God says in His Word.

  29. Andy on July 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    One of the reasons we should attend church, the author never mentions, is that it is a basic pillar of the Christian faith, as it is a commandment to do so. Hebrews 10:25.
    It is also where the Apostle Paul tells us to live out our faith with fear and trembling Philippians 2:12. We are called to gather at church, as the church, where our lives serve as a testimony of God’s glory to the world around us. Church serves as a symbol of our relationship to God to those outside of the church.

    • Kristy on July 18, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      He does say it is mandatory because it was Jesus’ idea …

      “First, gathering together was Jesus’ idea, not ours. I outline that (and much more) here.”

    • John latham on July 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      I don’t disagree with you entirely…but you do have to consider Hebrews 10:25 in context. It does say we are not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” but also says what we are to do when we show up…”exhorting one another” which basically means getting involved and having input into the lives of others through service, which is basically what the author is saying is the motivation to attend.

  30. Elizabeth Kirk on July 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I totally agree with 90% of what you are saying .. I have been “church shopping” for over a year, and even wrote an article about my various experiences and sent it to the pastors of each church.. Article was not critical, just simply factual, items like, not being greeted at the door,,, (and not being able to even find the right door), having to hunt for a bulletin, being pushed aside so people could reach over me to greet each other during the greeting time, and basically absolutely no one speaking to me. I listed several other specific events also, once again not critical , and also sent a copy to a local pastor who is (was) working on a book about greeting and bringing people into the church. She was so impressed she asked if she could “copy” some of my comments.. I would love to send you a copy, and a copy of the response I got from one of the 5 churches..

    I found this letter to be almost insulting, as thought it were totally my fault that I felt this way, etc… I was the chair of hospitality at a church for over 5 years in Baltimore City, and shared some of my experiences with using different segments of the congregation as “greeters”… I also have been extrememely frustrated by my inability to transfer my “Certified Lay Minister” credentials from one state to another… I served in Baltimore for almost 5 years and have been going through bureaucratic BS for over a year to meet PA requriements..

    I am 73 years old and am NOT going to go back and repeat any of my seminary work or my classes and other classwork at this age. I joined a very small little church locally, because I feel I NEED to go to church. I need that spiritual nourishment and “fellowship” .

    I have offered to cover for this pastor if she needed to be away, do bible studies for her ( I previously did them for 2 churches) and offered other services…. She scheduled me to do a Bible Study, which after I had spent 3 weeks beginning preparation, she cancelled,,, I have not been allowed to preach any more, and my offer of doing Bible studies have been totally ignored.. I also have done special studies in Islamic studies, which were deeply appreciated by my previous pastor.. I will be doing a lecture entitled “Jesus in the Qur’an ” at a local college in the fall..

    If possible I would like to send you a copy of my “Did I visit your church today” article via postal service.. Would this be possible?

    I also feel people do not go to church for several other reasons , i.e. seeing the total hypocrisy between the hierarchy ,, what they preach and what they do, as well as feeling totally ignored and rejected when they try to become involved, being told ” oh no, we don;t do it THAT way”, and being unwilling to change anything ….

    I have, in the meantime, got ordained (yes on line), 15 years ago, and have set up my own ministry, ministering to motorcycle groups, campgrounds, and senior citizens and performing marriages when asked.. . .. Do not want this published, please.

    • Karen on August 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      I’m just reading this post and the comments… and my response to yours is: DO THE BIBLE STUDY! I’ve done a whole lot of Bible Studies that were by a small group, not from the same church. Put a note up somewhere and invite. Or personally invite 5 people. And maybe let them invite someone. Mixing is good. There is a whole lot of politics and red tape garbage in every area of life. Perhaps they just need to see you prove yourself. It might just be a whole new area for you to expand them to. Hey- meet in a parking lot with lawn chairs….

      • Elizabeth Kirk on August 14, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        Thanks Karen, I have been thinking about doing exactly that, but health problems have set me back a bit for the past several months.. Have been looking for a small place to use, and for starters may just do it in my home. I facilitated a Womens group for over 4 years at one church, we called WOFF,, Women of FAith and Fellowship, and had a rule that “what was said in the room, stayed in the room”… WE had a great group, and I would like to see about seeing up a similar group here. Thanks for the support . Peace/

  31. Sue k on July 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Ask yourself…. are my church services a performance or is it communal worship? Then like any good presenter speaker preacher leader take a look at the body language in your pews/seats. Are they singing along? Is it light enough to see one another in that communal worship atmosphere, or is it dark like a movie theater or concert hall where when folks are on the platform it’s hard to see the rest of the body in the church and have a time of worship TOGETHER. How do you know someone is new/seeking if you can’t discern them from the folks you sing next two week after week.

    With segregated worship, blended service here – contemporary service there – traditional service tonight, where is the intergenerational connection being fostered? Where can the mentoring Of young Saints and seekers like John with Timothy happen in a segmented, siloed church experience?

    Most important, like the gentleman with the long hair in his youth, do you welcome the broken and fallen? Do you preach the truth in love, and exhibit that to your fellow pew partners? Or like a bad high school drama, do you clump in your familiar cliques and let the unknown faces flow past you assuming the staff will make them feel welcome.

  32. Brian on July 18, 2017 at 8:15 am


    Thanks for your honesty on how you’re feeling about attending church. That carries the article. I 100% agree on your first reason for attending church, I tend to believe that the second reason (new people) is fading as well.

  33. Matt Jackson on July 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Good article. I recently heard a statement that “the new church attendance is engagement in the church and not necessarily the service”. Gone are the days of trying to entertain to draw a crowd. It doesn’t stick in the long run. I agree that while we sometimes can make our services too “seeker friendly or too member friendly”, truth is truth. Gods Word never returns void. If we are sincere people who truly love God and love our neighbors, the unchurched will know us by our love. Great and provoking thoughts in the article. Thank you.

  34. Amy Moore on July 18, 2017 at 6:25 am

    One of the major reasons people are leaving the Church is because of Church hurt. That is why I left. Changing Church hurt is not going to be accomplished by simply reaching the unchurched and making your services more teenage friendly. Those are just more superficial changes such as changing from pews to chairs in the sanctuary. What is needed is for Pastors to stop preaching the “what” of “loving your neighbor as you love yourself” and start teaching “how” to do it. The reason I was hurt in the Church and left the Church was because there was no sacrificial love in the Church and sacrificial love must start with the leadership. If leadership would care more about their people instead of their “ministries” or their buildings then you would start to see people coming back to the Church. As long as all you do is make superficial changes then the people will continue to leave.

  35. Dave on July 18, 2017 at 3:22 am

    If we were truly trying to reach the unchurched we wouldn’t make them stand for 15 minutes singing songs they don’t know to a God they don’t believe in. I wish we could get straight to the sermon – that’s what draws people to Christ.

    • Kathleen on July 18, 2017 at 6:59 am

      I came to Christ more through the music than the sermons at first. Everyone connects with music, and for me it told the promise of Christ in a way I could picture, with a tune that got stuck in my heart, and that was powerful.

  36. Raymond Hays on July 17, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I am 67 yeas of age I gave my life over to the Lord in 1972, Being in my 20’s it was difficult to attend a church because most of the main line churches and some of the evangelical ones too, refused to allow us with long hair and beards, into the building. My first experience in fellowship with other Christians was a place called the “Barn” yes that is what it was a real farmers barn and we shared our services with the animals sitting on bales of hay. Soon after my rebirth I was recalled into the USCG I never attended just one church but many, being invited by other guys there. In 1975 I was transferred to Seattle WA. I felt I had to find a permanent home church, but where? the first week in Seattle I was driving around looking and pulled into a church parking lot where I met the “Youth Pastor” we spoke for about 5 minutes and he looked at me and said “As much as I’d love to invite you to stay and become part of our congregation I feel God telling me there is a church down the road about a mile away. he directed me and when I got there I was greeted by a senior member of the church he welcomed me as if I was someone special. Introducing me to the Pastor then the youth pastor and knew I was at home. Here I met my first wife, in 1982 we were transferred to St Louis MO and we found another church home. retiring in 88 moved back to Seattle area and our church home. What kept us in the church was the truth was taught, worship services were deep into the heart of God, one just knew he was present everyday of our lives. then the pastor retired and a new younger pastor took over and the services began to change he seemed to preach the same sermons over ad over (we used to joke that today it must be sermon 35 … anyway a few of us just up and left found another church that was full of worship and praise with good theological teachings. then that church merged with another with a much younger group and things changed. sometimes when the senior pastor wasn’t preaching the younger pastor basically taught a feel good touchy service. My wife and I served in the Choir from the beginning (1975) once the newer younger group took over worship services it no longer felt like true worship we continued to attend eventually they removed the song books and Hymnals, so many of the great worship songs were no longer a part of the services more and more glitter and show than actual worship. sure it brought in the younger people but it wasn’t the same seemed as though the spirit was fading we held on until my wife’s passing, 2008. I just quit going with enthusiasm. eventually I moved back to my home state of Ohio to remarry, we attended her church for a few years the Pastor was a fantastic Teacher he was the first pastor I had who would teach through scriptures over a month of sermons never once repeating. Then a rift occurred between the him and the elders, they told him they didn’t want that kind of teaching. and he was discharged. My wife and I stopped going and found another church that is farther away and we both liked the Pastor and even though the worship services were a bit “Rock and Roll” we still sang a lot of the older songs and worship seemed to go longer than usual, You knew God was there. We eventually decided to not go for two reasons, the number one was financial, could not afford the gas to go back and forth. the second reason was after a year and a half of attending the Church the only person other than the Pastor and his wife was two other couples, and my wife began to feel she was not wanted by the other ladies, Oh they would begin a conversation with her and when she tried to respond they would move on to someone else, no matte how much we tried to get to know some of them it was as if we were being looked down upon. ( we are retired and living on a fixed income ) most of the body were well to do lawyers and DRS and business folk. Maybe it was us but we no longer felt welcome. It has been well over a year since we left and only one couple reached out to us once. We are still looking for someplace to actually be a part of the service, but nothing close to us. Since we are low income we don’t have the means to do travel distances. SO we do our worshiping at home with good teaching and many different pastors. Our favorite is John Hagee. then there are many others we follow all week long. We admit it isn’t the same as being part of a “Church Body” but it keeps us grounded in our faith.
    I still miss the old time worship songs that had great meaning in my life.

    • Eric Cummer on July 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      You obviously love the Lord. Thankfully, No one can take that away from you.

  37. Jaimie on July 17, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great article. I am so thankful to have leadership that embraces this! They are at the conference you are speaking at this week, I hope they all get to hear you!!

  38. Bill B on July 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    A number of the links you referenced are not working, Carey. Really appreciate your thoughts on this topic!!

  39. Dan McGowan on July 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I have served in church leadership for decades and have seen so many ups and downs. It is far too easy for leaders in churches to get caught up in “how do we make people happy” – and I believe this is because, deep down, we realize that the less people who attend could mean a smaller budget (ie: salaries). That said, I am all about being bold for the kingdom and doing what the Holy Spirit calls/commands us to do. It’s not about checking off a box on a list of “to-do” items… it’s about loving one another in ways we possibly never imagined previously. Thanks for the post!

  40. George Reynolds on July 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    We’ve experienced the worst summer slump in recent history! I really believe that a good economy has freed people to go away more than in the past years.

  41. Rich Woods on July 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve recently been convicted about my own Consumer attitude, even though I’ve been very engaged for a long time. Thanks for the post.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Rich…thanks for your honesty. Glad this helped!

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