Why Aren’t More People Going To Church?

It’s the question that plagues everyone from the senior pastor to the door greeters. Why are their numbers dwindling? Are more people turning away from God, or is it just a matter of bad publicity and questionable parking? Here are seven of the most common mistakes made by modern churches.

1: They Don’t Incentivize

In a world filled with cashback services and loyalty programs, it’s hard to find any consumer who will do something for nothing. While pastors and priests insist that eternal salvation should be its own reward, sometimes that just isn’t as attractive as low-rate APRs.

2: They Don’t Appreciate Newcomers

No church will admit this, of course, because they want to be seen as loving, welcoming communities. But they can often be quite standoffish to those haven’t proven themselves yet. When a group of people worship together every week for years and years, they see interlopers as just that, not potential new friends.

3: They’re Out of Touch

Headlined by aging pastors, many churches have failed to catch up with the 21st century. They don’t contribute to blogs, newsletters or viral video trends; they don’t drum up interest for their services on social media. While some pastors, like Ed Young Jr, have attempted to bridge the gap with YouTube channels and Pinterest pages, the grand majority of the congregation still has a long way to go.

4: They Judge

No one is a perfect Christian, but it can be hard to remember that when someone walks into a new church with lots of emotional baggage. Fear of being shamed for their sins keeps them safely at home, away from the spotlight, because their churches haven’t done enough to emphasis that everyone has a place in God’s kingdom.

5: They Don’t Make Their Standards Known

The church says “come as you are,” but when someone shows up in jeans while everyone else is dressed to the nines, they’re much less likely to go back next week. Likewise, if they’re expecting a quiet service only to have everyone around them stand up and sing at the thirty minute mark, they immediately link the church with humiliation and panic in their mind. That’s a hard impression to overcome even later.

6: They Don’t Encourage Diversity

Visitors of different races or sexualities can feel quite isolated when they walk into church and see no one who looks or acts like them. A growing number of women have also expressed discontent that no high-level female leaders are available for counseling gender-specific problems. When churches fail to adapt to the melting pot that is modern America, their numbers suffer substantially.

7: Their Programs Are Confusing

Where should my children go for Sunday school? How are the age groups divided? Do they need to be registered or given name tags? What about the adult services? Am I allowed to join at any time? What’s all this about a potluck? These are just some of the questions that can stump even long-term visitors when a church doesn’t have clear, written guides about their various programs and services.

There are more reasons why churches are dwindling in number, but these are the big seven. If houses of worship want to stay relevant in 2014, their shepherds need to start overhauling the system and figuring out new ways to attract a flock.

14 thoughts on “Why Aren’t More People Going To Church?

  1. Terri | Sugar Free Glow

    Great post! We found that our numbers were dwindling because our youth program wasn’t as flashy as some of the other big churches. We built a larger building and are really making an effort to connect with the families and kids every single week and that’s helped us.

  2. Petro Neagu

    You are so right. Churches don’t know how to keep up with the modern world. I thought that’s only valid for orthodox but I see it’s a worldwide thing.

  3. Scott

    You forgot the biggest reason – the pews are uncomfortable! If they put cushions on them I guarantee more would go – no one wants to sit on a hard seat/hard backed bench for an hour…

  4. Lisa Jones`

    It’s A Shame Isn’t It… I Go My Girls Attend Bible Study I STILL Believe & Always Will. I Believe In God & Have Faith Others Will Too!!

  5. Emily

    You’re very right! I go to church regularly and these are some of the most common things we’ve discussed and are trying to combat in order to bring more people in.

  6. Samantha

    I think the word is always relevant, it’s the delivery that fails. You should check out our church, Flatirons community church they steam sermons but we are rocking a steady 15000+ strong a weekend

  7. Rosey

    There are so many reasons I DO like going to church that they’re hard to name. BUT, there was a time that wasn’t true and some of the reasons I had back then fit nicely into the categories you’ve stated here.

  8. Zulema A Tomlinson

    WOW! Great Post. I am not a christian, but was raised a catholic. I had to go to church at least 3 times a week usually 2 of the times was for a funeral because I lived with my grandma and she had some old friends lol. But aside from that I am now a nature worshiper! My church is being outside in the grass, the trees, the beach, rivers anywhere in Nature. My creator is Mother Earth!

  9. Joanna Sormunen

    It is sad how hard it is to go to the church for some people. And also sad how hard it is to find a new church if you need to change churches for some reason, like moving away. Church is like a home, and you need to feel welcome to want to stay. I think it is so important we pray for the churches to reflect God’s love to everyone.

  10. Jhady

    I am glad and blessed that I have an awesome church family. I am growing in the knowledge of Christ and felt the love of Christ in there. There is no perfect church because we are all bunch of sinful people in need of a Savior, but I will never use it as an excuse not to go to church anymore.

  11. Ashley M

    I think you made some very valid points, all things I can say as easily putting someone off from going to church.

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