Jump directly to the content

Why Many People Won't Go Back to Church This Sunday

(UPDATED) What research suggests about Sunday's massive outreach effort by 21,200 churches.
|


Update (Sept. 19): Nearly 21,500 churches participated in Sunday's Back to Church nationwide outreach. Some churches held special events, while others explained why a special event wasn't needed.

According to a press release, "Participating ...

Read More

Displaying 1–29 of 29 comments

kurien a. kodiattu

September 29, 2013  8:53am

Dear Friends in Christ.....(my 2 cents worth!) If a person, has a genuine conversion experience, and is walking with the Lord, then, he/she, will go to a FELLOWSHIP....I am not calling the gathering A CHURCH....The Bible exorts us, as to Not to refrain, in the assembling of believers... So, the first action...is OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD... Then, ofcourse, we come together for "corporate" WORSHIP....and then the "koinonia fellowship".... At the WORSHIP, Prayers are lifted up, In Praise & Worship, and for one another...including CONFESSION & for the SICK.....In fact most evangelical fellowships, do not even know, what the Nicene Creed or the Appostles Creed, or the differences are....(I would suggest that most Pastors too, do not know it, in the first place)...For most Pastors, they have a JOB, and NOT A CALLING....They play the game of "politics" and have PROGRAMMES, rather than worship services.... When we genuinely seek GOD, even the devil will flee from there.... Blessings

Report Abuse

Randall Laraway

September 27, 2013  6:25pm

My humble question is for all of us who're wondering about this issue of "church attendance." Why do we seem to concentrate on church attendance at all? Does not God call us to have an ongoing relationship with HIM via the Lord Jesus Christ? And where is there any personal accountability in our intimate relationship with the Lord if not between us disciples? Men should be accountable with men and the same for women with women. Otherwise how can we inspire, encourage and admonish one another to love God, love each other and to live accordingly? After all, is it not Jesus Himself Who commands us to love one another and by this, all people will know that we are HIS disciples [John 13:34-35]? Well?

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 23, 2013  6:16pm

@Jim Bartlett: "True Christians always agree in their inmost being on the essentials, but not always in their thinking." But that response begs a GIANT question: who / what authority decides what is "essential"? Back when I was a fundamentalist Baptist, the particular Baptist sect I belonged to considered baptism by total immersion "essential" ... also not allowing anyone not a member of that particular, local church to take communion at that local church when the local church took Communion ("closed communion"). Both were considered "essential". "The 'unknowing' of Buddhism, is that really satisfying to you?" Not a question of what is "satisfying", but of what is TRUE. My concern is truth, not satisfaction, and IMHO Buddhist skepticism about spiritual / religious matters is much more TRUE than Christian doctrinal systems that have ethics and the afterlife laid out like a map of the Santa Monica Freeway. The 41K denominations suggest that NO ONE knows & skepticism is justified.

Report Abuse

Jim Bartlett

September 21, 2013  4:42pm

@JamesCowles -- while I think this is a stupid article about nonissues for church attendance, I find these responses miss the point as well. Instead of being about interpretation/ reasoning/denominations, the core of faith is: Jesus claimed to be God come to earth. 41000 differences? True Christians always agree in their inmost being on the essentials, but not always in their thinking. The "unknowing" of Buddhism, is that really satisfying to you? If you only have "postmodern" beliefs about (not)knowing, only believing-- then I suggest to find the Truth, looking directly into Jesus' own life, teaching ,interactions with people and death. After all, Jesus was Pre-postmodern, Pre-Buddhist. The Reformation? Brought through Luther's examination of himself and the church of his time., a corrective from God's revelation. Not a license to spiritual self-decisions. Whatever studies the Pew or Barna say about non/belief, we can only seek and know God thru supernatural means, not our minds.

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 21, 2013  7:53am

@Hal Sanders: "Mr. Cowles: You say you attend a Buddhist temple. If so, why do you even visit this site, unless it is to rant and argue?" To keep from living in an echo chamber where all I ever hear are opinions that agree with mine, sorta-kinda like the conservative evangelical Christian subculture. Think of me as Socrates in Athens, minus the hemlock -- so far.

Report Abuse

Hal SANDERS

September 20, 2013  5:40pm

Mr. Cowles: You say you attend a Buddhist temple. If so, why do you even visit this site, unless it is to rant and argue? However, I am glad you do and hope that you are open to letting God reveal Himself to you.

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 19, 2013  11:42pm

@Audrey Ruth: "Again, I have not posted my interpretation of scriptures - I have posted what is written in God's Word." No ... you have posted YOUR INTERPRETATION of God's word. Other people have their interpretations. The Pew Foundation estimates that there are approx 41,000 Christian denominations, each with its own interpretation of the Bible. That's 41,000 different interpretations of the Bible. You are welcome to yours. But yours is only one needle in the exegetical haystack.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

September 19, 2013  9:24pm

I can echo the truth of Paul's statement: "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until that day." Again, I have not posted my interpretation of scriptures - I have posted what is written in God's Word. You can continue to argue about that, but it is true. I realize you have chosen to reject God's Word. Did you do so because of Oral Roberts? Anyone who rejects God's Word and God's Spirit can find a million reasons (in reality, excuses) to do so - the enemy of all men's souls will make sure of that. But that doesn't mean that God's Word is not true, or that Jesus did not pay the price for our sin to be forgiven that we might have eternal life, or that the Holy Spirit is not the Spirit of Truth who indwells and ministers to His children. Indeed, this proves just the opposite, for Jesus prophesied the great majority would choose the broad way which leads to death and destruction.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

September 19, 2013  8:36pm

Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice, and a stranger they will not follow." HE IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE.

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 19, 2013  8:20pm

@Audrey Ruth: "Again, James, my posts have been about what the Word of God actually teaches." But, of course, a Christian who disagrees with you, who interprets the Bible differently, would arrive at a different version of "what the Word of God actually teaches". This is the story of the Protestant Reformation. You mistake what the Bible teaches YOU with what the Bible teaches PERIOD. Otherwise, how do you account for people who disagree. You think you are right. They think they are right. My strong suspicion is that ... really ... at the end of the day NOBODY KNOWS. Everybody believes. But nobody KNOWS.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

September 19, 2013  8:17pm

Again, James, my posts have been about what the Word of God actually teaches. I did not mention Oral Roberts because my posts were not about him; indeed, he was only one preacher, and he died several years ago, so I did not find that relevant. I did not 'interpret' the Word of God; I related the teachings as they are written. Some churches do ignore the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I grew up in such a church. There was much teaching about the Father and the Son, but that was it. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to indwell and empower His children to carry out His will for their lives, and this is His norm for the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, so many churches have departed from this important truth (some seem to have never read of it, let alone experienced it), that God's children are often robbed of this precious inheritance. He is not glorified in this, His children suffer as a result, and needed ministry goes undone which affects those who don't have to be lost.

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 19, 2013  7:51pm

@Audrey Ruth: "It was about what God's Word actually teaches." It would be more accurate to say that your post was about what YOUR INTERPRETATION of God's word actually teaches. There are those who disagree, e.g., today's "prosperity gospel" preachers. Also, and as I said earlier, Oral Roberts used to say "Something GOOD is going to happen to YOU today!" This is what I meant by relentless optimism and merciless cheerfulness. It originates in THEIR interpretation of the Bible, just as your remarks originate in YOUR interpretation. No way to find out who is right. No way to find out whose interpretation is correct. Other than, I suppose, looking in the Bible, but then one's reasoning becomes circular. One more reason I prefer Buddhism.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

September 19, 2013  7:06pm

James, my post was not about *my* experience. It was about what God's Word actually teaches. Jesus prophesied all the things which have come to pass throughout the years since He was here, and the apostles' letters echoed His prophesies in further detail. Yes, there are apostate churches, pastors, and former believers. Jesus said this would be so, so there is no reason why this should take anyone by surprise. The Lord said He would always have a faithful remnant who would not bow the knee to Baal or any other false god, and this is equally true. There are still faithful churches, pastors, and believers - because He is Faithful and True. Glory to His Name!!!

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 19, 2013  5:54pm

@Audrey Ruth ... I'm glad that has been your experience. All I can say is that it has not been mine.

Report Abuse

audrey ruth

September 19, 2013  5:52pm

James, any pastor whose preaching is true to the Word of God is and isn't "relentlessly optimistic." He preaches the whole counsel of God's Word. Jesus said that His children would be treated as He was treated. The world didn't love Him and the world doesn't love those who are His. Those who are His WILL suffer persecution. This is a given. At the same time, a Bible-preaching pastor IS relentlessly optimistic in that he knows this world is not all there is - indeed, this life is very brief compared to eternity. What the Lord prepares for His children in Heaven far, far, FAR surpasses anything this world could ever hope to offer. But even here in this life, the Lord is WITH US. He is Emmanuel - GOD WITH US. For this reason His children have constant access to His peace which surpasses all understanding and His joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. Eternal life begins when a believer becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus (John 10:10). Hallelujah!!!

Report Abuse

James Cowles

September 18, 2013  8:54am

Churches, especially conservative evangelical Protestant churches, tend to be militantly and relentlessly optimistic, and attempt, in ways both subtle & overt, to ENFORCE / INFLICT that optimism on others. You MUST be cheerful. You MUST be upbeat. You MUST expect, as Oral Roberts used to say, that "Something GOOD is going to happen to YOU!!!" A mature & sober sense of tragedy is seen as not only un- / sub-Christian, but as an outright work of Satan. For all these reasons, I much prefer attending a local Buddhist temple, where I will be told in quietly matter-of-fact terms that: (1) life is contingent, (2) suffering can be dealt with but is permanent, and (3) points (1) & (2) are about all we can be sure of in life. Less glitzy. Less "sexy". But *** MUCH *** more real. Christianity promises a 2013 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow & delivers a 72 Yugo. Buddhism promises a 2008 Honda Accord that runs well but needs a good wash & wax ... and then delivers it.

Report Abuse

Crab Grass

September 17, 2013  6:19pm

@ nancy wood, I'm a Ms, not a Mr. But yes, a lot of Christians use "pic, up your cross" in a legalistic sort of way.

Report Abuse

NORMAN STOLPE

September 16, 2013  5:09pm

May it not be that our society is becoming more like what the Church faced in the Roman world before Constantine hijacked a distorted Christianity as the religion of the Empire? Do we not have to learn to sing the Lord's song in a foreign land (Psalm 137)? While I do care about the country in which I live, I am far more concerned with and attached to the Church and its pointing to the Kingdom of God than I am to what may or may not become of the United States. While its shape will certainly change, I am convinced God will keep the Church going, as has happened for two millennia. As with all human institutions, the United States is temporary. It had a beginning and will have an end either in history or at the fullness of the Kingdom. To presume otherwise if tantamount to idolatry. Let's grow up and be disciples of Jesus who don't lean on the crutch of generic, Judeo-Christian civil religion.

Report Abuse

NANCY WOOD

September 16, 2013  4:20pm

I think perhaps Mr. Grass may have misinterpreted Mr. Ohmdahl's pithy call to pick up our crosses. The cross of Jesus was not a works mentality for Him, nor is it for us. It is an answer to His call to have our wills crucified with Him. I have found it to be anything but a works mentality. I found my answer to His crucifixion call to be misunderstood as disobedience.

Report Abuse

Crab Grass

September 16, 2013  3:04pm

@ LLOYD OMDAHL. So, you're saying Christians should be living a more works-based, performance based life, and if they did this, they'd be all fired up to attend a brick building with a steeple once a week? But Jesus said his yoke is easy and that he came to remove burdens from his followers, not add to them. If you're pushing for a performance-based Christian lifestyle, no thank you. That is yet another reason I am turned off to Christianity these days and stopped going to church, along with many other reasons (I was a Christian for many, many years), these accusations by other believers that you're not doing enough for God, or not sacrificing enough, or not doing "thus and so" enough or not doing it right. @Michael Goodfellow. My experiences with churches and Christian culture have been the same-they don't care a whit about un married people who are past 30 years old. They are sure consumed with why the 20 something singles are walking away though, which adds salt to the wound

Report Abuse

Crab Grass

September 16, 2013  2:57pm

Did I already comment on this article? I think I did, I don't remember. Some reasons I no longer attend: seeker friendly churches that offer Gospel-lite sermons or shallow preaching, churches that are fixated on kids and 20 somethings; churches that ignore or mistreat never married, childless adults over the age of 30; churches that try to be hip, edgy and trendy by having electric guitars, laser shows, and the preacher has a "soul patch" and wears skinny jeans - they try to hard to be cool and relevant they look un-hip and clownish. Churches are more about entertainment than they are providing community, helping Christians in need, and teaching Jesus. By the way, lots of Christians over the age of 30 are dropping out of church, but these Christian papers almost always fixate on the college aged crowd, which is ageist. Also, there is a lot of child and spiritual abuse in churches that gets covered up, and churches are getting too authoritarian. The pastor is viewed as boss or CEO.

Report Abuse

LLOYD OMDAHL

September 16, 2013  1:33pm

Many Christians have responded to an altar call but few have picked up their crosses,

Report Abuse

Thomas Foster

September 16, 2013  11:02am

Only God knows for sure why the church seems to be slowly failing. In my experience, the church my wife and I found is exactly what we expected from a church-a congregation that will speak the truth in love and present all of the Gospel. This means that we do not hear only what we want to hear, but we are also challenged in our faith and rebuked when needed. A lot of people may not want to hear what the Gospel is all about. For them, to know that it is okay to not live the way Jesus demanded is what they want to really hear. In that way, maybe the church is right on track and the best evidence of this is dropping attendance. I know churches need to make money and that the pastors need to feed their families, I am not against this. I am only saying that if the church does not follow the way of the world, then that would mean that it is doing the right thing and not getting along with those who are of the world.

Report Abuse

William Halverson

September 16, 2013  4:07am

It is interesting to note that it is the power of the Holy Spirit which drew the crowds to Jesus when he ministered. The crowds came to be healed of sickness, have demons cast out, and hear His authoritative explanations of the scripture. Christians have come to trust more in man's medicines, and have lost sight of the Spiritual things. John 16:13 However,when He,the Spirit of truth,has come,He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority,but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Psalm 51:11 Do not put me away from before you, or take your holy spirit from me. 2Ch 16:9 For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro in all the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him.

Report Abuse

Jim Nelson

September 15, 2013  5:15am

Real authentic Christians are sinners. We should not expect anything else, Jesus taught us to ask forgiveness and forgive for that very reason, If we fail in this, we have failed, We should not go to church and pretend to be well and go home and criticize our spouses. We should be the same on Sunday as Monday. So we need to know how to forgive and ask forgiveness in all circumstances. People often come to church because their life has become unmanageable, and they see they need God. They are poor and seek God. People who are emotionally strong and financially secure might think they do not need God. Christians will not be the best people, but should know best to apologize and confront in love. First generation Christians know the darkness and that helps them feel grateful for light. Their lives are messy, but they are committed and share their faith. Second generation Christians know what they are saved from less and third generation less than all. Real is hard for each on Sunday

Report Abuse

Michael Goodfellow

September 14, 2013  7:00pm

I agree with CrabGrass. In my church, I think I am the ONLY single person in my age bracket (30-50). The rest are married. My church offers programs galore for the older folks, the younger folks, the mothers, the men, the women, the couples, but precisely nothing for single people. It appears my generation was somehow skipped.

Report Abuse

Deborah Boschman

September 14, 2013  2:49pm

I attended a Pentecostal church here in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. I wrote a Letter to the Editor in which I expressed my personal opinion. I was asked about a week later to find another church to worship. The Pastor was FRIENDS with the Mayor and both belonged to the Conservative Party of Brandon. The Pastor got to pray at City Hall and this church sponsored a Mayor's Prayer Breakfast which was held every year. The President of the Brandon Teacher's Association was from this church. Rumors, gossip, slander, defamation against myself was/is rampant throughout this church against myself. Not ONCE did the Pastor ever ask to meet with me to discuss any of this and find out the TRUTH or my side of the story. A member of this same church stole my 9 yr. old daughter's puppy out of our yard and gave it to my neighbor. They wrote defaming and untrue things about me on the internet. I have been through HELL on earth because of untrue lies from these church members and their Pastor.

Report Abuse

Crab Grass

September 13, 2013  7:49pm

Singles over the ages of 30, 40, and 50 and older tend to stop attending church because most churches either ignore singles or treat them like losers, freaks, or immature dweebs if they do notice them, or they display their negative stereotypes at some point - (such as but not limited to: that married people are supposedly more godly, mature, or responsible than the unmarried). We're getting closer to half the adult population in the United States being un-married (about 45%), but churches keep acting like the number of singles in society is very low. A lot of us are not married, nor do we have children, and we are sick and tired of the continual sermons about marriage, parenting, and the nuclear family. Also, churches and Christians in general spend too much time worrying about and catering to 20-somethings, which is ageist. They need to show equal concern for adults over the age of 30 and older, because a lot of those adults are leaving church in large numbers.

Report Abuse

Deborah Boschman

September 13, 2013  7:36pm

Perhaps what REALLY needs to occur first is for the church to CLEAN UP their own act from within! People nowadays are looking for the "real deal, authentic, genuine" Christians and Christian churches. Everyone has HAD IT with counterfeit everything. Get Pastors to start addressing the GOSSIP that exists within some of these churches, the social clubs, etc. When the church doesn't look too much different from the world, then there is a problem. We need some REAL leaders as Pastors, NOT politically correct wimps! Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. Call for city wide repentance services for wrongs which have been committed. Ask Christians to REALLY start behaving like the Christians in the Book of Acts. The Lord's Prayer says, "Thy Will be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven." Let's start getting real and speaking about the REAL issues affecting many Christians, which aren't too different from those being experienced by the world. Walk the talk. Demonstrate Chtnty. via your genuine actions.

Report Abuse