4 Reasons the Majority Stay Away from Church

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NobodychurchMost people don’t want to go to church. But why? And what might interest them in joining a community of faith?

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Those questions have sent us across the country looking for answers. After years of research and countless interviews, my wife Joani and I have finally collected our findings. They’re in a new book titled, no surprise, Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, with a subtitle of “And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible.”

We found four recurring themes why the majority avoids church. Here’s a sneak preview from the book:

1. “I feel judged.” Gabe Lyons’ and David Kinnaman’s research in their book UnChristianconfirms that “church people judge me.” According to their studies, 87 percent of Americans label Christians as judgmental. Fair or unfair, most people view the church as critical, disapproving, and condemning. Whether it’s behavior, looks, clothes, choice of friends, lifestyle decisions, or whatever, the church has a solid reputation for acting as judge
and jury over our individual differences.

2. “I don’t want to be lectured.” More than ever, people today want to participate in the discussion. One man told us he’s talked with more than a thousand other men who’ve given up on church. He said, ”Guys don’t want to sit in a room and idly listen to some preacher do all the talking. They want to ask questions. They want to share
their thoughts, too.” The same goes for women. They don’t want another one-way lecture.

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3. “Church people are a bunch of hypocrites.” This isn’t a small minority talking. A whopping 85 percent make this claim. We know, we know. Every church leader in America is weary of this “excuse.” But people aren’t
merely referring to incongruous behavior. What bothers them is the sense that church leaders act as if they alone have all the answers. As if they’ve arrived. As if they’re only interested in telling others what to do-”teaching,” to use ministry vernacular.

4. “Your God is irrelevant to my life. But I’d like to know there is a God and he cares about
me.”
 Research by the Barna Group reveals that only 44 percent of people who attend church every week say they regularly experience God at church. They’re not looking for the deep theological trivia that seems to interest a lot of preachers. They crave something rather simple. They want to be reassured that God is real, that he is more than a historical figure, that he is present today, and that he is active in the lives of people around them.

Whether we like it or not, this is what the population is saying about the church today.

Now, as God’s people, we can defensively bark back and shift the blame to all those heathens and backsliders who’ve abandoned the church. But that will do nothing but hasten the decline of the American church.

Or, we can explore ways to better be the church. That’s what led us to the “four acts of love” we describe in the
book. I’ll preview those in coming blog posts.

In the meantime, I’d love to see your comments. In fact, everyone who posts a comment here will be entered to win one of five free copies of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore. And you can make sure you’ll get a copy by placing a pre-publication order at  group.com.

When it comes to the plight of the church, one thing’s for sure. God has not given up on his church. He’s at work, urging his people forward. We simply need to get on board.

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About Author

Thom Schultz

Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

7 Comments

  1. Children's Ministry Magazine

    Whether or not we are any of the 4 things that you mention (which we surely can be, like it or not!), the Gospel is not about us,it is about those Jesus died for. The tension is how do we become like Paul who said, "I become all things to all men so that some might be saved." without watering down the core standards in the Scripture. I very much like that you bring us back to "4 acts of love." I find that when I become stressed about reaching people, it my heart motivation that often needs to be corrected back to loving like Jesus. Enjoy your blog a lot!

  2. Children's Ministry Magazine

    Whether or not we are any of the 4 things that you mention (which we surely can be, like it or not!), the Gospel is not about us,it is about those Jesus died for. The tension is how do we become like Paul who said, "I become all things to all men so that some might be saved." without watering down the core standards in the Scripture. I very much like that you bring us back to "4 acts of love." I find that when I become stressed about reaching people, it is my heart motivation that often needs to be corrected back to loving like Jesus. Enjoy your blog a lot!

  3. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Nicole Dabrowski on

    This book sounds interesting. Except Christmas and Easter our church members float around 15 to 30(we live in a country town of 5000). I think we would find this very helpful.

  4. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Nicole Dabrowski on

    This book sounds interesting. Except Christmas and Easter our church members float around 15 to 30(we live in a country town of 5000). I think we would find this very helpful.

  5. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Nicole Dabrowski on

    This book sounds interesting. Except Christmas and Easter our church members float around 15 to 30(we live in a country town of 5000). I think we would find this very helpful.

  6. Children's Ministry Magazine

    Very interesting. We live in a small town. About 500. Have several Churches. We average about 50. My husband is the pastor. We struggle. I think you could add one more. 5. They have already been. What do you have to offer that would help me? We do have Jesus, they rejected Him, they reject us. We need to give thematic reason. Love,love, love 'em!

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