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