The Barna group recently released some new findings including how people answered this question: Why do you go to church?
When asked if they attended church that week, only four in ten Americans answered yes.
Americans not attending any type of church function at all in the last six months continue to increase especially among the Millennials.
“Overall church attendance has dipped from 43% in 2004 to 36% today. But beyond a dip in attendance numbers, the nature of churchgoing is changing. Regular attenders used to be people who went to church three or more weekends each month—or even several times a week. Now people who show up once every four to six weeks consider themselves regular churchgoers.”
I thought the reasons why people attend church were fascinating. To be closer to God was the answer for 43% with 38% saying they needed to learn more about God.
Sadly the group also discovered that growing closer to God rarely happens.
- “Fewer than two out of 10 churchgoers feel close to God on even a monthly basis.
- Additionally, while almost two-thirds of those who value church attendance go to learn more about God, fewer than one in 10 (6%) who have ever been to church say they learned something about God or Jesus the last time they attended.
- In fact, the majority of people (61%) say they did not gain any significant or new insights regarding faith when they last attended.”
I don’t know how the rest of you react to these findings but my response was prayer. I don’t know the answers, but God sure does and if we listen, we can still help others draw closer to God and learn more about him.
To love God and help others know His love.
To know God and to make Him known.
We can’t keep our heads in the sand, ignoring these facts. We can’t say – if we build it, they will come. They won’t and they aren’t coming.
A good friend reflected to me the other day that it is like we are fishing in the aquarium. We need to expand our scope, our ways of worship. We need to set sail out of the harbor where we are just waiting for the fish to come to us and go out into the deep and be with them.
All this stirs my soul and spins conversation with the Lord. I am not sure my next step but I am listening, I am thinking, I am reading more and I am wondering possibilities.
Why do I go to church? Yes to get closer to God and to learn more about him. But the main reason I go to church is to worship this mysterious Divinity that loves me unconditionally and gave me life. I go to church to thank her, to praise him and to just to be with them.
Why do you go to church?
Lyli Dunbar says
Jean, my pastor shared his thoughts on this subject a while back in a short VLOG. Your post reminded me about it, and I was able to find it for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2OLXnSmGvs
Jean Wise says
Lyli your pastor is so neat. loved the video and what a cool way to get short messages out to others. love his passion and love for Christ. You are blessed to have him. Thanks for sharing
Hi Jean! I guess this is not huge news to me. All I have to do is look around my church on Sunday mornings and see how many of the pews aren’t filled. Seems like when my kids were younger, the church was packed.
I go to church because that is my community. That is an important place of bonding with the Body of Christ. I think it’s so important to not isolate myself. We were born for God and for each other. How can I reject my sisters and brothers and not pray with them? I wrote about it this way. My own prayer is a ‘solo.’ My prayer in community is ‘harmony.’ And God loves both of these songs. I want him to be happy!
Blessings in prayer,
Jean Wise says
Love how you value community. If I remember right, Nouwen identified community as one of the foundation our of spirituality. love how you see community as harmony. wonderful image. Blessings on your weekend.
I know this issue is important. Most Healthy Spirituality readers are probably members of a congregation. Most Christians get started in their relationship with God at a church or a church lead event. I consider this an issue of ecclesiology or evangelism, which are both important.
I have been well fed so often by Jean’s contemplations and insights, and I consider HS a resource for spiritual growth. I’m not ready for a new source of ecclesiastical frustration.
I go to a church primarily to worship God in a group seting with live music and teaching, to share my faith in study and discussion with others not too far from my path, and to fellowship, sharing care, love and news with those who have become, for me, an extended family.
Congregations need to be listening and looking for the Spirit for direction and actively loving new people who come by. We need to be healthy families with real comunication.
My experience is that visitors and occasional event guests who come with an open heart and mind will find God’s presence, feel the Spirit’s Power an know Christ’s love. Not many come ready.
So we need to get out of the ediface into God’s world and share the love of God in Christ actively, sharing than evangelistic remarks. We need to love our neighbors as ourselves if we hope they will come to love the Lord, our God.
We can do that. Do we?
Eric from Puyallup
Jean Wise says
Thank you for your kind words, Eric. We do need to get out into God’s World you are so right. One reason why I love Dorothy Day – she went out to the poor, not waiting for them to come to her.