As a pastor of a new, small, local church, one of the most frustrating questions I have to ask myself is, why don't people attend church these days? Often it seems like every known "trick in the book" isn't enough to entice people to make a 10:00 a.m. Sunday commitment. A year ago, our group bought a large block of very well produced, relevant radio ads on two local secular stations. The results were dismal! I think we saw one visitor!
I believe that the answer to my nagging question may be in 2 or 3 parts. The first part is the times we are living in. In May I turned 69. I can recall as a child growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Sundays were known as "Church Day." Certainly not everyone attended church, my own father didn't (latter he did, faithfully!). However, there was no such thing as going to the store for a loaf of bread on Sunday as the stores, all stores were closed for the day. Even most gas stations were closed on Sundays. In those days the local school boards would communicate with the local churches to make sure that school events would not conflict with church events. My how times have changed!
Today, due to both parents working, sometimes 6 days per week, taking time to attend a Sunday morning worship service just doesn't fit in with the schedule! Have you ever noted that no matter how bad the economy is, restaurants are always busy every evening? Why? Because when Mom and Dad get out of work they are just too worn out to cook a meal, so no matter what it costs, eating out is the norm, sometimes for most nights of the week!
Secondly, many people do not attend church because they have had bad experiences in the church. I know that here in Citrus County, Florida, I have really made it a point to seek after what I call, "Unchurched Christians." These are people who have a love for God but some how have been hurt or tainted in bad church experiences. They feel that church attendance is no longer relevant, especially for their busy lives. I tell these people that, "our church is different!" However, they very often never believe me as they have had others tell them that same line and later found out that they were being invited to more church as usual.
Thirdly, Sunday morning has become a play time. Due to their busyness people today view Sunday morning as the only time they get to sleep in, play a round of golf, go hunting or fishing, so church attendance just no longer fits their busy schedules!
Maybe you fit into one or more of these descriptions of why people no longer attend church. Actually you might have other ideas on the subject, and I sure would be interested in your comments. Please share them below! However, to me, stating this not as Pastor Larry, but as Larry, a guy who loves God, church attendance if very fulfilling, at least our church is. For instance, last night, Wednesday night, a very small group of us showed up at 7:00 p.m. We usually have a short meeting on Wednesdays, and last night was very short, less than an hour. We didn't do a lot! We didn't pray down heaven! We didn't worship for a long time! Instead one of our guys got up and shared his heart for about 30 minutes. Then another guy shared his heart for another 10 minutes. When it was time to leave, I felt like a million dollars! It's amazing what takes place within me as I meet with my Brothers and Sisters of the faith! Was it worth attending that service last night? You got that right! I came home a better man for my effort!
Well, I have asked a question and maybe shared some opinionated answers to my own question. You may or may not fit into my answers, and I know what I have written probably will not convince you to visit my church Sunday morning. However, I do hope I have managed to get you to think a bit about this. Listen, one more very important thing here, I am not asking you to attend a very religious, law breathing church! Please stay home from that and worship the Lord in your own way. But if there is a church ministering the true grace of God near you I might suggest that making a commitment to be there Sunday morning just may benefit you more than sleeping in will. I have also discovered that the fish do still bite Sunday evenings as well as Sunday mornings! Just something to think about here!
Grace and peace!