It’s a common concern among pastors and church leaders: Regular attendance. Why is there such a struggle for people to consistently attend and maintain meaningful involvement in their local church?
It goes deeper than a person simply not caring about church. There is more to it, and as pastors are looking for ways to engage people in their church, we want to help where we can. As a start, we have identified 7 common reasons that people may have for not regularly attending church.1. They are busy.
Life has become increasingly fast-paced and demanding for many, leaving people with limited time for what they feel are optional activities, including attending church. Juggling work, family, and social commitments can leave people feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Consequently, church attendance may take a backseat.
2. They would rather watch online.
When the Covid-19 pandemic started, there was a strong need for churches to adapt and make church services available in whatever way possible. This led to an increase in online service availability. Online services hold great value for those who are ill, bed-ridden, in hospitals, etc., but for some, the increased availability to watch online may have also contributed to a decreased commitment to attend in-person.
Cultural and societal shifts that have taken place in recent decades may also contribute to the decline in regular church attendance. Changing family structures, urbanization, globalization, and increased mobility have reshaped communities and in some cases, weakened traditional ties to local churches. Additionally, a greater emphasis on personal autonomy and individualism may have also led to a decline in church attendance.4. Their values differ from their parents and grandparents.
This goes hand-in-hand with reason #3. The values of older generations may not be the same for younger generations. Post-pandemic, this was made especially clear.
“Young adults (ages 18–29) reported the greatest change in religious attendance following the pandemic. Forty-two percent registered different levels of church attendance than they had previously.”
—David Roach, Church Attendance Dropped Among Young People, Singles, Liberals
For some, the anxiety of walking into a small-group or striking up a conversation with someone for the first time can hinder connection. For others, it may be that they are busy (see reason #1) and have not taken the time to get plugged in with a group or smaller sub-community of the church. This lack of connection makes it easier to be an irregular attendee.6. They don’t know God’s design for the church.
Some people have not been discipled in the importance of community as it relates to God’s design for the church. Sure, they know the general concept of going to church, but they may not know that the Church was established by Jesus, or that it really matters to God that they are plugged into a local body of believers on a regular basis.7. They have not experienced the benefits of being part of the local church.
Maybe they have been a back-row observer or show up when it is convenient, but they haven’t experienced the fullness of faith that accompanies true Biblical community. The shift from attendance out of obligation to attendance out of desire happens within the context of authentic community. This is where deep encouragement, meaningful discussions, spiritual growth, and lasting friendships can be found.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are many other reasons that contribute to irregular church attendance. What are some other reasons you have heard or observed? What creative ways are you encouraging connection, priority, and discipleship in this area?
Check out these booklets that can be used as a tool, in partnership with your church. Give them out at a new members class, in your welcome packet, or even alongside a teaching series. Get creative as you facilitate connection and community within your church!
Praying that God blesses your church with authentic community, spiritual growth, and faithful friendships.