Our Bible verse for today: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other; and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Your church needs you to be there.”
The other day a Pastor friend of mine shared an article on Facebook about church attendance. The title was, “10 Reasons even committed church attenders are attending church less often.”
Church attendance in the USA has been in decline for decades, and we’re slowly becoming like Europe. Once, Europe was a dynamic and thriving hub of vibrant Christianity that was impacting the world, but then the decline started. Today, most of the remaining churches in Europe are largely empty. For decades that same decline has been slowly happening in the USA as well. Christianity is thriving in many other places around the world, especially in China, Africa, and Latin America, and their churches are full, but not so much anymore in the USA. We’ve been headed in the way of Europe for a long time now, and we are continuing down that slippery slope.
What caught my attention about this article however, was that it is about the problem that even committed church members in the USA are much less faithful in church attendance than ever before. Not only is society as a whole less religious than in previous generations; and not only is it becoming increasingly difficult in the USA to reach people for Christ; but even committed church members are much less faithful than in the past. This makes the problem in our churches much worse than it would otherwise be if it was just the non-churched who weren’t showing up.
In previous generations the committed church member averaged 50 out of 52 Sundays a year in church. Today the average is much less than that. One estimate said that some members may attend only 26 out of 52 weeks a year but still consider themselves to be “committed”. This is a problem in almost all churches in the USA, regardless of size.
According to the research in this article, the number one reason committed church members in the USA attend so much less now than they used to, is affluence. When people have money, they have options. They can travel more, they can do more in terms of recreational activities, and, they feel they need God less. And please note, by “affluent” the author didn’t mean rich. He was simply referring to middle-class comfortable. In other words, we middle-class American Christians may be too well off for our own good.
The research also showed other reasons why committed church members in the USA are less faithful now than in the past. Those included things like youth sports on Sundays, family events taking priority over church, technology options such as church services on television and the internet, and much more.
All of this serves to weaken an already weakened American church. When even the committed members are much less committed than they used to be, you can be sure the decline will continue, and even accelerate. The longer you stay on a slippery slope the faster you go and the further you fall.
In the past, our churches have always taught that just showing up in church wasn’t really good enough – you needed to be actively involved as well. With a chuckle we even teasingly referred to those who just showed up but weren’t involved in ministry as “pew potatoes”. But we’re not laughing anymore. Today we’re happy if we can just get people to show up on a consistent basis.
Our theme this month is “Your Life Matters”, and we’ve been exploring ways in which each of us makes a meaningful difference in our world. As a committed church member one of the most helpful habits you can have is to be faithful in your church attendance.
We have to strengthen our churches. Our society needs strong churches badly. Your regular attendance is important. Of course, we want and need you to be actively involved too, but first, we just need you to be there.