Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore (2022)

That's the title of a new book written by Joani Schultz and Thom Schultz. And it's a question those leaving are more than ready to answer. The problem is, few insiders are listening.

And, of course, that IS the problem.

In a recent issue of Christianity Today, for example, Ed Stetzer wrote an article entitled, "The State of the Church in America: Hint: It's Not Dying." He states: "The church is not dying... yes... in a transition... but transitioning is not the same as dying."

Really? What cartoons have you been watching?

Clearly, the Church is dying. Do your research, Mr. Stetzer. According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of Americans "say" they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends.

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Furthermore, somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year. Southern Baptist researcher, Thom Rainer, in a recent article entitled "13 Issues for Churches in 2013" puts the estimate higher. He says between 8,000 and 10,000 churches will likely close this year.

Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the "religiously unaffiliated."

Churches aren't dying?

No, of course not. Churches will always be here. But you can be sure, churches are going through more than a mere "transition." I study these things carefully. I counsel church leaders within every denomination in America, having crisscrossed this country for nearly two decades counseling congregations as small as two hundred in attendance to churches averaging nearly 20,000 in weekly attendance. As I see it, there are "7" changing trends impacting church-going in America. In this first of two articles, I'll address the "7" trends impacting church-going. In the second part, I'll offer several best practices that, as I see it, might reverse the trends contributing to the decline.

(Video) 'Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore' by Thom & Joani Schultz

Trends Impacting Church Decline:

1. The demographic remapping of America.

Whites are the majority today at 64 percent. In 30 to 40 years, they will be the minority. One in every three people you meet on the street in three to four decades will be of Hispanic origin. In other words, if you are not reaching Hispanics today, your church's shelf life is already in question.

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Furthermore, America is aging. Go into almost any traditional, mainline church in America, observe the attendees and you'll quickly see a disproportionate number of gray-headed folks in comparison to all the others. According to Pew Research, every day for the next 16 years, 10,000 new baby boomers will enter retirement. If you cannot see where this is headed, my friend, there is not much you can see.

2. Technology.

Technology is changing everything we do, including how we "do" church. Yet, there are scores of churches that are still operating in the age of the Industrial Revolution. Instead of embracing the technology and adapting their worship experiences to include the technology, scores of traditional churches, mainline Protestant, and almost all Catholic churches do not utilize the very instruments that, without which, few Millennials would know how to communicate or interact.

However, when I suggest to pastors and priests, as I frequently do, that they should use social media and, even in worship, they should, for example, right smack in the middle of a sermon, ask the youth and young adults to text their questions about the sermon's topic... that you'll retrieve them on your smartphone... and, before dismissing, answer the three best questions about today's sermon, most of the ministers look at me as if I've lost my mind. What they should be more concerned about is why the Millennials have little or no interest in what they have to say.

3. Leadership Crisis

(Video) September 2, 2018 Sermon: Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore (and What We Can Do About It)

Enough has been written about this in the past. But you can be sure, clergy abuse, the cover-up by the Church, and fundamentalist preachers and congregations have been driving people away from the Church, and continue to drive people away, faster than any other causes combined.

4. Competition

People have more choices on weekends than simply going to church. Further, the feelings of shame and guilt many people used to feel and church leaders used to promote for not attending church every week is gone.

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There are still those, however, who want to categorize Christians as an explanation for the church's decline in attendance in a futile effort to make things not look so bad. But this, too, is the illusion that many church leaders and denominational executives are perpetrating but nobody is paying attention. They are just too blind to see that.

For example, in the very same article I referenced above, Ed Stetzer has concocted three different categories of Christians he conveniently thinks explains the dire situation faced by the church.

He says there is a kind of "classification" system between those who "profess Christianity" as their faith choice.

  • First, he says there are cultural Christians or those who "believe" themselves to be Christians simply because their culture says they are. But, clearly, he implies they are not.
  • Second, he classifies a group of congregational Christians which he says are not much better off than the first misguided group, except that these are loosely connected to the church.
(Video) Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: An interview with Thom Schultz 535262966
  • Third, he notes the third group, which no doubt he ranks as "his" group, that he calls the convictional Christians. These are the true Christians who are actually living their faith, according to Ed Stetzer.

I've got news for you, Mr. Stetzer, there are scores of people who have left the church, not because they possess some phony or inferior faith, as you would like to believe, but precisely because they do not want to be around judgmental people like you. They have left, not to abandon their faith, but precisely because they wish to preserve it. You would be much better off to leave the judgment-making to Someone infinitely more qualified to do so (Matt. 7:1).

5. Religious Pluralism

Speaking of competition, there is a fifth trend impacting the decline of the church in America. People have more choices today. Credit this to the social changes in the '60s, to the Internet, to the influx of immigrants and minorities, to whatever you'd like, but the fact is, people today meet other people today of entirely different faith traditions and, if they are discovering anything at all, it is that there are scores of people who live as much, if not more, like Christ than many of the Christians they used to sit beside in church.

The diversity of this nation is only going to expand. Which is why, you might debate some of Diana Eck's conclusions, the Harvard scholar and researcher, but her basic premise in correctly stated in the title of her book, A New Religious America: How a 'Christian Country' Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation.

6. The "Contemporary" Worship Experience

This, too, has contributed to the decline of the church. It's been the trend in the last couple of decades for traditional, mainline churches to pretend to be something they're not. Many of them have experimented with praise bands, the installation of screens, praise music, leisure dress on the platform, and... well... you know how well that's been received.

Frankly, it has largely proven to be a fatal mistake. Of course, there are exceptions to this everywhere and especially in those churches where there is an un-traditional look already, staging, an amphitheater-style seating, as well as the budget to hire the finest musicians to perform for worship. In traditional, mainline churches, however, trying to make a stained-glass atmosphere pass as the contemporary worship place has met with about as much success as a karaoke singer auditioning for The X Factor.

(Video) 5 REASONS MILLENNIALS HAVE STOPPED ATTENDING CHURCH | The Truth About Millennials And Church

7. Phony Advertising

There's one more trend I'll mention I believe is having devastating impact on the Church and most certainly contributing to its decline. You cannot tell Millennials that your church welcomes everybody -- that all can come to Jesus -- and then, when they come, what they find are few mixed races or no mixed couples.

You cannot say, "Everybody is welcome here if, by that, you really mean, so long as you're like the rest of us, straight and in a traditional family."

In the words of Rachel Evans, a millennial herself and a blogger for CNN, "Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters."

In other words, cut the bull. If everyone is not really equally welcomed to the table at your church, stop advertising that you are open to anyone. That is not only a lie, but Millennials can see through the phony façade as clearly as an astronomer, looking through the Hubble telescope, can see the infinity of space.

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There are other trends. These are just a few of them. In Part Two, I'll offer some "best practices" I think the Church should seriously consider if it ever plans to get real and honest about its future and its influence on culture and society.

Also on The Huffington Post

FAQs

Why do people not go to church anymore? ›

Among self-identified Christians, the predominant reason that non-churchgoers offer for not attending worship services is that they practice their faith in other ways. Upwards of four-in-ten (44%) say this is a very important reason for not going to church more often.

Why Christians do not go to church? ›

Among non-churchgoers who self-identify as Christians, the predominant reason offered for not attending worship services is that they practice their faith in other ways. Almost half of evangelicals in this category (46 percent) say this is a very important reason for not going to church more often.

Is Christianity on the decline? ›

And while it's still the dominant religion, the country's Christian majority has been shrinking for decades. Now, a new study from Pew Research Center shows that as of 2020, the number of Americans who identify as Christian is about 64%. Fifty years ago, that number was 90%.

Can you still believe in God and not go to church? ›

Most people who stop attending church services still believe in God, according to new research commissioned by the Church of Scotland. Many who no longer attend church choose to express their faith in new ways, said Scotland's national Church.

Is it a sin if I don't go to church? ›

If I Don't Go to Church, Will I Got To Hell? - YouTube

How many Christians do not go to church? ›

According to a 2021 survey, 31 percent of Americans never attend church or synagogue, compared to 22 percent of Americans who attend every week.

Does the Bible tell us to go to church? ›

The Bible tells us to meet together as believers and to encourage one another. The number one reason to encourage Christians to find a good church is because the Bible instructs us to be in relationship with other believers. If we are part of Christ's body, we will recognize our need to fit into the body of believers.

What is it called when you believe in God but don't go to church? ›

Many describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or “SBNR,” as researchers refer to them. As a professor of theology at a Unitarian Universalist and multireligious seminary, I encounter many students who fit within the SBNR mold.

What do you call someone who doesn't go to church? ›

Anything not affiliated with a church or faith can be called secular. Non-religious people can be called atheists or agnostics, but to describe things, activities, or attitudes that have nothing to do with religion, you can use the word secular.

Which religion is decreasing in world? ›

The Presbyterian Church has had the sharpest decline in church membership: between 2000 and 2015 they lost over 40% of their congregation and 15.4% of their churches. Infant baptism has also decreased; nationwide, Catholic baptisms are down by nearly 34%, and ELCA baptisms by over 40%.

What religion spread the fastest? ›

Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.

Where do most atheists live? ›

Of the global atheist and non-religious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).

What is the biggest problem facing the church today? ›

Other issues seen by more than half of American pastors as major concern facing the church in the U.S. include: poor discipleship models (63%), addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity (58%), prosperity gospel teaching (56%), reaching a younger audience (56%), and political polarization (51%).

Can only Christians go to heaven? ›

Nothing? Many of the world's religions promise some kind of harmonious after-life with the provision that those who seek such bliss subscribe to their faith traditions in human life. Traditional Christianity offers the option of heaven or hell, depending on both good behavior and a profession of the prescribed faith.

Who Wrote the Bible? ›

Even after nearly 2,000 years of its existence, and centuries of investigation by biblical scholars, we still don't know with certainty who wrote its various texts, when they were written or under what circumstances.

Why is going to church necessary? ›

Church services teach and uplift

What we learn at church gives us guidance on how to follow God, improve our spirituality, and live better lives. You can be uplifted by fellow believers and by the opportunity to serve and worship.

What to do when you cant go to church? ›

Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Pray and study the scriptures daily. There are many blessings that will come into your life as you make prayer and scripture study a daily habit. ...
  2. Make gospel study a personal pursuit. ...
  3. Have the Church brought to you. ...
  4. Honor the Sabbath day. ...
  5. Keep covenants.

Why do Christians have to go to church? ›

We “church” to glorify God. We gather around God. Romans 12:1 commands us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This lifestyle propels communal witnessing (1 Peter 2:9), repenting (Acts 2:38), worshipping (Psalm 150; Ephesians 5:19) and teaching (Colossians 3:16).

Why is religion in decline? ›

The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong.

Is Christianity increasing or decreasing? ›

According to the study, 75% of Americans identified as Christian in 2011—in 2021, that number shrunk to 63%, a 12% decrease. Ten years ago, roughly 18% of Americans were not affiliated with any religion, identifying as agnostic, atheist or “nothing in particular”—that number grew to 29% in 2021, an 11% increase.

What age group is most religious? ›

Young Americans Are More Religiously Diverse

Americans ages 18–29 are the most religiously diverse age group.

What is the purpose of the church according to the Bible? ›

The mission of the Church is to prepare the way for the final establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. Its purpose is, first, to develop in men's lives Christ-like attributes; and, second, to transform society so that the world may be a better and more peaceful place in which to live.

Who does the Bible say we should pray to? ›

Next Jesus says we should pray "hallowed be your name." This is essentially a declaration of praise to God for His perfect nature. It is an acknowledgement that His name is worthy to be set apart as Holy.

What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›

But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.” Historically, scholars have often understood this as a warning against pagan practices of mourning.

What is a person with no religion called? ›

2 The literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to Merriam-Webster. And the vast majority of U.S. atheists fit this description: 81% say they do not believe in God or a higher power or in a spiritual force of any kind.

Why do atheists go to church? ›

A new study out of Rice University has found that 17 percent - about one out of five scientists who describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics - actually go to church, although not too often, and not because they feel a spiritual yearning to join the faithful. More likely, it's because of the kids.

Who created God? ›

We ask, "If all things have a creator, then who created God?" Actually, only created things have a creator, so it's improper to lump God with his creation. God has revealed himself to us in the Bible as having always existed. Atheists counter that there is no reason to assume the universe was created.

Does God exist Yes or no? ›

The atheistic conclusion is that the arguments and evidence both indicate there is insufficient reason to believe that any gods exist, and that personal subjective religious experiences say something about the human experience rather than the nature of reality itself; therefore, one has no reason to believe that a god ...

What religions dont believe in God? ›

Atheism. Atheism describes a state of having no theistic beliefs; that is, no beliefs in gods or supernatural beings.

What is it called when you believe in God but not the Bible? ›

An agnostic theist believes in the existence of one or more gods, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable. The agnostic theist may also or alternatively be agnostic regarding the properties of the god or gods that they believe in.

Which religion will be biggest in 2050? ›

Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 … The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.

Where is Christianity growing the most? ›

Christianity has been estimated to be growing rapidly in South America, Africa, and Asia. In Africa, for instance, in 1900, there were only 8.7 million adherents of Christianity; now there are 390 million, and it is expected that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians in Africa.

Do Muslims convert to Christianity? ›

While conversions to Islam are commonplace and widely reported, conversions out of Islam are generally kept more hush-hush. In the West, experts estimate thousands of Muslims switch to Christianity every year but keep their conversions secret for fear of retribution.

How many Christians convert each year? ›

There are approximately 2.7 million conversions to Christianity every year, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia.

Which is the growing religion in world? ›

Pew Research Center reported that Islam is the fastest-growing religious group in the world compared to another religious group.

Are atheists happier? ›

The analysis revealed that believers show higher scores in life satisfaction, while atheists demonstrate higher scores in psychological flourishing. However, both believers and atheists presented robust levels of life satisfaction and psychological flourishing.

What country believes in God the most? ›

This article charts a list of countries by importance of religion.
...
Countries/Districts.
Rank1
Country/DistrictJapan
Yes, important14%
No, unimportant86%
111 more columns

What does the Bible say about atheism? ›

According to Psalms 14 and 53 the man who says there is no God is corrupt, is a liar, and never does good. It is no surprise that the Apostle Paul cites portions of these psalms in order to make his point that no human is righteous and that none seeks for God (Rom 3:10–12).

What is the biggest problem facing the church today? ›

Other issues seen by more than half of American pastors as major concern facing the church in the U.S. include: poor discipleship models (63%), addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity (58%), prosperity gospel teaching (56%), reaching a younger audience (56%), and political polarization (51%).

What do you call someone who doesn't go to church? ›

Anything not affiliated with a church or faith can be called secular. Non-religious people can be called atheists or agnostics, but to describe things, activities, or attitudes that have nothing to do with religion, you can use the word secular.

Why do churches fail? ›

One of the most obvious reasons churches fail is based upon the failure of the leadership. Not all churches fail based on leaders alone, but in many cases, the problems that precipitated the ultimate downfall of a local church were due in some part to failure on behalf of the leadership.

What is the purpose of going to church? ›

Church services teach and uplift

You can be uplifted by fellow believers and by the opportunity to serve and worship. You can also feel the Holy Spirit who brings “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and] faith” (Galatians 5:22).

What problems are Christians facing today? ›

Terrorism Same-Sex Marriage Debt Cancellation The AIDS Pandemic These are just some of the critical contemporary issues addressed in this book. Issues Facing Christians Today helps thinking Christians sift through and respond to a sweeping array of complex and pressing topics.

What are the major issues in Christianity? ›

The major issues in Christian eschatology are the Tribulation, death and the afterlife, (mainly for Evangelical groups) the Millennium and the following Rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, Resurrection of the Dead, Heaven, (for liturgical branches) Purgatory, and Hell, the Last Judgment, the end of the world, and the ...

What are the common problems in the church? ›

Many churches miss out on amazing opportunities to witness to new believers because they have trouble expanding.
  • Not Ready to Expand.
  • Not Enough Space.
  • Communication Issues.
  • Resistance to Change.
  • Encouraging Attendance.
  • Retaining New Congregants.
28 Aug 2018

What is it called when you believe in God but don't go to church? ›

Many describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or “SBNR,” as researchers refer to them. As a professor of theology at a Unitarian Universalist and multireligious seminary, I encounter many students who fit within the SBNR mold.

Does God exist Yes or no? ›

The atheistic conclusion is that the arguments and evidence both indicate there is insufficient reason to believe that any gods exist, and that personal subjective religious experiences say something about the human experience rather than the nature of reality itself; therefore, one has no reason to believe that a god ...

What is a person with no religion called? ›

2 The literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to Merriam-Webster. And the vast majority of U.S. atheists fit this description: 81% say they do not believe in God or a higher power or in a spiritual force of any kind.

How do you save a dying church? ›

3 Non-Negotiables for Revitalizing a Dying Church
  1. Cultivate a hospitable, compassionate congregation.
  2. Accept—and enact—necessary change.
  3. Operate in light of your primary mission—making disciples.
  4. Hope for dying churches.
19 Feb 2019

What makes a growing church? ›

Biblical teaching, an outward focus, and a strong vision or mission were the most common answers in the June Evangelical Leaders Survey. “Some say churches must have a dynamic pastor or an engaging worship band or the best technology for them to grow,” NAE President Leith Anderson said.

Does the Bible tell us to go to church? ›

The Bible tells us to meet together as believers and to encourage one another. The number one reason to encourage Christians to find a good church is because the Bible instructs us to be in relationship with other believers. If we are part of Christ's body, we will recognize our need to fit into the body of believers.

What does the Bible say about serving in the church? ›

Jesus said, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). As true followers of Jesus, we also must serve others. Service is helping others who need assistance. Christlike service grows out of genuine love for the Savior and of love and concern for those whom He gives us opportunities and direction to help.

What are the 5 purposes of the church? ›

Warren suggests that these purposes are worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission, and that they are derived from the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37–40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20). Warren writes that every church is driven by something.

Videos

1. Is It a Sin to Not Go to Church? | Little Lessons with David Servant
(David Servant)
2. What Made You Leave the Church? | Why I Don't Go (Episode 1) #WIDG
(Jude 3 Project)
3. I'm Done: Why I Quit Going to Church
(MyTwoCents)
4. 5 Ways To Identify A False Church | Signs Of The Devil's Church Explained By Apostle Gino Jennings
(The Great And Terrible God)
5. So you don't want to go to church anymore? Book Review
(Trish Jenkins Ministries: Prison to Promise!)
6. Why I don't go to church anymore and what happened to 4Poofs podcast?! 🔴
(Joel Wood)

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