Tag Archives: Church attendance

So church, how are we doing?

Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. Last month they published their most recent findings in an article entitled: State of the Church Series

In this research project they evaluate trends in 14  Religious Factors over 20 years (1991-2001). You can read the entire article here but I want to share two key findings that I consider to be rather alarming.

  • The most carefully watched church-related statistic is adult attendance. Since 1991, attendance has receded by nine percentage points, dropping from 49% in 1991 to 40% in 2011.
  • The most prolific change in religious behavior among those measured has been the increase in the percentage of adults categorized as unchurched. The Barna Group definition includes all adults who have not attended any religious events at a church, other than special ceremonies such as a wedding or funeral, during the prior six month period. In 1991, just one-quarter of adults (24%) were unchurched. That figure has ballooned by more than 50%, to 37% today.

In short, fewer people are attending church services and the number of people who have no background with church attendance is increasing. What does this mean?

Reread Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus didn’t tell us to bring them in and make them comfortable. He told us to “go and make disciples…”

Have we turned a mission into a membership role with perks and privileges? I don’t believe that everything we are doing is wrong; we’re just not focused on the highest priority of reaching out to those who don’t yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

This should cause us to pause and ask: Why do we do what we do? Are we trying to keep the saved comfortable and accommodated or are we doing whatever we can to reach out to the lost?

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, influence with the world, involvement with the church

Church attendance a poor indicator

A recent CNN article listed 10 exercise myths that won’t go away. One of those listed was:

Myth #10 – Your cardio machine is counting the calories you’re burning.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Mark Macdonald, personal trainer and author of “Body Confidence” about the calorie numbers spit out by the cardio machine.

Some machines don’t even ask for your weight or gender.

“It’s not asking your body composition,” he said. “If you’re at 18% body fat, you’re going to burn a lot more than if you’re a female at 35% body fat.”

And how many people know their body fat percentage? The number calculated by your machine is likely not accurate. It is an arbitrary number that gives us the illusion of how much progress we are making.

The same thing can happen with church attendance. The body of Christ – the church – is God’s design and serves many essential purposes; but being an indicator of our spiritual progress is NOT one of them.

You and I know lots of people who have attended church services for years and years but don’t do life any differently than before they attended church. Gathering with others is important as we join to celebrate God, encourage one another and learn from His word. But attendance alone does not equal spiritual progress.

Spiritual progress – living and loving more and more like Jesus – happens as we pursue greater intimacy with the Lord and live it out with our neighbors. A better indicator of our spiritual progress is based on Jesus’ greatest commandment in Matthew 22.

Do we have an increasing capacity for loving God and others?

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Filed under Christianity, intimacy with the Lord, Loving God, Loving others, Morphing