Friday, December 7, 2012

Why don't people come to church?

A Texas pastor asked them

Ask any group in your church: "Why do people not come to worship? What keeps people away from church?" You might hear:

• "We need a better youth program."

• "We have to have a different style of worship service."

• "We need to advertise."

• "If only we had a nursery for young children."

The rallying cries will begin. Usually they center around programs. If the church could just provide better programs, or more programs, people would begin to come back to church. Occasionally you will hear about preferences — about the time or worship style. Then there is the question of staff: those who think that if the right person were pastor, director of Christian education or worship director, people would come flooding through the doors.

These are the answers that church people give when they try to figure out why people don't go to church. Friends, we could not be more wrong.

I recently spent a week using social media to "listen" to people who do not go to church — listening to their explanations for why they stay away. I didn't argue with them. I didn't defend the church. I just listened. And what I heard broke my heart.

The No. 1 thing that keeps people away from the church is the people who are in the church.

Outside of our doors, there is a multitude of people who have been hurt by people in the church. They have been judged for not looking the way we wanted them to look. They have been judged for making mistakes and for choosing to live lives that look different from ours. They have heard the people who worship on Sunday say hateful things on Monday. They have witnessed the followers of the Prince of Peace spreading malicious gossip against their "brothers and sisters."


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