Ive heard many reasons from peopleboth non-Christians and Christians!as to
why they dont attend church. Its interesting that I hear basically the same 10
reasons over and over.
Although encouraging people to attend church is not the focus and goal of
evangelism, church attendance can be an important tool in sharing Christ. For
the Christian, church should draw us into a deeper understanding and commitment
to God and obedience to all of His Word, including the Great Commission. And
for the non-Christian, what better place to come to know God and meet the
Savior than in His house?
I have worked toward finding a response to the reasons people stay away from
church, whether it be a complaint against the church at large or simply a
personal concern. My hope is that, if we can kindly and graciously break down
some of these barriers, then perhaps through us God can draw people into
the church, and also to Himself.
Here are 10 reasons why people dont go to church along with ways to respond
to them. Many are based on Share Jesus
Without Fear by William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd (Broadman &
Holman, 1999). Ive included responses I give when I encounter these
1. People in churches are
hypocrites. (Or: You wouldnt believe what a Christian did to
me!)Well, yes, in a sense youre right. None of the people in any
church are perfectly loving, perfectly keeping Gods commandments or perfectly
practicing all they preach in every way. But thats why were in church. If we
were perfect, we wouldnt need a Savior! Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the
sick ... I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew
2. I dont have time. Sunday
morning is the only day I can sleep late.Most of us have very
busy lives. God knows you need rest. He also knows you need money to live on,
food to eat and clothes to wear. But
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be
given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).
When we give God a portion of our wages, we find what we have left goes
further than the whole amount ever did. Its the same with our time: When we
give God our time, we get more done in the time we have left than we ever did
when we kept all of it to ourselves. Try it and see!
3. I dont have nice clothes to wear to
church.What you wear is not important to Godnor to the rest of
us who attend church. In 1 Samuel 16:7 God said, Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord
looks at the heart. God (and we) would rather you be in church dressed in
whatever you have to wear than not have you there at all.
4. I dont need to go to church.
I can worship God, even when Im fishing.True. We are to live for
God every day, no matter where we are. But how do you know God and what He
requires of you? Many people have very wrong ideas about God. One of the main
functions of a church is to help us correctly understand God through His words
to us in the Bible.
Paul wrote to the Roman church, And
how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they
hear without someone preaching to them?... Faith comes from hearing the
message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans
5. Church is not
important.If by that you mean going to church does not earn us
salvation, you are right. Church attendance or membership does not make us a
Christian. Nor does not going to church mean a person is not a Christian. Our
salvation is not gained by an act we do, a work we perform or a set of rules we
follow. Salvation is a gift from God: For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that
no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But how should we respond to such a great gift? By
ignoring or neglecting God? Church gives us a place and a time to thank God. It
helps us understand God and what He has done for us. It challenges our thinking
and helps us discover for ourselves what the Bible says. Regular church
attendance is important to keep us on track and close to God throughout the
rest of the week.
Attending church should not be something we do because we have to. We should
attend church because we want to. King David wrote, I rejoiced with those who said to me, Let us go
to the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).
6. Church is for good people who havent messed up. You dont know
where Ive been or what Ive done.
Did you know Moses murdered a man in cold blood? David stole another mans wife
and had her husband killed. One of Jesus closest friends, Peter, lied by saying
he didnt even know Jesus. Paul killed Christians before he became one.
According to Romans 3:10, There is no
one righteous, not even one.
Youre rightI dont know what youve done. But you dont know what Ive done
either. If you came to church, you would be sitting beside other sinners. They
might be alcoholics, drug abusers or ex-convicts. The people around you might
be guilty of lying, cheating or stealing. God does not consider some sins
greater than othersto Him, all sins are sin. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles
at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). We are all
sinners, and we all need a Savior.
I appreciate these words from an unknown author: Every saint has a past.
Every sinner has a future.
7. There are so many churches
...I dont know which one to go to. Why should I come to
We all learn in different ways and respond to different pastors
personalities, so maybe our church isnt the one for you. We each need to find a
church where we can learn and grow and respond to God. The important thing is
to find a church that values Gods Word, the Bible, because the primary way we
know God is through His written instructions to us. Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words
will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).
At the church I attend, we strive to study Gods Word, to learn and grow and
to support each other. But we dont have it all together. So if youre looking
for the perfect church, you probably wont find it here. But if youd like to be
part of a bunch of ordinary people who are striving to know God and to live for
Him, youre always welcome to join us.
8. There are so many denominations ... even Christians cant agree
among themselves about what the Bible means.Youre right.
Christians do argue. Its something like the political parties in the United
States: Democrats and Republicans may argue about how to run the nation, but
when you get right down to it, we all love the United States of Americawe just
disagree on how to interpret the Constitution, what is the best way to run the
country, etc. To outsiders, we may appear to be tearing our nation apart. But
when enemies insult or attack us, outsiders are surprised at how were all
suddenly on the same side!
Christians love Jesus Christwe just dont always
agree on how to apply some scriptures, what is the best way to run the church,
etc. But all Christian churches agree on two things:
a. that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and
b. that there is only one way to heaven: through faith in Jesus Christ and
His death and resurrection. (Acts 4:12). All religions that do not agree with
these two truths are, by definition, not Christian.
9. I dont believe in God. Christians are dangerous fanatics,
politically unpopular and always trying to shove their beliefs on
others.Yes, there a few who call themselves Christians who
really give Christ a bad name, and the news media often focuses on them. (That
is, after all, by definition what news isthe unusual, the out-of-the-ordinary.)
But we should never judge a group of people by the few on the outer fringes. If
you came into our church, youd find were pretty ordinary people.
If you truly dont believe in God, or if you dont believe Jesus Christ is the
Son of God or if any other belief keeps you out of church and away from Jesus
Christ, then please consider this question: If what you are believing is not
true, would you want to know it?
10. Ive been thinking Id like
to go to church. But I dont know anyone. And I dont know what to do, where to
go, what to expect when I get there.
Its hard and it feels awkward to do anything for the first few times. Here are
Have you noticed a church near you or one you drive by often? If not, check
the phone book. Call the church office. You should find a friendly voice to
talk to. (Some churches dont have a full-time staff. If no ones there, leave a
message so they can get back to you.)
If youd like, ask to be matched up with someone in the church. Any of us
would love to meet youeven before you attend. That way, you will know someone before you come!
Also, we could pick you up Sunday morning, meet you for breakfast or coffee
before church or at least meet you in the parking lot to show you where to go
and what to do.
Stop by a church on a weekday and ask someone to show you around so the
place doesnt feel so foreign when you come on Sunday.
Just show up. Check out when the worship service starts. Many churches have
greeters to help you as you enter the sanctuary. If youd like, ask them to
introduce you to someone you can sit with.
As we befriend people outside the church and address their reasons for not
attending, we may actually find some of them soon joining us to worship
Dianne E. Butts is a writer living
in Limon, Colorado.
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