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Why people don’t come to church. Maybe?

Why people don’t come to church. Maybe?

The opinion editors at The New York Times found this piece valuable. I am not entirely sure that I agree, but you tell me.

From where I sit, the authors Joani and Thom Schultz have identified four frequently cited reasons that people don’t attend church, and then provided four cures for what ails us, only the last of which is remotely original. But, again, I could be wrong.

Their list:

1. Radical hospitality: People crave a sense of belonging. They’re looking for the kind of open acceptance that Jesus exemplified — initiating with love rather than condemnation.

2. Fearless conversation: This interactive culture wants to engage in a dialogue about faith. Rather than merely passively listen, they want to converse and ask hard questions.

3. Genuine humility: People hunger for a community that says: “We’re all in this together. We all struggle. No one has all the answers. We’re all trying to know and follow Jesus together.”

4. Divine anticipation: People want to know God is real. In addition to the biblical stories of God, people long to experience God in action today.

What if people don’t come to church any more because they no longer feel the need to worship either individually or in a community? What do we do about that?


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Harriet Baber

In the original NYTimes article, the 4th objection was: “I don’t experience God at church.”

That’s radically different from what is suggested by the response cited here, where the reply is: “People want to…experience God in action today.” This response suggests that people want to know about God’s action in the world, through worldly events, through his acting through people for social justice or whatever. But the original objection was about the quest for EXPERIENCE–about wanting to “experience God at church.”

That is what the Episcopal Church took away from us through liturgical revision: the sense of the holy, the numinous–the mysticism. Unforgivable, and why I eventually left.

The Church, intentionally or not, just doesn’t get our objections–and then wonders why people are leaving.

Bonnie Spivey

I agree in part and disagree in part.

From the article: “This is what people are saying, whether we like it or not.”

I believe we, TEC, really live the radical hospitality part. I think we do the fearless conversation part but I’m not really certain that we are hearing the concerns around 3. and 4.


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