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Why people don’t go to church

Why people don’t go to church

According to Barna research, the most common reason people don’t go to church is “they find God elsewhere.”

What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith? When Barna Group asked, people offered a variety of answers—prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children—but church did not even crack the top-10 list.

bu-032514-info4.jpgAlthough church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, U.S. adults today are evenly divided on the importance of attending church. While half (49%) say it is “somewhat” or “very” important, the other 51% say it is “not too” or “not at all” important. The divide between the religiously active and those resistant to churchgoing impacts American culture, morality, politics and religion.

Looking to future generations does not paint an optimistic picture for the importance of churchgoing. Millennials (those 30 and under) stand out as least likely to value church attendance; only two in 10 believe it is important. And more than one-third of Millennial young adults (35%) take an anti-church stance. In contrast, Elders (those over 68) are the most likely (40%) to view church attendance as “very” important, compared to one-quarter (24%) who deem it “not at all” important. Boomers (ages 49—67) and Gen Xers (ages 30—48) fall in the middle of these polar opposites. While the debate rages about what will happen to Millennials as they get older—Will they return to church attendance later in life?—they are starting at a lower baseline for church participation and commitment than previous generations of young adults.


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Bruce Robison

The Lutheran Satire Youtube Channel recently had a significant take on the question of “Why people (and especially ‘young people’) don’t go to church . . . .”

Bruce Robison

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

If you want to know the truth, it’s far more complex.

Some people don’t go because the “church” doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. They like to hear that they’re special, that they’re chosen, that they’re above the laws of Man. That’s just a fact, and it’s a fact of young people as much as old people.

Most of the “young people” I know are turned off by the obvious attempts to change form – silly “special” masses and trendy garbage. Trying to be hip and topical. Praying for basketball teams.

You want hard truths, there it is. You have to stop trying to change the form and figure out what it is, at the base, at the simple core, that the church has to offer. What is it that drew people to Christ? Why aren’t we that? Stop doing bloody “market research” and look within, because that’s the problem – not bells and whistles expected “out there.”

– Mark Brunson

Richard III

I’ve observed that too many churches and their clergy present as being know it all, condemning, judgmental, unfriendly, hateful, greedy, you name it, claiming to represent Jesus while showing people their arse. Is it any wonder that young people today don’t want to have anything to do with church. Many of them expect the rhetoric to be accompanied by action. TV clergy, if you want to call them that, only appear to be money grubbing con men who live lavishly, giving a lot of folks the impression that all who are religious are cut from the same piece of cloth. If the church can’t be authentic or be seen as such why should it expect to be taken that way.

Richard Warren

Rod Gillis

Articles like this one are often top heavy with statistics that measure who is attending and who is not attending, but tend not to delve too deeply into the question of why people, especially younger generations, shun attending. Just for example, the historic delivery platform for mainline Christianity over the past five centuries has been the ethnic and culturally based denomination. Sure we are a [insert name of] Christian country, but churches really existed to solidify barriers between various Christian creeds, but solidify as well barriers against non-Christians, barriers between rich and poor, black and white, French and English, there were highland Scot Catholics (and Episcopalians), and lowland Presbyterians, and so it goes. A wry comment from a church watcher of many years ago was that High Church Episcopalians were people who wanted to be Catholic but did not want to get cozy with poor Irish immigrants. We strive to be inclusive, I know, and the church is trying to adapt,we’ve come a long way baby, but is it working? Maybe Younger people are just not into this kind of social model of belonging, and not all that interested in clubs that are/once were grounded in defining difference, and without which are unclear about the way forward?

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