In the modern world, declining attendance is a problem faced by almost every church. It is tempting to dismiss the problem as an indication of changing cultural attitudes. However, church leaders who want to address the issue need to look closely at why people are no longer attending their church services.
Cliques Create an Unwelcome Atmosphere
Churches work hard to provide a sense of community, but unfortunately, sometimes, this can make the church feel like a members-only club. This can be overwhelming for new visitors, who feel left out and confused by things like insider terminology and references to people a guest will not recognize. It can also cause problems for long-time members because it can encourage cliques and gossip.
The Church’s Message Isn’t Speaking to People
One of the biggest reasons people have for leaving a church is complaints about the pastor’s sermon. Of course, no church leader can appeal to all people at the same time. However, it is still important to closely examine what happens during a sermon. Messages that are unclear, confusing, use too much “church speak,” or focus too much on academic theology are a very quick way to lose an audience.
People Are Concerned About Hypocrisy Within the Church
Research indicates that the number one reason churches are losing an audience is that people are turned off by perceived hypocrisy. It is hard to preach a message of grace and acceptance when church leaders spend their time harassing others with opposing viewpoints. An audience is unlikely to view a church as a moral authority when ministers are sexually harassed or embezzled. Now more than ever, it is essential to pick church leaders who are above reproach.
Churches Aren’t Providing a Sense of God
Many church leaders are surprised to learn that the things they do to try and bring people in might be pushing them away. Attempts to be relatable, casual, and youthful can all end up making it hard for people to feel a sense of God’s majesty in church. Many surveyed millennials say they prefer traditional hymns, liturgies, and other less trendy ways of worship.