Unchurched: It’s Worse Than You Think
As part of our book promotion we have been invited to every part of the country and we hear the same story over and over again everywhere. Church in America, Catholic and Protestant, is in decline. People are leaving in astonishing and astounding numbers. For all the wishful thinking of those most optimistic among us, there is no sign of a turn around and all data points to an acceleration. More than 80% of the nation has already found something better to do on Sunday mornings than go to church. And among the remaining 18-20% who would describe themselves as active, the vast majority in this category are only once or twice a month attendees. The days of weekly attendance among the faithful are (at least currently) a thing of the past.
Yet, 90% of Americans say they believe in God, and 88% say that their faith is important to them. So obviously there is some kind of dramatic disconnect between people’s faith and our churches. In their great book, UnChristian, Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman’s share their research about the main reasons people don’t want to go to church.
Reason #1: “I feel judged”
87% of Americans label Christians as judgmental and 91% say Christians are anti-gay. Those two perceptions alone account for myriad defections and departures from churchworld. People view the Church as critical, disapproving, and condemning and don’t want any part of it.
Reason #2: “I don’t want to be lectured”
This translates into “you don’t care what I think,” and that translates into “you don’t care about me.” If people think we don’t care about them and what they think, they don’t want to be around us.
Reason #3: “Church people are hypocrites.”
85% of Americans hold this view, which means even some people in the Church think this way too. Of course we are all guilty of saying one thing and doing another. But the perception is we’re pretending to be perfect. And people hate such attitudes.
Reason #4: “Church is irrelevant”
The experience of church is boring and bad for the unchurched and their view is that we simply have nothing to say to them.
Probably none of this comes as a surprise, we’ve all heard it before. At the same time such information need not be a source of frustration or fear. It can instead motivate and move us to start working against these perceptions (especially if they are actually true about your church). We can take positive steps to make sure that the experience of our church works against such perspectives.