Ever wonder why generating momentum in the local church seems harder than ever for most leaders?
You’re not alone; the conversation about momentum and shifting attendance trends is happening at every level of church, including some of the largest and fastest growing churches in North America.
Everyone is feeling at least two realities:
First, even people who attend church have stopped attending as frequently as they used to (I wrote about how to reverse that here).
Even in communities that are home to growing churches, the overall percentage of the population that attends church continues to drop, especially among under 30s.
Recently, the Barna Group released a new survey citing (among others) five compelling reasons church attendance continues to decline, particularly among Millennials (those 30 and under).
The good news is that once you spot the trends, you can work at reversing them.
5 reasons people have stopped attending your church.
In the study, Barna cites five specific reasons Millennials have stopped attending church that drew my attention:
1. The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical and leaders have experienced too much moral failure.
Yes, I know. That’s three reasons in one. But the Barna study groups all three reasons together as one reason.
And I think that might be because that’s what most people do in real life. I mean, just have a few conversations with unchurched people.
They will go something like this: The church is irrelevant (why would anyone go) and full of hypocrisy … just look at the moral failure of so many of its leaders.
To some extent, I can’t blame people for this perception. I wince every time I see another headline announcing a new moral failure. And far too many of us have been burned by the judgmentalism of the perpetually self-righteous.
So what’s the antidote?
Just because many churches are like that doesn’t mean yours has to be. It’s more than possible to create a counterculture of integrity and grace. It’s actually a bit strange to call things like integrity and grace countercultural (even within the context of church culture), but they are.
Jesus said that it would be by our fruit that people would recognize us. Live a life of integrity with each other and outsiders, and your church will become a magnet, not a repellant.