Why People attend Church?

Why People attend Church?
By David Cox

In this article on Why People attend Church? I examine some polls and biblical principles on what is and what should be drawing people to our churches. We need to examine what is inside peope’s heads, and what we (pastors and church leadership) can do to try to change people’s ideas and actual practices.

Why people Attend Church

According to Gallup poll (2007), these are people’s answers and the percentage that checked one of these as a reason they attend church.

  • For spiritual growth and guidance 23%
  • Keeps me grounded/inspired 20%
  • It’s my faith 15%
  • To worship God 15%
  • The fellowship of other members/The community 13%
  • Believe in God/in religion 12%
  • Brought up that way/family value/tradition 12%

Most of these answers I would consider to be in the right area of biblical reasons why we should attend church. It is important to understand that people are coming to your church for spiritual help, and if they don’t get it, they will probably go somewhere else.

Why people don’t attend any church

According to Gallup poll (2007), these are people’s answers and the percentage that checked one of these as a reason they don’t attend any church.

Thought-out rational reasons

  • Don’t agree with organized religion/what they preach 24%
  • Don’t believe in going to church 16%
  • Atheist/Don’t believe in God 10%
  • Church wants/asks for too much money 3%

Practical or “default” Reasons

  • Don’t have time/Don’t get around to it 21%
  • Don’t have a church I connect with 9%
  • I’m lazy 6%
  • Poor health/Disabled 2%
  • Family members are different religions 1%
  • No reason in particular 6%

The Unsaved Factor

I have been in the ministry since 1975, and over these 40 years, I have seen and come to the “revelation” that many of a local churches problems is simply the people (and/or the pastor/leadership) are unsaved. They are pretending to be Christians, but they do not have the new birth, they are not a new creature.

This is both good and bad. First it is bad because these people often influence, shape, and mold what the local church is, or what it tries to be. Many people want to be entertained and “to feel comfortable” (i.e. no rebuking kind of preaching). While this is a problem, we should not “cave in” on this issue and remove any kind of exhortation or rebuke of sin from our preaching.

The good side of this is that many churches have a captive audience, in that these people may not be saved, but they are inside the walls of the church. What this tells me as a pastor is that I need to NOT ASSUME EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THE PLAN OF SALVATION AND IS SAVED. I need to preach on a recurring regular basis, clear sermons about the plan of salvation.

While studying for my masters in education, they presented an interesting statistic. Schools were looking for the best teachers out there, and so they decided to get the most brillant students and put them into teacher positions. What they found out wa that they were lousy teachers! That is because they understood the principles at first presentation. The best teachers were those that got B’s or high C’s. That is because they had to wrestle with the concepts, and when the first presentation didn’t get them understanding, they had to try plan B, C, and D, and after attacking the subject matter from several different angles and in different ways, they finally got it. These same B students made great teachers because once they presented the subject matter and their students didn’t get it, they could easily shift things around and present the same subject matter in different aspects and lights and presentations, and eventually their students got it also.

In our churches, our pastors need to constantly present the reality of salvation, the plan of salvation, or how to be saved. They need to break from always the same presentation or always looking at things from the same angle. They need to reapproach it from different angles or aspects.

Being Part of the Church Community

From another website (United Methodist Church), they cite a Barna survey with these statistics for why go to church:

  • Church helps my spiritual development 39%
  • Opportunity to find out more about God 38%
  • Opportunity to make friends and nurture friendship 38%
  • Knowing that anyone will be welcomed into the church community 38%
  • Opportunity for support during difficult times 37%

People (most people) understand that “church” is a religious community, and we should be active in interpersonal relationships (a spiritual activity that pleases the Lord) when we go to church. Church should be telling our people how to live their lives using the moral principles of God.

See my tract doct25 Jesus our Moral Pattern.