are you a “church-goer” or a “church stay-awayer”???

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrew 10:24-25

WFPC, early Saturday morning

WFPC, early Saturday morning

I am not a “natural” early riser. Yet I set my alarm for 6:10 every Saturday morning, and I do the same for Sundays. Why? Because my commitment to be a disciple of Jesus in the context of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is way more important than my personal preferences when it comes to time, comfort, convenience etc.

I mention this because I am genuinely befuddled when it comes to the “consumer mentality” that defines the approach so many North American church-goers (or “church stay-awayers”) apply to their practice of “Christianity.”

OUR CHURCH ROCKS! But, first, the following important observation. We’d always love to see more people in church, but the three faith-communities where Rebekah has served have all been inspirational examples of faithfulness and commitment – beautiful and Christ-centered exceptions when compared to the “trends” observed in so many congregations.

You might find the following national statistics interesting…

  1. Just 17.7% of the U.S. population attend a Christian church on any given weekend.
  2. The average size of a Protestant church in America is 124.
  3. In my denomination – the PC(USA) – “LARGE” congregations are defined as “those with over 250 members.”
  4. Average attendance decreases as a function of size. Protestant congregations our size (around 800 members) typically see 35% of their congregation on a given Sunday.
  5. Overall, the average, or mean, number of Presbyterians in worship in 2013 was 97 (our members are neither average nor mean!).
  6. Of 10,005 active PC(USA) congregations, only 313 are larger than WFPC.

IMG_5058Here in Wake Forest, average weekly attendance runs around 400 (a little less in the summer, a lot more in the fall, winter, and spring), or 50%-plus of membership. By the time we left Brandon, we routinely saw 70% or more in worship. We have consistently bucked the trends because – I believe – our focus has been on building communities of disciples rather than assembling members for the rolls.

CHALLENGE: So let me throw this challenge your way: Take a look at your church attendance (whatever congregation and denomination you’re a part of). If you show up once a month, then make a commitment to come twice. If you make it to worship 50% of the time, then make a promise God you will make it to church it least three times a month.

Here’s what will happen; I guarantee it. Your faithfulness will encourage others. After a while, the increase in church attendance will add a spark of life to the entire congregation. Then, with the natural enthusiasm that accompanies such encouragement, you will begin to experience a renaissance in spiritual life that will propel your faith community forward.

come join us!

come join us!

Just because you… and you… and you… and maybe you, made the decision to shift from a membership mindset to a discipleship model.

Go on; I dare you! And invite a friend while you’re at it – DEREK

Categories: faith, God, Live Like You Mean It, The Church

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8 replies

  1. I like Dallas Willard’s definition of discipleship: learning from Jesus how to live like Jesus. Church attendance may help with that – but it depends on the church. Many churches emphasize worhip attendance (along with putting money in the plate) with the result that many end up feeling empty and disillusioned. A more complete, balanced emphasis on discipleship, including deep, mutually supportive relationships coupled with hands-on, face-to-face engagement in mission is the remedy. It needs to be encouraged from the get-go. Those who do will have plenty of reason to worship God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What I have been through in my Christian walk would amaze people. I have been turned down jobs for being Catholic, turned down jobs from the Catholic Church because of my criminal past even though I have a degree in Catholic Theology. The Holy Spirit taught me the Bible backwards and forward. I have read so many books about Christianity, William Booth in the Salvation Army to the Roman Empire and Catholic Church history, to the Saints of all faith. I have been criticized by people for my praying in public, for my witnessing in public. I have a lot of respect for all sorts of faith religions. I was abused has a kid, attempted suicide many times, been angry at God more times than I can fathom. People forget the biggest thing, God doesn’t need us, he is complete in himself. We are in need of him. A lot of the reasons church attendance is down because there are a lot of other distractions in this world. Some humans believe their lives are their own, they can do what they want with it, they don’t understand that God sustains all humans who are living from second to second. That it is God who makes the sun rise, keeps the earth on its axis. That it is God who gave them this life. God is all, in all. There are two kinds of people in the world. The Old Adam and the new Adam, Christians. Church attendance is down also because people think they can be spiritual without religion. What that is about is anything that is agreeable to their tastes.(Example): I don’t have to give my money to church to be spiritual. They don’t understand Christ at all. Love costs dearly, love is a sacrifice of your time and money including the possibility of your life for that name. Most of the love we see is superficial. Men care more for their reputations including some members of church. The same love we give to our children, we are to give to complete strangers, even our enemies. We are to think of our neighbors as better than we are. Men seek prestige, possessions and power. Jesus saught none of those things. The main problem humans don’t fear the judgement of God. Thanks for your time.


  2. I have a lot to do with music ministry in the Midlands, UK. I think God is due some smiting, the God of materialism. Indeed we find that this new idol has replaced any ‘need’ for God, but of course, this is incorrect. God doesn’t need us, we need him!

    I have also seen people very quickly fall in love then turn away from Churches because of the money-in-plate requirement.

    I imagine I’m preaching to the choir here though, lovely article, bless. x


  3. But of course! That pretty-much sums up my point – and the focus of WFPC. Dallas Willard is an excellent Christian thinker.


  4. It is true what you are saying.
    I must admit, I have been trying to bring my friends to church with me, even those claiming to be Christians without a “house”. And yet, I still end up alone in church a whole 18 months later. They keep making excuses, preferring to watch a movie at that time in the cinema, having a date with someone, sleeping in late, or sorting out work stuff.
    It is frustrating, mostly because I think it is an excellent place to spend time with Christian friends, to have something worth discussing since we share the same Saviour and beliefs. However, they don’t see it that way and won’t outright tell me, “I don’t want to be in church.”
    I’ve been told recently by a wise, old colleague that many young people and even adults will only attend church if they can find their boyfriend or girlfriend, or get famous in the leadership or worship team. But since many of them do not get what they want, they stay away, looking elsewhere for it.
    And I have been seeing that happen in my church and in my cell group. And trust me if I say that the worship is powerful and amazing, the sermons really have an impact on me, and my cell group has been life-changing. So why others won’t look beyond their selfish wants to their Saviour, goes beyond me.
    But thank you all the same for the article. And yes, we must keep trying. Somewhere, things will turn around.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I get what Jesse is saying and I can relate to what Ruth is saying and Derek has certainly revealed a key truth that gets missed by a lot of people.

    To Jesse I would suggest that church attendance is necessary in order that the “definition of discipleship” can even be taught and learned. Although I recognize that far too many “Christians” remain on milk far far too long, it takes a time of milk before meat can be digested and useful. To reach the place you have described could only be possible through faithful church attendance. There needs to be an merciful awareness of the entire community’s spiritual requirements. As far as “bad” churches go, if this problem has been discerned, which I’m certain at least in this “room” it has been, then this insight was given so that we might be drawn to pray for these churches. Not just occasionally, but diligently. The definition of diligently is “painstakingly”. We have a lot of brothers and sisters in Christ that need to be lead to a “good” church.

    To Ruth I would encourage to stay strong. Your pain, if I may call it, is not going unnoticed by our Lord and Savior Jesus. Nor is your faithfulness. The problem is much deeper than what your wise friend expressed. The Church needs people like you. People who face the rejection of sorts by their circle of friends and family but continue offering the invitation. Is that not exactly what our Savior has been doing since His ministry began? Trust me, God will use you to reach others if you will remain faithful to the call and desires he has placed in your heart.

    To Derek I would say this. When I first read this post I was a little uninspired. It sounded too simplistic and “warm and fuzzy”. But then I reread it in a prayerful posture and one word jumped out at me in a huge way. That word was “COMMITMENT” . If that one word was truly and fully understood the Body of Christ would be clearly seen as a light in this dark world in which we live. A full and true commitment to God, to our faith, to our beliefs, to our mission, and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Without that commitment the ways of this world will forever have the ability to pull people away from church attendance and away from growing into disciples of Christ. Making a commitment to attend church more often is the very first step in understanding what commitment even means and requires. May God continue to use you in building the Body of Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

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