Over the past several years, much has been made about the decline of church attendance in the United States, even among those who self-identify as Christian.
“It’s no longer obvious to many people why church should play a significant role in their lives,” said Andrew Arndt, a teaching pastor at the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based New Life Church, in a recent “Essential Church” podcast episode.
Joining Arndt in the discussion on “why church?” were Daniel Grothe and Glenn Packiam, both of whom serve as associate senior pastors at New Life Church.
Among other things, the trio of pastors discussed reasons why many Christians in the United States seldom attend worship. Here, in no particular order, are four reasons covered by their conversation.
Packiam noted that the consumerism of modern American Christianity may be impacting church attendance, as many Christians struggle with the many options for worship that are out there.
Those who don’t attend have cited such reasons as not having found a church they like or sermons they agree with.
“It didn’t used to be like that,” he explained. “It was ‘this is the neighborhood and we’re Lutherans, and there’s the Lutheran church and we’re going.'”
“Maybe, in some ways, the multitude of options has played into that American consumeristic notion that ‘you’re the one in charge. The consumer is king.’ And so now we’ve got options and one of those options is not going.”
Arndt noted, “I think of all the U.S. churches that I have been to over the years where, you know, the closing words spoken at the service are not the great words of blessing that we get in the Scriptures, but it will be something like ‘thank you for choosing to worship with us this weekend,’ which is a little like ‘thank you for flying Southwest.’ Something is lost in that.”
Grothe argued that another factor was “the loss of community” in the United States, a phenomenon documented in notable works like the book Bowling Alone.
“In America, we have spread out as a nation in a way that is unprecedented in time,” said Grothe, who contrasted American individualism with non-Western cultures.
“You go to Asia and you still got three generations living in the same house. And here we are in our own houses, we have broken our lives apart. We are living apart from family,” explained Packiam.
“We have change in economy which has changed the migration of people all around the globe. And so we find ourselves in new places and we don’t have these root systems of relationships that sustain us.”
Arndt noted that the church’s role in the community has also been reduced to only serve as a spiritual place, whereas before it held “so many community concerns together.”
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Source: Christian Post