The trend is practically universal: fewer people are attending church every year. You can access almost any church you want, anywhere, anytime. Free. On your own. Any device.
So Why attend church?
Generations ago, the church was a social and cultural hub as well as a missional hub. In addition to faith reasons, people loved going to church because it was one of a handful of options available in a community as well as the main way (other than personal devotions) you connect with God.
We now live in a culture that’s drowning in options and has 24/7 access to anything Christian.
Carey Nieuwhof writes on his blog: he can think of only two compelling reasons to go to church anymore.
- You don’t attend church. You are the church.
Merely attending church doesn’t make you much of a church because sitting in a chair consuming church doesn’t make you very good at being the church.
I think being the church has something to do with living your life for Christ, demonstrating God’s love by serving others and sharing your faith with people. That’s very different than consuming church in a back row, which you can just as easily do on your back deck.
The reason you would go to church today is that you’ve moved from being a consumer to being a contributor. You don’t just go to be served, you go to serve. There’s something deeply scriptural about that.
- Bring a friend or explore Christianity.
I love being part of a church that is constantly designing experiences with those who are not yet in the room in mind. That’s what VCF does well, and I love both bringing friends into it for the first time and being there to connect with other people who bring their friends.
Spiritual maturity, after all, isn’t about how much you know. It’s about how much you love. And love that doesn’t flow out into the lives of other people isn’t love.
So that’s it. Two good reasons to keep attending church. First, you are the church, which means you’re engaged in the mission in some meaningful way. And second, you’re creating space where everybody (regardless of their background) can hear and experience the news of Christ’s love for them.
But that also means we live in an age where attending church for attendance’s sake is dying. Fast. And maybe that’s what we see happening around us. People who aren’t engaged in the mission are leaving the mission. And while that’s sad, you can’t build the future of the church on passionless, disengaged people. Nor can you build it on consumers.
The future will be built on Christians who want to serve, share and engage the mission of the local church.