Why a lot of professing Christians never attend church

“Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”–unless, of course, the Lord reveals to you that you are the church, as one lady said to me.  Or, that you are smarter than the preacher, the deacons are trying to run the church, or no one in the congregation will speak to you.  Hebrews 10:25, sort of.

When you don’t want to do something, you shouldn’t have to have an excuse.

If you do not want to go to church, for instance, if you can skip church for a whole year and never miss it, you should “man up” and admit, “I’m not a Christian and don’t believe all that Bible stuff.  Church is for people who take the Lord seriously. Not me. So, I don’t go.”

Hmm. That felt ‘mean,’ didn’t it?  But it’s dead on accurate.

Please read on.

By “go to church,” we don’t necessarily mean a building with a steeple on it.  It could be a group of God’s people gathered in a living room to sing and pray and study the Word.  Or,  fifty people in a storefront.  The point is not the location or the structure but God’s people meeting on a regular basis for the work and worship of the Lord.

The redeemed of the Lord will be drawn to one another.  They love each other.  Jesus said so.

I heard of a pastor somewhere who collected excuses on “why people who call themselves Christians don’t go to church.”   He did not make these up…

One. A lady in the hills of North Georgia said, “In the winter it’s too cold, and in the summer I’m afraid of rattlesnakes.”

Two.  A farmer said, “One of my cows gets out of the pasture every Sunday.  Keeps me home all four Sundays every month.”  When asked about the 5th Sunday, he said, “They all get out on the fifth Sunday!”

Three.  A lady told her pastor, “I’m a shut-in and I’m offended you haven’t been to visit me.”  He kept trying, but she was never home.

Four.  “We’re not settled in yet.”  Oh, I’m sorry.  How long have you lived here?  “Only 7 years.”

Five. “We’re not going to church any more.  There are so many churches that we haven’t been able to decide which one to attend.  If there weren’t so many, we probably would have become active years ago.”

Six.  “I enjoyed the sermon, the choir, and the singing.  But I won’t be back. The sight of all those empty pews depressed me.”

Seven. This woman would not come because “I have to take care of my children.”  When they grew up and left home, she declined again and said, “I reckon I won’t.  I’ve never been much of a hand for gadding about.”

Why don’t Christians go to church?  I think I know.

You’re not going to like my answer.

They’re probably not Christians.  (I know. I said, “Why don’t Christians attend church” and then said they’re probably not Christians.)

Consider this brief analysis.

There is a social element to church-going, for both believers and unbelievers.  We meet friends, enjoy fellowship, and help each other with various situations. God made us that way. We need people.  “It is not good that (any one of us) should live alone.”

In this respect a church may fill much of the same function, in a way, as an Elks Club, American Legion, or lodge. Or even–for some people, I have heard–the friends at the pub.

In the earliest church, the believers gathered for “the apostles’ teaching, for fellowship, for breaking of bread, and prayer” (Acts 2:42).  Fellowship was, and remains, a huge element in the function of a church.

But for believers–those who truly do take the things of God seriously–that fellowship element, as important as it is, is just the icing on the cake.  Underneath it is the dead-serious work of the Kingdom–worshiping God, teaching His word, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, supporting those doing the Lord’s work, reaching out to those in need, etc.

Don’t miss this.  There are two strata in this soil, two flows in this river, two elements in church-going.  The top one is social and we call it fellowship; it’s more visible as a rule.  The other is spiritual, it’s underlying, and goes by a number of names–worship, ministry, outreach, and so forth.  It’s what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Teaching them to observe all the things I have taught you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

New believers need the church, they hunger for it as a newborn does its mother’s milk. A solid Christian will be in church, doing the work of the Lord, meeting with God’s people, and they will do this whether the fellowship aspect is there or not.  He/she needs ministry like a fish needs water, like we all need air.

A solid Christian loves the fellowship of a church, but even when he/she cannot find it in a church they visit, that’s not a deal-breaker.  They are there for Jesus’ sake, not their own.

The Christian-In-Name-Only (CINO) tries some churches, looking for all the trappings of a great fellowship.  They rate the churches by their friendliness, the attitude of the preacher (does he seem likeable, did he remember our names), the appearance of the buildings, the fun at the church gatherings, and such.  And if the church is lacking in these areas, they move on.  When no church in the area measures up, they simply do not go to church.

Because they’re there for the fellowship, not for Jesus Christ.

Is that brutal?  Probably.  And doubtless it’s not the whole story, not by any means. But it’s something to think about.

Our Lord said, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35).

I’ll see you in church Sunday, brother, sister.

 

18 thoughts on “Why a lot of professing Christians never attend church

  1. The difference between “believers”, (even devils believe), and “Christians” who have followed Jesus to His Cross of SACRIFICE for forgiveness.

  2. I love your stuff, Joe!
    For me, a pastor (in the same church) for almost 27 years, I find great “solace” (if that’s the right word) in Jesus’ parable of the soils. It explains a lot to me.

    Keep it up, Bro.

  3. God established the Church for the belivers and we draw strength and food for the soul from going. Try praying for yourself before you go and ask God to open your eyes and heart to His message. He will do it if you are in tune with Him.

  4. “Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.”
    ― Lenny Bruce
    Organized Religion is a money driven racket. None of the various “Christian” churches/sects I’ve tried in my sixty-five years put Christ first. It’s always about the money. The yearly cost of religious tax exemptions: $71,000,000,000. That’s a fact. I DO NOT NEED A CHURCH IN ORDER TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SAVIOR ANY MORE THAN I NEED A CATHOLIC PRIEST TO FORGIVE MY SINS. Also, I’ve found the bigger the church, the bigger the hypocrisy evidenced in the trappings of wealth. I meet and share my faith with others, not at any set time or place, but in the normal course of daily life. Trying to find a “true” church; I’ve felt like Diogenes searching the Earth for an honest man.

        • Hi William… If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, how many people have you shared to gospel to this year? How many sick person have you prayed for. How many poor people have you shake hand with and help financially or even a word of comfort in your Lord and Savior’s name. just a thought.

  5. We are saved by grace alone, by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone plus nothing else. Church attendance never saved before one was saved and attended, and doesn’t maintain one’s salvation once one is saved. It is a work, AFTER one is saved, and also …. good works, fruit etc. does not prove one is saved at all. Repentance means to change one’s mind about WHO CHRIST IS and to do what John 3:3 and John 3:16 says p e r I o d . As for church ‘attendance’, it was never for salvation and was never a salvation issue. The scripture in Hebrews regarding ‘forsaking not’ is not one which denotes who is saved, but is an exhortation to JEWISH BELIEVERS to exhort one another concerning the Lord’s imminent coming at the harpazo. Those who say that church attendance denotes salvation, or who call those who do not attend ‘false believers’ fall into this category of ‘works righteousness preachers’ …………..

    21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21 – 23

    …. or ‘did we not go to church?’ …. or ‘did we not go to bible study?’ etc ad nauseum.

    Mr. Preacher …. you preach ‘works righteousness’ and you will go to the Lake of Fire because He NEVER knew you.
    Pharisees religiously went to the temple and synagogue and those who rejected Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah and God in the Flesh …. are in H E L L , scalding, scorching, burning, searing and screaming. So, watch what you preach. Maranatha

    • Being a part of the church is a part of being born again. The church is the body of Christ and you are a part of it whether you like it or not.

  6. Eternal life is a free gift that cannot be lost, received by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works of any kind; that includes church attendance of any kind. ….. the
    assurance of our eternal destiny is based solely on believing Jesus’ promise to the believer, and not on looking to our works, experiences, or behavior;
    believers are accountable for our actions before God, and will be judged at the Bema to determine our eternal rewards, but not our eternal destinies so to tell believers they are not saved because they do not attend church is basically cruel and heretical.

    The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).
    Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14; 5:24; 6:47; 11:26; 1 Tim 1:16).
    No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).

    Assurance of everlasting life is certainty that one is eternally secure simply by faith in Jesus, not through church attendance of any kind . Assurance of everlasting life is based only on the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone possesses everlasting life (John 5:24; 1 John 5:9-13). Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary for a person to have assurance of everlasting life (Eph 2:10 ; Titus 3:8).
    Assurance is of the essence of believing in Jesus for everlasting life. That is, as long as a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life, he knows he has everlasting life (John 5:24 ; 6:35 , 47; 11:27 ; 1 John 5:9-13).

    Salvation and discipleship are different states. The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is to produce spiritual maturity reflected in consistent Christlike behavior and attitudes (Gal 5:22-25; Luke 14:25-33; Col 1:23-29). Therefore, obedience to the Word of God, while not necessary for obtaining everlasting life, is the essential responsibility of each Christian (Rom 6:12-23; Heb 5:13-14; 1 Cor 2:14–3:4). However, the Bible does not teach that this obedience will be manifested in all believers and that includes church attendance. If a believer does not yield to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his experience, failure will result, evidenced by sinful acts or even prolonged disobedience (1 Cor 10:1-13; Gal 5:16-21).

    The believer is assured of everlasting life and is thus eternally secure, since that life is guaranteed by the Lord Jesus Christ to all who believe in Him, and is based upon His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection (John 10:28-29; Rom 8:38-39). Therefore, it is inconsistent with the gospel and with Scripture to seek to gain or keep everlasting life by godly living. The Scriptures, however, do present several motivations for obedience in the Christian life.
    A powerful motivation for living the Christian life is gratitude to God for saving us by His grace (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 5:14 -15; Gal 2:20 ).
    Believers should also be motivated by the knowledge that their heavenly Father both blesses obedience and disciplines disobedience in His children (Heb 12:3-11; Lev 26:1-45). God is not mocked. Whatever a person sows, that he also reaps (Gal 6:7).
    Finally, every Christian must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not to determine his eternal destiny, for that is already set, but to assess the quality of his Christian life on earth (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12). Anticipating either reward or loss of reward at the Judgment Seat should also motivate believers to perseverance and to faithfulness to God’s revealed will (1 Cor 3:10 -17, 9:24 -27; Jas 5:8-9; 1 John 2:28 ). One’s capacity to glorify Jesus will forever be based on how faithful he was in his stewardship in this life (Luke 19:17 , 19, 22-26).

  7. So, may I be brutally honest back? This doesn’t even come close to why I, a committed Christian to the teachings of Christ, don’t attend church. In fact this is pretty typical of the common assumptions made by the clueless and out of touch evangelicals that don’t venture out of their four walls very often.

    1. I am not challenged by the things that come across from the pulpit. I find most of it to be shallow, and simply the regurgitation of popular aphorisms. I work in a spiritually hostile environment that is very anti-Christian and I need serious answers and encouragement. If I really want to find someone that challenges me I have often have to go to national speakers, which I can do at far more convenient times than Sunday morning. Also, pastor or pastors, I’m watching your life and reading your FB posts. I’m not seeing someone I wish to follow as they follow Christ.

    2. This is related to number one. I did church outreach for years and still do, of course I encourage the new believers I win to go to church, but for me, I found that church leadership had no problem loading me up with “chores” and burning me out in the process. Jesus said his yoke was light, why in the world do the pastoral staff keep adding more weight to that original burden? I started saying “no” to chores and people started questioning my commitment.

    3. Personal drama among the sheep. This one is the most forgivable since people will be people, but if your pulpit content is shallow, guess how the sheep are going to be? I will reach out to transgender\homosexual practitioners and if I wanted to bring someone in drag to church, most folks would freak and would not extend kindness and genuine love that Jesus does. So guess where I don’t want to bring someone that isn’t churchified.

    BTW – Stewardship is far more than Sunday a.m. services, and though for many this is a start, I am dismayed at how often it is seen and promoted as the end result of faithfulness.

    • Hi Tim… maybe the Lord is showing you the lack in the Body of Christ for you to have a part on it. Pray for God’s direction on how you can be a blessing to the Body of Christ where you are a part of when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

  8. Some people like me struggled to get anything out of the sermon and did not go too often when the choice became mine. Growing up going to church, albeit small, every Sunday I never heard a sermon that was age appropriate. Some of us heard conflicting statements because what was said in Sunday school did not sound like what was said in the sermon. Even attending a Christian university and attending chapel, I never heard a speaker say anything too useful. Why is there such a fear of saying something that someone could understand and put to use?

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