Getting People Back to Church / Christian Event Targeting ‘Apathetic’ Youth *BARF*
I have a few theories as to why people have stopped attending church regularly, which I won’t get into here.
I have brought up one reason before, which I shall summarize here: singles past the age of 30 are either ignored or treated horribly by churches, and churches tend to be very marriage obsessed which makes the never married, divorced, and widowed feel overlooked or like outcasts, so they stop showing up, and a big chunk of the US demographic is single these days.
If you don’t minister to the singles, they stop showing up, so yes, your pews are going to be half empty.
But there are, I believe, other reasons churches are not drawing in folks, and while I don’t care to discuss those reasons here and now, I can tell you that putting on laser shows and live rock bands on stage will not get them to come back and stay.
I cannot figure out why Christians are focusing on 20 somethings, when a steady stream of 30- somethings, the middle aged and older of BOTH GENDERS, have been filing out the back door of churches in big numbers over the last ten or more years?
The middle aged typically have more money than the 20 year old kids, and since many churches these days are greedy, money hungry pigs, you would think they would make this connection and work their asses off at seeking after the older adults.
This article mentions that Luce (Luce is a youth pastor type guy who I think I’ve blogged of before – he often gives stupid dating advice to Christian teens, advice that backfires and keeps them single many years (LINK:) Luce and his weird crummy sex and dating advice is mentioned in this post) is using rock bands, laser shows, and big video monitors to attract 20-somethings back to church (and/or to Christianity).
Oh good grief. Jesus Christ did not run a popularity contest, nor did Jesus put on rock band shows and wear flip flops with skinny jeans to attract people.
Jesus’ miracles were to prove His claims of deity and to fulfill OT prophecy, not to be a magic show to attract audiences.
One reason age 30 and older groups are turned off to church (and evangelical, Fundy, and Baptist expressions of Christianity) is for the some of the very same reasons the under- 30s are turned off: trying to get us to attend via slick marketing gimmicks, large video monitors, rock bands, preachers in skinny jeans and goatees – it comes off as insincere, shallow, fake, as trying too hard.
The striving to look cool has the opposite effect: it makes such churches and preachers LOOK LAME.
It will take more than a big video monitor and hip rock band to retain teens, 20 somethings, or anyone over age 30.
NATIONAL BACK TO CHURCH DAY SEPT 15
A few days ago there was some kind of national “Back to Church” day, with an official web site that was selling marketing materials to churches, such as t-shirts, placards, post cards with the “Back to Church” logo on it.
I’m not sure if these people are trying to reach atheists, or Christians who stopped going to church (who are referred to as “the un-churched”), or both.
(Note: I saw one post by a Christian who uses the term “de churched” to refer to Christians who no longer attend, but “un churched” to refer to atheists etc)
The consensus I saw on most blogs that discussed this is that this movement was trying to attract “the unchurched,” because it’s considered easier to get non church going Christians to return than it is convincing an atheist or Hindu to show up.
It is further discussed on such blogs that the main reason for the push to get the unchurched to return is for MONEY.
Many churches are losing money now, but so too in particular are many mega churches (and they need hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate), and they need pew sitters to toss cash into the collection plate.
The regular church attenders (according to one person who studies church trends and who used to work for a large church) do not tithe much and not regularly; most income a church gets is from ‘spur of the moment’ where one guy will drop a 20 dollar bill into a collection plate on a Sunday.
I know that sounds cynical, but if you could see some of the disgusting shit I have seen on spiritual abuse blogs, it is actually the NORM in our culture these days for most preachers and churches to care only about money – not the people in the pew.
You can read about this insipid National Back to Church day here:
(Link): 20,000 Churches Pledge to Participate in National Back to Church Sunday on September 15
- Event organizers announced today more than 20,000 churches will participate in National Back to Church Sunday®, achieving the ambitious target set for this year, doubling the goal of last year’s event.
Yes, this thing actually has the Registered Trademark symbol (®) behind it, too, that is in the original thing I am quoting, I did not add it. The article continues:
- “We believe there are millions of Americans who would welcome an invitation to come back to church, or who might be a bit curious about attending church for the first time,” Evans continued.
Citing research that about 80 percent of people would visit a church if someone they knew invited them, National Back to Church Sunday organizers started the event five years ago. It has grown exponentially since then as many churches who participate make it an annual event because of its impact on their congregations and communities.
Organizers set the 2013 participation goal at 20,000, twice the goal they set for last year, and a big step up from the nearly 14,000 churches that pledged to participate in 2012. With representation of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, most provinces in Canada, as well as many other countries, on September 15, millions of people will attend special church services designed to be welcoming to their communities, and will invite others to join them.
“Churches are eager to welcome people back to church, whether it’s back to church after a summer of travel or back to church after a lifetime,” Evans said.
At (Link): http://www.backtochurch.com, visitors to the site who are looking for a church to attend can check the roster to see what churches in their community are participating. Those considering locating a church to visit might also want to check out the Back to Church You Tube Channel and the Facebook page, which has garnered 60,000 likes in about seven weeks. …
Church leaders may also want to check the website for resources to help them promote the day in their communities. The site features videos produced to help promote and celebrate the day as well as free publicity materials and tips for using social media.
Other publicity resources are also available on the site to order as a download or print.
(Link): 1 Million People to Come ‘Back to Church’ This Sunday
- BY JEFF SCHAPIRO, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
September 14, 2013|9:02 am
More than one million people are expected to rediscover church this weekend during National Back to Church Sunday.
More than 20,000 churches are participating in the event, which was designed to empower church members to invite their friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers to attend a special worship service. That’s a drastic increase from the 13,100 churches that participated last year.
“I think probably the biggest reason it’s growing is because it’s working,” Scott Evans, founder and CEO of Outreach Inc., told The Christian Post. Outreach, a leading provider of church communications resources, is one of the founders of NBCS.
Churches that participated in the outreach effort last year reported their attendance jumped by an average of 38 percent on NBCS, said Evans. The event coincides with the fall “ministry season,” he says, when many churches typically plan evangelistic events or sermon series anyway.
Personally, as an “unchurched” person, I find articles like this one below offensive – just going by the title alone, mind you, as I’ve not read the article, but the idea that special tricks have to be done to get me to go back to church misses the point of why I am reluctant to go to start with:
(Link): How to Design a Message Series for Unchurched People
I have skimmed that page, and it makes me want to wretch. A lot of seeker friendly churches are already doing a lot of the bullet points on this list, and it’s cheesy. Here are some samples from the page:
- The problem with most message series is that they are focused on what the speaker wants to say, not what the listener wants to hear. If you only want to reach Christians, that’s a great strategy.
If you want to engage unchurched people, in my view, it’s a terrible strategy.
So where can you get ideas to find the angle? Obviously, you should talk to unchurched people…but in addition to that, here are five ways you can stay on top of what people in your culture and community are thinking about:
1. The Amazon Top 100 List. Check out the Top 100 of 2013 to see what your neighbours are already thinking about. Finding 6 books on eternity and near death experiences on the list caused me to create a 7 part series called “Afterlife”. The series resonated deeply because so many unchurched people were already investigating the issue on their own.
2. Movies. This doesn’t mean you have to do an “At the Movies” series, but it does mean what people are watching gives you a clue as to what they are thinking. Horror movies are perennially popular. I really don’t like horror movies personally, but in crafting a series for 2014 on evil, I’m going to make sure we cover our culture’s ambiguous attitude toward evil: on the one hand we dismiss it, on the other hand we simply can’t.
You’re honestly trying to entice me back to a weekly church service by telling the preacher to drop pop culture references into his sermons, basically. No thank you.
(Link): What is keeping more than 60 percent of Americans out of the pews?
- Compiled by Matthew Brown, Deseret News
Published: Monday, Sept. 16 2013 3:40 p.m. MDT
Church attendance likely bumped up across the country this past Sunday in response to the annual Back to Church initiative.
The Back to Church Sunday outreach effort was supported by nearly 21,500 churches, according to Christianity Today.
Supporters of the movement told the Deseret News last year that if Christians invite a friend to attend church with them it can be “more far-reaching than a blip in attendance at a time when statistics show rolls at Protestant faiths around the country are thinning and only a small percentage of Christians are willing to share their faith with non-churchgoers.”
They hope their outreach can also shore up the faith of the regular churchgoer as well as attract new believers.
Worship service attendance has roughly stayed the same the past 10 years, at just under 40 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. And there is plenty of research exploring what is keeping more than 60 percent of Americans out of the pews.
Recent coverage has pointed the finger at competing activities, such as sports, shopping and other entertainment, that lure people away from worship services.
But Steve McMullin, an associate professor at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada, doesn’t agree. He told the Christian Post that his research indicates something else is going on within the churches, not outside, that’s pushing people away.
“My sociological analysis of the data from the congregations in the study indicates that it is not external factors, such as Sunday sports, but instead it is internal factors, including an unwillingness (on behalf of churches) to change, that has had the biggest effect,” McMullin said.
He told the Christian Post that the change churches are not willing to embrace that would have the largest impact on attendance is adding additional worship times outside of Sunday mornings.
His study, “The Secularization of Sunday: Real or Perceived Competition for Churches,” was published in the Review of Religious Research (which charges a fee to access the entire study).
I am skeptical that any marketed, gimmicky “back to church” holiday, complete with bumper stickers and T-shirts with logos, will get people to return to church and stay.