Four Key Attitudes That Are Killing Church Attendance

November 19, 2018
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There has been much written on declining attendance in churches. Specifically, many of us have addressed the issue of attendance frequency where even “active” church members attend less frequently.

Many pundits have rightly observed the impact of culture on the church, where church is, at best, just another activity. We have also addressed the issue of increasing choices. Many church members and attendees have so many opportunities to do other activities, and they can often afford them like never before. Still others note the increasing numbers of people working on Sunday, precluding them from attending worship services that day. Even more lament the reality that many children’s sports have been moved to Sundays.

These reasons are sound. But behind many of these reasons are attitudinal issues. These attitudinal issues are really the sources of the problem. And there are four attitudes in particular that have a devastating effect on church attendance.

  1. The attitude that church membership is not biblical. One commenter on this blog challenged me: “Show me where church membership is in the Bible.” I asked her to check 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul said clearly, we are members of the body of Christ. He wrote that letter to a local church in a local community. You might argue that many churches have adapted cultural forms of church membership, where it looks more like a country club membership or a civic club membership. Probably so. But don’t take those biblical deviations to be an excuse not to practice biblical church membership.
  2. The attitude that we are part of a church primarily to get our needs met. It is this attitude that causes much division in the church. We demand our own worship style, our preferred order of worship, and the building to be built, painted, and arranged just as we demand. But we are to be functioning members of the body of Christ for the greater good of the body. If you have any lingering doubts, read Philippians 2:1-4. Look at verse 3 in particular: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves.” Take that verse to your next church business meeting.
  3. The attitude that church leaders are not held to a higher standard. I hear it again and again from pastors and church staff. It’s frustrating that many church members have a lackadaisical attitude about church attendance. But it’s exponentially more frustrating when deacons, elders, and other church leaders do not set the example, when they attend infrequently and demonstrate low commitment. Take a few moments to read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 to see clearly that church leaders are indeed held to a higher standard.
  4. The attitude that expectation of faithful church attendance is legalistic. For sure, we can turn any admonition into a legalistic trap. But God gave us the gathered body to encourage and love one another. Look at Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

We shouldn’t take breaks from our church family any more than we should take breaks from our own family. We are to serve, to love, to encourage and, simply said, to be there.

Declining church attendance has at its core unbiblical attitudes.

It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.

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73 Comments

  • The Lord Jesus bless you, Mr. Rainer,

    I read your article looking for the reasons of local church membership. Of particular importance are the Scripture citations, so I examined 1 Corinthians 12. But, first I consider your third point about church leaders.

    In response to you mentioning “church leaders”, I will quote the Word of God “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, [that is], Christ” (Matthew 23:10). Since the One True Lord Jesus Christ decisively stated that He is the One Leader in the same sentence that He commanded “do not be called leaders”, then this begs the question “who are the local church leaders?” Since the “church leaders” are NOT doing the words of Jesus, which is critical because He said “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted [accordingly], is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49). Jesus tells us a beleiver doing what Jesus says demonstrates who owns the affections of the beleiver! King Jesus tells us “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Who are false prophets? The answer: those who claim to to be Jesus’, saying things like “He is in the inner rooms” (Matthew 24:26) such as the church building, yet they do not do what Jesus says. Jesus said “do not be called leaders”, so every person identifying as a “church leader” violates the Word of God. I have no leader within the Body of Christ save the Lord Jesus, for Christ is my Leader.

    You mentioned “Take a few moments to read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 to see clearly that church leaders are indeed held to a higher standard.” But, when 1 Timothy 3:1-13 is taken with the words of Master Jesus Christ “he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:21), we find that the Apostle Paul enumerated fruits of the Spirit for such things are wrought in God; therefore, Paul’s enumeration shows what an elder within the Assembly of God looks like, for God ordains the elder (a person wrought in God), man only points out the elder (for example, for the edification of new believers). In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, in the origninal Greek manuscripts, you will not find leader nor bishop nor pastor, rather we find episkopon in Greek which translates to overseer or elder which denotes a more mature person in the faith given by God. The elder is visible as the one walking in Jesus’ steps (1 Peter 2:21).

    In your first point, you wrote, “I asked her to check 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul said clearly, we are members of the body of Christ.” So I read 1 Corinthians 12, again. And God brought this to my attention “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This indicates all beleivers are part of God’s Assembly everywhere. The body of Christ without division, as in “there may be no division in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25). Before going on, we should examine to whom the First Letter to the Corinthians was written “To the assembly of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The Apostle Paul did not write “to the local church of God”; rather, Paul made it clear the saints in Corinth are members of the assembly of God with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in one Spirit there is the one assembly of God; otherwise, Paul could not have written “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4). While assemblers assemble at various geographical locations and times, the Assembly of God remains one assembly, one Body of Christ. 1st Corinthians does not support “local church membership” because “local church membership” does not equal “assembling together”. There is a personal element to hospitality (Romans 12:13) when the assembly of God gathers in homes (Acts 2:46) to worship God, make supplication to God, sing praises to God, and share in communion with God!

    At the moment of conversion into a beleiver of the Christ, the new beleiver is joined as a member of God’s Assembly. No further action to join anything is required because the beleiver is already joined, and fellowship occurs where 2 or more gather because the Lord Jesus is with us (Matthew 18:20).

    The Greek word “topikos” translates to the English word “local”, yet the Greek word “topikos” does not occur in any of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The “local church” doctrine centered on a word that fails to occur in Scripture is problematic at best, but it gets downright devious as the man-created doctrine of “local church” contains further complications separating from the Word of God. As to the English word “church”, we find that the Greek word “ekklesia” as the source word in the original Greek manuscripts; however, “ekklesia” is composed of two root words which are (1) “ek” meaning “out” and (2) klesia” meaning “called”, thus the Greek “ekklesia” translates to “out-called” or “called-out” or “assembly”. As is plainly evident, “ekklesia” does not translate to “church”, or else a significant problem occurs with the passage about an angry unbelieving mob in Acts Chapeter 19 verses 23-41 in which the Greek word “ekklesia” is translated to “assembly” in 32, 39, and 41 (clearly, the mob is not the Assembly of God). These are the only places in the New Testament that “ekklesia” is translated to “assembly” in the NASB, ESV, NIV, and KJV. Bringing these points together, neither “local” nor “church” appear in the original Greek manuscripts. A primary definition of “church” is “A building for public, especially Christian worship”, and a definition 1.a. of “assembly” is “The act of assembling”. The two fail the test of equality; moreover, house of God and church building are not synonymous. Master Jesus was a carpenter, and being God, He is the Master of carpentry, too. Interestingly, He never left us a blueprint for a church building nor church pulpit in the New Testament, not even anything like the Tabernacle in the Book of Exodus. The man-created doctrine of “local church” expands into further doctrinal deviation from the Word of God that include dangerous things such as (1) church buildings [as in “going to church”], (2) church membership [as in the official written catalog/roster and oath agreements], and (3) church leadership [authority of man].

    Hyperlink references for the above paragraph had to be removed to enable posting.

    Mr. Rainer, I wrote so much more on these matters, but because it is such an expansive topic I leave this link for, I hope, further discussion:

    http://JesusDelivers.Faith/

    May the Father of light rest His countenance upon you and yours,
    Kermos

  • The Lord Jesus bless you, Mr. Rainer,

    I read your article looking for the reasons of local church membership. Of particular importance are the Scripture citations, so I examined 1 Corinthians 12. But, first I consider your third point about church leaders.

    In response to you mentioning “church leaders”, I will quote the Word of God “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, [that is], Christ” (Matthew 23:10). Since the One True Lord Jesus Christ decisively stated that He is the One Leader in the same sentence that He commanded “do not be called leaders”, then this begs the question “who are the local church leaders?” Since the “church leaders” are NOT doing the words of Jesus, which is critical because He said “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted [accordingly], is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49). Jesus tells us a beleiver doing what Jesus says demonstrates who owns the affections of the beleiver! King Jesus tells us “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Who are false prophets? The answer: those who claim to to be Jesus’, saying things like “He is in the inner rooms” (Matthew 24:26) such as the church building, yet they do not do what Jesus says. Jesus said “do not be called leaders”, so every person identifying as a “church leader” violates the Word of God. I have no leader within the Body of Christ save the Lord Jesus, for Christ is my Leader.

    You mentioned “Take a few moments to read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 to see clearly that church leaders are indeed held to a higher standard.” But, when 1 Timothy 3:1-13 is taken with the words of Master Jesus Christ “he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:21), we find that the Apostle Paul enumerated fruits of the Spirit for such things are wrought in God; therefore, Paul’s enumeration shows what an elder within the Assembly of God looks like, for God ordains the elder (a person wrought in God), man only points out the elder (for example, for the edification of new believers). In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, in the origninal Greek manuscripts, you will not find leader nor bishop nor pastor, rather we find episkopon in Greek which translates to overseer or elder which denotes a more mature person in the faith given by God. The elder is visible as the one walking in Jesus’ steps (1 Peter 2:21).

    In your first point, you wrote, “I asked her to check 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul said clearly, we are members of the body of Christ.” So I read 1 Corinthians 12, again. And God brought this to my attention “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This indicates all beleivers are part of God’s Assembly everywhere. The body of Christ without division, as in “there may be no division in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25). Before going on, we should examine to whom the First Letter to the Corinthians was written “To the assembly of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The Apostle Paul did not write “to the local church of God”; rather, Paul made it clear the saints in Corinth are members of the assembly of God with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in one Spirit there is the one assembly of God; otherwise, Paul could not have written “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4). While assemblers assemble at various geographical locations and times, the Assembly of God remains one assembly, one Body of Christ. 1st Corinthians does not support “local church membership” because “local church membership” does not equal “assembling together”. There is a personal element to hospitality (Romans 12:13) when the assembly of God gathers in homes (Acts 2:46) to worship God, make supplication to God, sing praises to God, and share in communion with God!

    At the moment of conversion into a beleiver of the Christ, the new beleiver is joined as a member of God’s Assembly. No further action to join anything is required because the beleiver is already joined, and fellowship occurs where 2 or more gather because the Lord Jesus is with us (Matthew 18:20).

    The Greek word “topikos” translates to the English word “local”, yet the Greek word “topikos” does not occur in any of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The “local church” doctrine centered on a word that fails to occur in Scripture is problematic at best, but it gets downright devious as the man-created doctrine of “local church” contains further complications separating from the Word of God. As to the English word “church”, we find that the Greek word “ekklesia” as the source word in the original Greek manuscripts; however, “ekklesia” is composed of two root words which are (1) “ek” meaning “out” and (2) klesia” meaning “called”, thus the Greek “ekklesia” translates to “out-called” or “called-out” or “assembly”. As is plainly evident, “ekklesia” does not translate to “church”, or else a significant problem occurs with the passage about an angry unbelieving mob in Acts Chapeter 19 verses 23-41 in which the Greek word “ekklesia” is translated to “assembly” in 32, 39, and 41 (clearly, the mob is not the Assembly of God). These are the only places in the New Testament that “ekklesia” is translated to “assembly” in the NASB, ESV, NIV, and KJV. Bringing these points together, neither “local” nor “church” appear in the original Greek manuscripts. A primary definition of “church” is “A building for public, especially Christian worship”, and a definition 1.a. of “assembly” is “The act of assembling”. The two fail the test of equality; moreover, house of God and church building are not synonymous. Master Jesus was a carpenter, and being God, He is the Master of carpentry, too. Interestingly, He never left us a blueprint for a church building nor church pulpit in the New Testament, not even anything like the Tabernacle in the Book of Exodus. The man-created doctrine of “local church” expands into further doctrinal deviation from the Word of God that include dangerous things such as (1) church buildings [as in “going to church”], (2) church membership [as in the official written catalog/roster and oath agreements], and (3) church leadership [authority of man].

    References for the above paragraph:
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2019%3A23-41&version=NASB;KJV
    https://biblehub.com/acts/19-32.htm
    https://biblehub.com/acts/19-39.htm
    https://biblehub.com/acts/19-41.htm
    https://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm
    https://www.thefreedictionary.com/church
    https://www.thefreedictionary.com/assembly

    Mr. Rainer, I wrote so much more on these matters, but because it is such an expansive topic I leave this link for, I hope, further discussion:

    http://JesusDelivers.Faith/

    May the Father of light rest His countenance upon you and yours,
    Kermos

  • This is a good article, but I have some input: I think. in 1 Cor 12 where it says we are members of the body of Christ: To me, this is Paul (or God through Paul) providing an example of the human body and it’s members and comparing it to the church and it’s members doesn’t constitute official required membership (like on paper or in front of the entire congregation) like you see it in many churches today. I think the example of what happens spiritually in the church, not compulsory. I think back to when I became a Christian in 1981 and the one who led me to Christ then gave me a copy of the church beliefs and said this is what you need to know to be a member. It was so overwhelming I found another church. All I knew was that I was a christian and I had this wonderful huge 66 book Bible a had to / got to learn, which was already overwhelming, I couldn’t handle anything more. To me at that point I thought I have the Bible, why would I need anything more…. …. Another issue I have with many dying churches today is a lack of balance In worship. Most dying churches are stuck on hymns. The Scripture is clear worship should be in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5: 19, Col 3: 16). I personally found about 75 places in the Psalms where I’ve seen it put to music. Hymnals are ample and easily identifiable. To me Spiritual Songs are best seen in contemporary Christian music. To me,most of this new music is a movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church and it’s a fresh move. I don’t know what church wouldn’t want to be a part of a fresh move of God. But Scripturally, a balance is required. Finally, it’s been said. Want to see a growing church? Take a look at the emphasis the church puts on evangelism and I’ll show you a growing church. Just my two cents. May God bless you richly. John Mertens.

  • TED"FORDMAN" EHRHARDT says on

    Fordmanted says- I have read some comments that make sense and others that seem to excuse what we as Chistians should do or not do. Church or religion will never save us from ourselves or others. Only when we repent of our sins and want CHRIST into our lives will we begin to become the New Person that GOD promised us we would become. With that salvation comes the Comforter(Holy Spirit) who will guide and give us the wisdom and undrstanding that we need to live the life of Christ. Only then will we be empowered with the Authority that CHRIST gave us to heal the sick and affected,raise the dead and heal the oppressed. With God’s Grace and the given faith will any of this happen. It is not thru our own doing; but thru the Grace of God. Thank You Jesus for saving my sinful soul and saving me from myself in my latter years. We seriously need revivals and a return to what God’s Word tells us to do and believe.

  • Jim Guilford says on

    Point #3 can be expanded beyond the visibly noticeable lack of deacons, elders and church leaders of being held to a higher standard to include those items which are not visible. The quality of their devotional life, financial faithfulness of giving and loose lips.

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