Many people who attend church love doing so. They love the community, the fellowship, the preaching, the opportunities for their children, and so on. However, some people, if they’re honest… well, they don’t love it so much. Their church attendance is getting more and more inconsistent, and they don’t seem all that connected anymore.
If some were brutally honest, they might even say they hate going altogether. Obviously, this isn’t good! Let’s look at five reasons people might hate going to church — and what you can do to improve their experience.
1. Services Aren’t Easy to Follow
Every church has a liturgy. It could be formal, following a prescribed liturgical calendar, or as informal as sketching out the service order five minutes before it starts. Whatever your liturgy, here’s the thing: it’s familiar and quite comfortable for you and your congregation, but can visitors easily follow along?
Elements of your service that are confusing, poorly executed, or not well explained can create discomfort and confusion for your guests. Discomfort and confusion can be big factors in pushing people away. Make sure the order of service, as well as traditions followed, are explained clearly in your bulletin or handouts.
2. They Feel Unwelcome
Visitors can feel unwelcome in your place of worship for a number of reasons, but it’s a particular danger if your church is rather homogeneous (racially, culturally, or economically). While part of the beauty of church is its ability to create love between people who don’t have much in common otherwise, it can still feel isolating to attend a church where you stick out like a sore thumb.
This can be overcome fairly easily. Make it a point to welcome all visitors and make them feel at home. When they see how friendly and welcoming you are, they will be more likely to enjoy attending your services in the future.
3. The Church (or the Leadership) Feels Fake
Everyone appreciates authenticity. People—especially Millennials—are better at spotting fakery and inauthenticity than we’d like to think. But some church leaders, fresh off reading the latest church growth strategies, try very hard to be something they are not.
It could be the 40-something pastor trying way too hard to look and sound like a Millennial, or it could be the storied church with a majestic 200-year-old sanctuary trying to shoehorn in a modern worship band. The bottom line is this: many people hate going to church when, for any number of reasons, the people and the experience don’t feel genuine.
4. The Church Seems Stuck in the Past
Church consultant Steve McSwain makes the point that a church that’s badly out of step with the times will often struggle with church attendance. If visitors get the impression that your place of worship is stuck in the past, that could cause them to move on to a church that’s better suited to their modern lives.
Now, I’m not talking about old, storied churches with historic and beautiful buildings. Rather, I’m thinking of equipment, events, or decor that have remained unchanged since the 1970s. People will wonder whether the message and people are also out of step.
5. They’re Stuck with Inconvenient, Clunky Giving Methods
I admit, “hate” might be too strong a word here, but only allowing people to give using cash or checks is outdated and truly unnecessary, given new options that are available. People who come intending to give but end up unprepared will feel embarrassed, and maybe even like they aren’t really a part of the congregation.
The solution? Implement mobile giving, which is effortless to use and fits with the way they live life outside the church walls (think mobile banking, online shopping, and so forth). Your more technologically savvy members and visitors will be grateful that you considered their wants and needs, and will have one more reason to love coming to your services.
Is your church getting tripped up by any of these pitfalls? Consider whether there are any changes you can make today that would settle these church attendance excuses.