O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
(Hear It Now)
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research documents, from various sources, that church attendance may be less than we thought it to be.
“For years, the Gallup Research Organization has come up with a consistent figure—40 percent of all Americans, or roughly 118 million people, said they attended worship on the previous weekend. Recently, sociologists of religion have questioned that figure, saying Americans tend to exaggerate how often they attend. By actually counting the number of people who showed up at a representative sample of churches, two researchers, Kirk Hadaway and Penny Marler found that only 20.4 percent of the population, or half the Gallup figure, attended church each weekend.”
Does this revised statistic alarm anyone else? Why is it so hard for we Christians to get our bones out of bed and go to church? Heaven knows the American church (generally speaking) is making it as attractive and user friendly as it possibly can be for folks to attend.
The perks for going to church?
- free coffee
- free carbohydrates
- “my” music
- come as you are dress codes
- kids programs that rival Chucky Cheese
- greeters who accompany people from their car to the sanctuary (in a few places)
- soft talk about hard issues
- entertaining pastors
- really cool lighting, great sound, and mesmerizing videos
While we harp about “the evils of marketing the church” every chance we get, I truly believe that the reality is that we must market it to turn passive, marginally “Oh yeah, I believe in God” people into passionate and connected Christians. It is not a bad thing that we’re trying to get people into our churches. So why aren’t they coming, or coming more regularly?
It may be that the church, eager to gain numbers, has missed the point of worship—the adoration of something or someone. We were wired to do that, but, at best, we focus most of that energy on “pop heroes” and sometimes even well-intentioned pastors.
To adore you, for example, and have you really believe it, I would probably have to prove it to you—right? What would be some signs of my adoration?
- I couldn’t wait to be with you
- I would wake up every morning and go to bed every night thinking about you
- I would linger at your feet
- I would follow you around until I could “taste” your dust
- I would rather talk to you than eat
- I would want to please you before I take care of my own needs
- I would want everyone I’ve ever met to know you too
- Is that how we in the church feel about God? At church conferences, after service coffees, and in Christian homes I hear a lot more about loving our churches than about loving our Creator.
In my Rotary Club (an affiliation in which I just recently enlisted) they refer to God as their “Higher Power” (HP) in prayers. The question for all kinds of believers in a HP is, “Higher than what?”
O come, let us adore Him!
Have a Blessed and Faithful Christmas!
Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of “deep trench” worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. has been a consultant to church leaders for 35 years and is anxious to be helpful to you in leadership, musical, and staffing considerations. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling.
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