Skip to comments.How come more people donít go to church?
Posted on 04/06/2013 3:19:57 PM PDT by NYer
It may not be the reason you think.
The Rev. Stephen Fichter understood just how dominant a role sports has assumed in the culture when a family told him they would be out of town Good Friday to Easter Sunday to attend their child’s volleyball tournament.
“It’s truly sports that has become like the religion” for many people, said Fichter, a researcher and the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Haworth, N.J.
From youth travel teams to big-time national festivals such as the Final Four, sports have been making increasing inroads in the busy lives of many Americans. Some scholars even trace the evolution of sports from pastime to a form of civil religion to now having become almost a folk religion.
And it is having an impact on religious groups, which report increasing difficulty convincing families that are willing to spend half a day traveling to a 9-year-old’s softball or soccer game to make time for worship services.
Some congregations are meeting the challenge by offering alternative service times and their own sports teams and programs. But many despair of their ability to compete in a culture increasingly consumed by athletics, with its multi-million dollar idols and its own sacred relics. Witness the Babe Ruth jersey that sold last year for $4.4 million.
In a study of 16 declining congregations in the U.S. and Canada, the reason most cited by clergy and members for falling attendance was the secularization of Sunday, with many identifying children’s sports as most responsible. Researcher Stephen McMullin of Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia reported the findings in the current issue of the Review of Religious Research.
“(Parents) will make sure Johnny goes to sports, but when it comes to church, I’ve just seen it over and over again, and even in our own congregation, the families that have children in sport will sacrifice church for the sake of their son or daughter’s sports program, so sports is another huge reason why our church is declining,” one pastor said.
There were few Easter Christians, individuals who show up for worship one or two days a year, among the earliest followers of the faith.
Facing penalties “like hanging — that tends to clear the head,” the Rev. Aidan Kavanagh, the late liturgy professor at Yale Divinity School, dryly observed.
Christians in the United States no longer need fear persecution for missing services. Demanding schedules, many of which revolve around youth sports, are the new competition for congregations.
Fichter surveyed 341 Catholics in one congregation who reported attending only on Easter and Christmas. He said he thought many people would cite disagreement with church teachings or negative experiences. But only 7 percent of respondents gave either of those reasons.
More than two-thirds said the reason they attend only twice a year was that they were too busy with other commitments. Sixteen percent admitted they were lazy. Fichter reported the findings at the joint annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association.
Until they decide their children are ready to make their First Communion. That year, they show up for all the religious education classes and attend weekly mass. After First Communion, they are gone.
I’m single and when I go to church I feel a little odd sitting by myself. Not to makes excuses but often I don’t go because of it.
Can't find an interesting preacher that does not repeat the same thing I've heard a gazillion times.
I don’t go because I’m lazy and don’t appreciate the English, hand shaking, guitar playing, layman giving out communion, the altar turned around. It is a mockery of the mass of my youth.
Lame snacks (if any) and no beer.
Churches have become places that have stopped discipling and are now, often, just places to collect tithes and condemn behaviours.
What a cop out. I am sure, if you looked hard, you can find a .Church that suits you.
Im guessing here, but I think numerous factors are in play. Society is changing. There is the obvious push by government to destroy Christian religion; Islam, not so much. Then theres competing entertainment and phones. My friends kids wont even pick up the phone when their dad calls them. They text only. They seem disassociated in many ways and Im certain that affects their religious life as well. Also, everything runs at a frantic pace and who, in the younger group, can sit still for two hours in church these days? And, what is the perceived value of religion to youth? I dont think theyre really interested in their immortal soul. I cant find anything that passes for philosophical thought from the younger people Ive talked to. Theyve been programed to feel and, I think theyre mostly more selfish than we were at their age. I dont think religion is connecting with people below the age of 30. Thoughts?
Most of us first learned of God from our parents, who brought us up in the church. Now children pretty much fend for themselves, best I can tell. The hysterical busy-ness and increasing isolation of parents and children precludes formation of familial ties. Church, manners, love of country, caring about others...all lost.
America, please go to church with your families tomorrow. Soon you may not have the opportunity. As in Europe in the 1930’s, lights are going out.
The Bible home study groups we (my wife and I) went to seemed too "pre-packaged commercial" stuff. It was like participating in a TV talk show.
Some time ago I read a column on how churches seem to be female-oriented, geared to what women want. It sure seems that way to this guy.
I had no clue God requires you to worship Him with a companion in tow. Maybe obama worshippers because obama is a fag anyways..
The story of man is...going back to the Old Testament...people worship God and life goes well, they get lazy and stop worshiping God, and everything falls apart until they start worshiping God again. You also have to consider the Catholic Church (my church) broke the public trust.
It's obvious Americans haven't been focused on God and everything is falling apart.
I speak only for myself: I go to church very regularly, but I can understand why a lot of people do not. The hypocrisy is so bad that it is tough to sit through the service and the main goal of a lot of churches boils down to “contributions”, not theology or religious teaching. The Episcopal Church USA is a prime example.
There is very little behavior condemning at a typical Catholic Mass. Also, not too much push for bigger donations.
I think children's activities (not just sports) coupled with a very real sense of being stretched too thin is the reason many families don't attend every week. Even if your child is in sports you can generally make the Vigil or the 7 am Mass, but when Church is seen as just one more thing, those Masses are too much trouble. We Catholics need to turn the focus back to the Eucharist.
I don’t go because of all the pedophilia associated with it in the news. Clean up your act Vatican and I will go back. I want to clarify, I don’t need a building to read my bible in.
I believe the Catholic Church has been undermined by the homosexuals to rot the religion from the inside. The same is being done to our constitution right now. Come to think of it, by a guy who has been accused of being known as ‘Bath House Barry’ in some parts of Chicago. His church was a well known matchmaker of homosexual men (4 mysteriously murdered associated with BB) with women for marriage.
But that’s not the way it is being covered in the news.
Several reasons, but two primary ones, IMHO.
God was removed from public schools.
Stores and the invention of shopping malls are now open on Sundays.
Max- you’re right being single should be no excuse for not worshipping God in church which I greatly enjoy. I’d feel more comfortable if someone were with me. Just speaking from personal experience since NYer asked.
Check out an early morning Catholic Mass. Usually no singing, and 4 guaranteed different Bible passages each week - OT, Psalms, NT, and Gospel. If you get the right priest, you may even hear a good sermon and be outtathere in a little over half an hour.
I too am single and, oftentimes, sit by myself. My purpose in going to church is to worship God. When I see others sitting by themselves, I go over, introduce myself and thank them for joining us that day. One woman broke down in tears, saying that, up until then, no one had ever made her feel welcome in any church. She, and a few other single women, are now my pew partners. Give it a try! You may discover a new friend in the process.
When God was eliminated from the classroom, children could not learn of our Christian heritage. At one time children could encourage their parents to attend church.
Why should people go to church when they hear that many churches are “changing” with the times? God’s Word does not change, only our attitudes.
Maybe because it's full of so-called 'Christians' who call gay people "queers" and "fags..."
And full of 'Christians' who insinuate that those who suffer from mental illness are "Satanic..."
And full of 'Christians' who call those who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings "losers."
Oh wait, that's some of the Christians here at FR.
oops. meant each day.
The purpose of gathering in church on Sunday is to worship God. If you have heard the sermon a gazillion times before, it may well be the first time someone else, absent for a long time, is hearing it. Rejoice in the knowledge that you still have a church in which to worship God. Given the secularism of our contemporary society, those days may soon come to an end. Go! Do it out of love for our Savior!. He never promised good sermons.
"gay people"? Oh yes, the historical term used by Homer, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Joyce. Gay people, indeed! How about the scientific term 'pederasts'?
My bad as well, as I am guessing you are a lady and Ok with that excuse. :)
I stopped going to church because Christianity or what it used to be, has been over-run with money grubbers, marxists, and homosexual agenda supporters.
I am tired of the churches trying to raise money from me to run “outreach” programs for the poor and for missions in places that turn out to be marxist crapholes.
Further, they are unwilling from the pulpit to condemn islam, and to attack its tenets directly.
So I walked. I get the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons who come to my door and I ask them about islam and their willingness to go forth as christian soldiers. They are not. So, I will not participate, nor will I fund institutions which do not follow the bible, nor attack marxism or islam.
I hear ya - some of the parents in my 1st grade religious-ed class bring the child to class, but skip Mass! We have class every Sunday between the two morning Masses. Not the child’s fault, but there are times when I would love to teach the parents in class instead!
We demand to be entertained, 24x7, and church doesn’t even do that well once a week on Sunday morning. I remember when entertainment was reserved for the weekends. It is now everywhere, all the time, low attention span, earphones, smartphones, which so many swear by, telling us about needing them for emergencies, used mostly if not exclusively for entertainment.
I think sports is more symptom than cause.
The biggest single reason for the decline in faith is secular schooling. If homeschooling was widespread, our faith lives would be much improved.
When did attending church on Sunday turn into entertainment? The purpose of attending Church is to worship God. Jesus commands us to celebrate the Eucharist by saying "do this in memory of me." Scripture says "Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.
If you went to church more often you’d know that a) the Latin Mass is becoming more widely available now. The mass of your youth, and I’m not talking about those SSPX break offs.
Try and see if there is a parish run by priests from the Fraternal Order of St. PEter’s — fully in Communion with the Vatican.
Or if there isn’t one in your area in some parts of the country (particularly the north east, but also out west and other places) try eastern Rite Catholics — again, they are fully in Communion with Rome, and make the old High latin Mass lame by comparison. Ukrainian Rite, Maronites, etc. only the priest administers Communion, and not a guitar within a zillion miles.
Solid preaching from all these, and no hand shaking business.
If you don’t have any of these options, always try the early Mass Sunday morning. No guitars, and easy enough to sit apart from people if you don’t like passing germs handshakes. If you look around you should be able to find one to suit.
Ask yourself: Was Jesus Christ too lazy to die on a cross for you? If the answer is “no, He was not too lazy” then you ought to say thank you at least once a week by getting up off your butt and get it to Mass to say thank you and worship Him. You are letting the devil cut you off from the sacraments by giving you excuses. Come home.
I GO TO CHURCH TO WORSHIP GOD, MY LORD AND SAVOR. I go for me! I go to a Bible believing, King James Bible Preaching church. The church I go to there are no clicks, everyone is equal and everyone is welcome be it the first time or those who faith full attend. I miss the fellowship of my Brothers and Sisters in Christ when I am not there, which isn’t often. People can and will find all kinds of excuses, I’ve just read several. Phooey, an excuse is what you make it or want it to be. I do shy away from the mega Churches, I shy away from “feel good” preachers. I want to hear the truth, I want to often times feel uncomfortable, Is God talking to me through the Preacher. As for singing, “Make a joyful noise,” you’ll feel better. Go to church!!!!!
In the news. IN THE NEWS. IN THE NEWS! So MSM is good for something after all, isn't it. Having a cake and eating it, too!
Last week and this week it will be because I don't feel like sharing.
I have pneumonia.
If you read the Bible you will know that only about 1/3 of the entire population is saved.
Every knee will bow, and all will confess that Jesus is Lord, but they might come to that realization a bit too late- and there will be great gnashing of teeth.
I really don’t think much of this guy’s idea. People don’t go mainly because the church simply isn’t important to them. If it wasn’t ball games it would most certainly be something else, like needinf extra sleep or it being the only time of week they can get to the grocery store.
The truth is that we have become conditioned to believe that we should be entertained in all things. Why go to church? Yes, to worship God but also to promote community amongst believers. We are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. If we as a whole do not meet, how can we know who needs our support, who needs our prayer? When I sit in the congregation, they may be playing music that I don’t particularly care for but I sing anyway. Why? Because I know that I may be uplifting someone else with my worship. I frequently don’t get a great deal out of the message. I find that God gives me greater insight when I’m in the Word for an extended period of time. He speaks through His word. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten great insights from time to time. So, in short, why go? Because it honors God, sometimes lifts our spirits and ministers to those around us. It’s not all about ourselves.
Not to make excuses either, I go two to three times with my wife and kids. We homeschool and sometimes they’ll go to our homestate to be with our parents for 2-3 weeks. I have a hard time going without my wife, so often I don’t during those weeks she’s gone.
HOW early? We really liked our church before we moved...first service started around 8am...that way we were in and out by 9:30....and had the rest of the day. PLUS, it was a PCA Presbyterian church....VERY conservative.
I would have no interest in Christianity if all I had to go by it were posters from FR.
Dear friend, learning our christian heritage begins in the home, certainly not in the classroom. It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in the faith. One look around you is reason enough.
Why should people go to church when they hear that many churches are changing with the times? Gods Word does not change, only our attitudes.
Martin Luther opened Pandora's box when he said anyone, even a milkmaid, could interpret scripture. Since then, thousands of churches have sprung up, all claiming to hold the Truth. Only one church has remained unchanged and that is the one founded by Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church is the only one that still proclaims the truths of the faith entrusted to Peter. Check it out .. you may just find your way back home.
Do you realize the irony of your statement. You, a male, complain about how churches seem to cater to women, but then you, the male, don’t go. If the churches cater to women because so many of them DO have more women showing up, then maybe YOU are the crux of the problem. I am very happy to say that my husband and I have just joined a church - left our other church after 24 years - that is very strong with male leadership. There are tons of men there. It’s time you found a church and started pitching in. If you are a true disciple of Christ, you can do nothing less.
Nita, when I hear people make comments such as yours, I always wish they would actually list the NAME and ADDRESS of the church that did these things, because I’m not sure I believe it. I have belonged to the same church for 24 years and attend every single weekend. We finally switched churches and at neither have I ever heard anything even remotely close to what you have written here. Also, we like to visit some churches, too. We have visited several of our friends’ churches in the summer time. We have also planted two churches and attended one for two years and the other for one year.
I think people “think” this stuff is preached. And maybe there is some church somwhere like the one that Fred Phelps runs - of course, I don’t consider that a Christian church, but a cult...so you need to broaden your horizons some. Ask people. They’ll let you know.
Amen, Scoutdad. I remember many years ago, I was in a situation where I had to take calls from people hurting financially who were wanting “help” of all sorts. None of them had a church. My church has all kinds of ways they help people struggling with financial needs and every other kind of need. There are ministries to help fix things for widows and single moms; ministries to help single moms; ministries for the elderly and those in nursing homes...in fact, so many, I couldn’t even begin to NAME them. THIS is the CHURCH. People are missing out on the greatest community of all...the community of believers.
That was my experience when I served as Director for Religious Education. One year, a new mother decided to sign up her 13 year old daughter for religious education. Asked about previous classes she had attended, the mother said "none". To compound matters, the child had been baptized in a hospital and made First Communion but not First Penance. Since this was a small parish, I felt the best approach was to work with the child, one on one, using the Baltimore Catechism. A few weeks into the program, another mother saw the catechism in a pew, picked it up and exclaimed she had never learned any of this and could I teach her!
You are absolutely right! The problem is less the children and more the parents who were never properly catechized in the first place. There are a wealth of programs now to educate parents but, unless they are done at a time convenient for the mother, it's nothing more than wheel spinning.
To counter this problem, I now use the weekly bulletin to educate everyone via a column on the Year of Faith.
Nita is simply stirring the pot for a little reaction.