Why Are People Not Returning to Worship?

By Brenda Jank

Are people not returning to worship at your church? 
It’s rampant and it’s common.
Since God promises to bring good from all things, let’s seize this reality as an opportunity to mine for gems.
What does God have for us in what some are calling a Divine Disruption?
I believe the answer is, “a lot.”

There are many reasons why people are not returning to worship, but let’s focus on one, very real possibility.
Depending on the worshipping community, some, many, or most people at ‘church’ are unconnected.

On a Sunday morning, these unconnected people get into their car, drive to a church building, walk in, say hi to a greeter, sit down, spend about an hour looking at the back of someone’s head, get up, and leave. 

There are some really terrific things that take place in that hour. The Word of God is spoken out-loud and God is acknowledged, worshipped, and glorified. But, there are some really important things that do not happen in that 60-minute block of time.

Prior to COVID, people attended church-as-we-know-it to watch and listen.
Since COVID, people “do” church-as-we-know-it to watch and listen.

Since this can be done at-home on a screen, why bother with a car ride?
Do you blame them?
We better not!
They are doing what is expected and getting what they are accustomed to – watch and listen.

Might this be a wake-up call?
What gems can we mine?

Would you like to join in on a conversation on this?
If so, reply to this post.
We will reach out and explore a time (via zoom) for a community conversation and a time to pray.

What are we learning?
What does God have to say to us, on this, in His Word?

Onward. Eyes on Jesus!


First time here?

28 thoughts on “Why Are People Not Returning to Worship?”

  1. Yes! I think all of this is true! Many people love the “coffee on the couch” church now because it’s easier, more convenient. But God doesn’t call us to easier and convenient. Sometimes he does but that’s not life. I also believe that our churches now need to get out of their comfort zone too. Isn’t it easier to offer church “online”? It’s less work on the people (staff). Less talking. Less ministering. (Not all churches are thinking this) but covid has begun a way of thinking that we don’t need each other. I can stay home and get paid. I can stay home and have “no conflict”. I can stay home, drink my coffee and worship. I can order all my “goods” and have them delivered. Community is so important. In church. In the grocery store. At work. In life. I’d love to be a part of the discussion. Count me in!

    JOY to you!

    • Mine is too.
      I see good things to come.
      Would you like to join in a conversation?
      3 hours into the post, it looks like 3 are interested.
      On my knees!

  2. I was just having this conversation with a couple friends the other day! One feels very disconnected at church. How do we connect in such a disconnected time? I would love to be apart of a zoom conversation on this!

  3. What does God have to say to us, on this, in His Word?Isaiah 58:13 (kjv)  “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:  58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”In Matthew Henry’s Commentary (vol 4, pg269) in the first paragraph of his comment on verse 13, he says “… by keeping that day in honor of the Creator they distinguished themselves from the worshipers of the gods that have not made the heavens and the Earth.”And Isaiah 56:1,2 (vol4, pg253) “… these verses …show that when God is coming towards us in a way of Mercy we must go forth to meet him in a way of Duty.”Parents must model Sabbath to each other and their children. Thank you for your ministry all about Sabbath. I hope my reply adds value into this conversation.Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

    • Thank you – !

      God used Isaiah 58 in my life, decades ago, to compel and catapult me to ALL He has for me in Sabbath Rest.
      Grateful for your shared passion!
      Eyes on Jesus

      *Isaiah 56:1-2* “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
      Blessed is the one who does this— the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”

  4. Oh Brenda, you struck a nerve here. Lol At Momentum Church, we were around 180 in Sunday attendance pre-pandemic, and really seemed to be on the move. We weren’t even online-only for very long, and followed the governor’s guidance for indoor gatherings, meeting in-person again as soon as we could. So, since last fall we’ve bounced back to about 130 or so, and have also seen new families come, individuals baptized, etc. So, it hasn’t been all bad, but I do think of certain people/families from time to time who simply haven’t come back. Unfortunately, I guess it’s my nature to be infuriated and cynical first, and then compassionate or empathetic. We (me specifically) have a tendency to evaluate all that’s NOT happening or good, and focus less on what HAS been a blessing. Even as I’m typing this, the Holy Spirit is convicting me and asking me why I’m not praying more for our church. I know that’s the answer, but it felt good to email you back. ??

    Hope all is well. I’d love to get to Camp this fall for a Saturday of quiet. I think I need that!

    • Scott – !

      You wrote, “Even as I’m typing this, the Holy Spirit is convicting me and asking me why I’m not praying more for our church. I know that’s the answer … ”
      Would love to have you take part in the conversation, Scott, if you are free!

  5. Oh Brenda!!!
    It is heartbreaking to watch the falling away from assembling together as a church.
    How can we, as the author of Hebrews instructs, “encourage one another and spur each other on to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24-25) if we never see each other? We have fallen so deeply into a pit of “comfort and ease” over doing the hard work of face to face relationships.
    When I was growing up our week was planned around church…Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night prayer meeting, revivals,Bible conferences, Missions conferences. That was our normal!!
    Now the new normal is to sit at home, in our comfy clothes, with our coffee in hand and watch yet another show on our computer or TV.
    And the other component that is driving this is fear. And fear is a powerful tool in the hand of the Adversary! God’s word tells us over and over again, fear not!
    My husband pastor’s a small church in a rural area. We have seen many fall away from the fellowship, but we have also seen new families and individuals join our fellowship looking for the teaching of the Word.
    Do we need to be wise? Yes! However, that wisdom must come from the Lord and not the world.
    Pray earnestly and diligently brothers and sisters in Christ. He has planted each of us exactly where we are for such a time as this♡♡

  6. You’re right. To get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head out to church, is a burden for many of us. We can instead, get up, eat breakfast, and worship on line in our pj’s. We can watch our church or your church or any church. So, what do we miss? No, we don’t get greeted or visit or have someone count us as those in attendance. Does it matter? Yes, it matters. You matter. I matter. We set aside our loneliness and sadness and allow Jesus, and others, in. It matters, but it’s hard.

  7. I might attend a conversation about this. But the moderator should be prepared because I am sure there will be people who are hot about this and I think there may be underlying reasons why people aren’t “in” church and if there are strong sentiments shared, it might push them away. So, be cautious. I will be praying for you ans I will attend if I can but I would also talk with you privately about this too!

    • Hi Liz – !

      Wise, wise words.
      It appears that everyone who read the blog seems to understand that the conversation is going to be about “connection,” and how the lack of connection may be a factor in the drift. I want to be laser focused on connection – and not take a look at the variou decisions that may come into play for any individual or family. I appreciate your 2 cents. I will make it clear that we are steering clear of any hot button topics. This will be about connection and compassion, not judgement and divide. It would be fun to connect, Liz! Want to email me? Brenda@RunHardRestWell.org

  8. Connecting on Sunday needs to involves intimate connection points/activities Mon-Sat. We have lost that aspect w/ a focus upon “booster” worship & dry periods during the week for some, many, most

    • Hi Rick – !

      Yes and Amen.
      What does connection look like? Mean? In our world today?
      How is this tied to discipleship?
      Definition of Insanity … Doing what you always do, but expecting different results

  9. Thank you for this post! I would like to learn more through community conversation about how to stay connected through online ministry at church.

    *Best Regards,* *Denise R. Nixon*

    Denise R. Nixon, PhD *Educational Consultant | Freelance E-Learning & Professional Development*

    *Mobile:* *803.468.1617* *LinkedIn:* *https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisenixon/*

    *Portfolio: https://sites.google.com/view/drncreativeportfolio/home *

    *Colossians 3:23-24* *And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, **knowing that from the Lord * *you will receive the reward of the **inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.*

    • Hi Denise –

      We will be in touch as we pick a date and connect.
      It looks as if you have a lot of on-line expertise.
      What do you do!

      • Thank you, Brenda! I appreciate your response. I teach college online and work with other organizations to help them develop and design online training and courses. I love connecting with others online – I believe that a lot of ministry and learning can be done outside of the four walls – and through the computer (or mobile) screen. Be blessed always!

        *Best Regards,* *Denise R. Nixon*

        Denise R. Nixon, PhD *Educational Consultant | Freelance E-Learning & Professional Development*

        *Mobile:* *803.468.1617* *LinkedIn:* *https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisenixon/*

        *Portfolio: https://sites.google.com/view/drncreativeportfolio/home *

        *Colossians 3:23-24* *And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, **knowing that from the Lord * *you will receive the reward of the **inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.*

  10. I’ll expand on your idea of people now-a-days “doing” church as opposed to attending church.

    This idea shows a passivity in worship, a people sitting for an hour, praying, and perhaps getting a nugget or two of inspiration from the sermon. This all too common passive church attendance reflects how much we have forgotten the essential reason for attending church: to actively worship God.

    Hoping for a good sermon to make us feel more connected with God proves to be difficult (and we stop attending) without realizing that we are called to attend service for the specific purpose of communally worshipping The Lord with one unified voice. We must take an active role in the Sunday Service, and accept our duties to actively take part as participants in the Sunday Service, not just as members of an audience there to watch and listen.

    Great conversation idea! Blessings and thanks to you.

    • Hi Tom –

      This has been an exciting conversation.
      Love the investment and passion of God’s people as we explore and pray.



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