Thursday, January 19, 2012

Church attendance (my final entry on the subject)

If you go to Google and type in "Why don't people go to church any more", you'll see plenty of reasons, so there's no use in my wasting time and Internet space on the subject.  The church, as many people pointed out, is not the building; it's the people.  So the correct wording would be, "Why don't I go meet with the church?"  
I'm adding a link to another blog because I think it's relavent.  Sorry I added it after several people already read this entry, but that's how I often do my entries... hit or miss.  Click HERE.
Read the comments on all my entries on this topic and you will see some real people's ideas on the subject.  Here are my own ideas: 
The decline in church attendance is most apparent in small-town communities.  These churches weren't all that big to start with, so it hurts when when people drop out.  I think in small congregations, part of the trouble is that the people know one another so well.  Let one person offend another, and somebody leaves, taking his family with him.  I've seen this happen all too often. 
Young people seem to be less interested in church attendance than older folks; Go visit any church, especially the smaller congregations, and look around:  there are lots of gray heads in the crowd, aren't there?  
In most young families these days, the husband and wife both hold down jobs, and usually spend a lot of driving time on the road.  They are carting the babies off to babysitters, so they only get a couple of hours each evening with their kids before they send them off to bed.  On the weekend they're doing the grocery shopping and house-cleaning and laundry:  it's hard to stop everything, get everybody bathed and dressed, and head to church services.  The ones who do go to church will often choose to drive farther in order to find a church that has activities for children and young people, which means they will probably find a larger congregation.  The smaller churches just can't compete, although I've seen some of them try.  It never works.  Hiring a youth minister for the two teenagers attending your church doesn't seem to make other young people come to church.  
My daughter mentioned the problem of churches trying to force people to help in their nurseries:  There is a very simple solution for this, the one I grew up with.  When a church building was erected, they would put a sound-proof room in the back of the sanctuary with a plate-glass window looking out over the congregation.  The sound of the service was piped into that room.  It was equipped with changing tables, a crib or two, and lots of rocking chairs.  When your baby got fussy, you took him to the "cry room", and you'd take care of your own baby.  You rocked him, fed him, or changed him, while listening to the sermon or hymns.  If he settled down or went to sleep in your arms, you rejoined the congregation.  
Isn't that simple?  
So now we get down to this question:  Why don't I go to church regularly?  
Laziness, perhaps?  It's easier to stay home.  It isn't that I sleep in; I'm usually out of bed by 5 A.M. every day; it's just easier to stay here with my television, my Nook, and my computer.  Me, me, me.  It's all about me.  
And then there's this:  I'm not much of a people person.  What if I get to know these folks and they figure out how strange I am?  I'm always putting my foot in my mouth.  If they REALLY knew me, they probably wouldn't like me.  This, I believe, is why many people prefer to go to a large church where they can slip in and slip out.  If you regularly attend a small church, you are going to have to talk to some people and get to know them and they are going to figure you out, for better or worse.    
Looking back over the years, I can honestly tell you that I was always a better person when I attended church regularly.  I spent more time "sweeping around my own back door" and less time criticizing the neighbors.  I was more giving, less stingy.  I smiled more, I sang around the house more.   
Like many people, I have a problem with a church that doesn't want me unless I give a certain amount of money.  Not all churches are like that, just so you know.  It wasn't that way where my family attended church when I was a kid.  A few years ago I attended a small, country church where they didn't take up a collection at all:  There was a box at the back of the auditorium and you put your money in there on your way out, if you so desired.  

Surfing the Internet as I do, I read a lot of blogs.  I've run into several atheists on my Internet travels and have come to this conclusion:  The really vocal atheists are the angriest, most hateful bunch of people I've encountered.  They don't seem happy.  They aren't thankful for the good things they have (of course, who would they thank?).  They bash Christians for no apparent reason.  If I were an atheist, which I am not and never will be, I would just pat the silly little Christians on their empty little heads (if that's how I felt about them) and leave them alone.  
But that's just me.  
I'm done with this subject, because any further words of mine would be like beating a dead horse.  However, I will still take guest entries from anyone who would like to add something to the topic.  I cannot emphasize strongly enough to READ THE COMMENTS, because there's some good discussion going on there.       


Anonymous said...

Around these parts..the common answer to not going to church is "Church is just another bill to pay" .. The economy is tanked out, lots of families have gone from two incomes to one income families..They are stretching their dollars just to feed their families ( food prices have almost doubled) and just to keep the lights on in their homes with the rising utility hikes.. The added financial stress of the weekly expected tithe at the church offering time, the high cost of gasoline, church clothes, and the rush to finish getting all the house hold chores done before Monday ..All that leaves no family time..Those are the kind of answers I heard when I asked around..

David Twente said...

Donna, Thanks for your thoughts. I need to read all of this, and take a bit of time to process it before I leave my thoughts. There is a lot of fog between my ears, so it may take a day or two, but i will leave my thoughts.


I still say if God is in your heart you don't NEED the building and the people inside. Too many shennanigans going on there. GOSSIPING, in particular. Folks tend to be a tad bit too judgemental about others, but forget their own faults. And it's church for goodness sake. But that is just me and my experiences?

Anonymous said...

What happens to the next generation who have never gone to church? On what do they base their moral compass if they have never heard of the Ten Commandments?

kcmeesha said...

I am an atheist and I get along with religious people just fine. The problem is that currently Christians are running the country, from the president to congress to governors etc. There is 1 moslem in congress,20 or less jews and the rest are Christians. Some of them are trying to push their religious beliefs into legislation, like intelligent design,birth control, taking money away from genetic research, abortion, etc.Ten commandments in front of Missouri Capitol or Christmas trees don't bother me at all,but when they try to legislate my life according to the beliefs I don't support I start having a problem. Imagine that some other religion was in majority and you will know how atheists feel.

Donna said...

Meesha, I know you have some fun with certain billboards, but I've never seen you actually "bash" Christians like some KC folks do.
I agree whole-heartedly that religion should be kept out of politics. The idea that people will elect a president on one qualification... church membership... and think that makes him a good leader, is beyond stupid. There are people who will vote down anyone who is pro-choice, not knowing anything else about the person or how qualified he is for office.

ingasmile said...

I think what you said about atheists can be said about any group of people. There are always going to be loud mouths in the group!! I know plenty of mean, spiteful, gossiping Christians. I know many who attend Church regularly but then turn around and lead an immoral life (cheating spouses?) In fact really all I know are professed "Christians" in our area of the country that is the main religion. If I were to tell people I am agnostic or atheist it would not be received well at all and I would have people trying to tell me why there way is the right way.

As far as my moral compass. I do just fine without the 10 Commandments thank you. I know the difference between what is right and wrong. I don't need a book written by men to tell me to stone my wife/neighbor just because his/her beliefs are different than mine.

I am very thankful for the gifts in my life. I don't need to be thankful to a God for that. I am thankful that my husband of 19 years is a good man and a good provider. I am thankful for the brain I was born with to lead me to make mostly good decisions in my life. I am thankful for parent's who did not preach to me about God(too much) and did not force me to do things.

Okay, enough for now. Have a great day!

Donna said...

That's good feedback, Inga. I guess because I get along just fine with (friendly) atheists, I assume most others do too.

Nancy said...

My husband and I married 12 years ago (2nd marriage, 6 kids between us) and he belongs/belonged to a pretty strict denomination. We went pretty faithfully for a few years and it was obvious that while he "believes" his attendance was out of duty and I starting dreading Sunday mornings because he'd always be in a bad mood. He seemed fine when we were "at church" but this church was an all or nothing place. He was constantly asked to sing--which is flattering, but it takes a lot of time to prepare and get together with people to practice, etc. Seemed like every week there was something we had to "do". Church was such a chore to him. He changed jobs and had to work weekend shifts sometimes and we were able to "slip away" from regular attendance. I don't miss the demands of it.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's true that no matter what church you go to , the attendance is mostly down. Here we lost a lot of people because we lost a lot of jobs around here and people moved away. I know that working couples find it hard, but I worked and had 7 children to get ready every Sunday and still made it. Where one of my son's lives, they had to build a larger church to accommodate every one and it's a thriving community. I guess where he lives is where a lot of folks from Ohio moved to in order to work. Anyway, going to church is all about worshipping our loving Lord and I like to do it in His house... Final words on that one...

me said...

I agree there are thousands of excuses we come up with not to go to church, some of which I have used myself. simple to specific if we don't want to attend we will find 1 of them.

I know from experience the bigger churches do offer a lot of amenities. some people do you use those as a reason to attend the church . I also agree people will use the sheer size to hide. When I first started at a large church I could boast about attending but never had to be called on 4 anything , or even noticed . I do know the larger churches just work for some people .

you are more visual in a smaller church .and sadly in almost every church big or small there will be someone who will gossip, point out your faults and be mean, its just more noticeable in a smaller setting. I do agree that it is church and people should not act that way , but you can't shut the doors of the church on anyone. strange mean hurtful sad happy all have to be welcome or it's not a church .

I've seen people destroy and tried to destroy churches with their behavior . even if it breaks my heart it will still happen .

here is why I attend church and a small 1 .

I want God to know I am commited to following him.

I am 1 of those people that need to be held accountable for my behavior . I have a personality that is easily addicted to things . I go to church because I'm involved , sunday school children's church singing .

my church and knowing my god is watching keeps me in check. I have watched my church feed the hungry , help families financially during hard times, members help widows with home repair, members give a vehicle to help another, repair vehicles, I could go on and on. attending church means I get to be a part of all of this , that includes the good and the bad . it's another family .
not sure about other churches but at my church I have never seen a bill go out when tithes aren't paid, that's between you and God.

Just my thoughts.

Amy said...

Here's my dollars' worth (because seriously, what can you buy with 2 cents?) - Church and beliefs are two vastly different things. I'm Pagan, but I go to Catholic Church. I like going sometimes, because it's calm and peaceful and quiet (not the norm in my house). Most of the time, I can't even hear the Priest, but the atmosphere itself is soothing. Do I follow the rules? Eh, I guess....but not out of some fear of Eternal Damnation (echo here). I think I'm a pretty moral person as I am, and I take personal responsibility for my own faults (or good points).

Margaret said...

I would agree that going to church, reading the Bible or professing to be any religion doesn't make you moral at all. Haven't we all seen those self-righteous politicians, preachers and others fall hard from their "pedestals?" I am a non-church going believer who has seen some very shoddy and unethical behavior from those who use their church as a sort of shield or perhaps security blanket. That's my two cents! :)

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I have to just say though I go to church to worship, God is truly everywhere. Meant to add that on my final comment for this subject.

Penny said...

I love going to church whether large or small because it brings me back to what my mama taught me and Who I serve. I was a missionary for a while and loved it. I can't do that anymore, but I will speak out as I can. I won't shove Jesus down your throat. I've met too many of those. If I were healthier, I would be in church every week and helping our pastor with the homeless outreach. I just can't do that right now. I have never had words with and atheist or agnostic. Life is a series of choices and I've made mine.