Why We Go to Church… or Do Not

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, September 6, 2018
Why We Go to Church… or Do Not

Why We Go to Church… or Do Not

According to the Pew Research Center, there are some definite reasons why people do – or do not – go to church. It might be good to eavesdrop since there has been “a decline in attendance at religious services from 2007 to 2014, with about a third of Americans now saying they worship weekly and about a third saying they go rarely or never.”

First, why people do go.

Among regular attenders of religious services, two in three go because of their kids. They also go for “personal comfort” or to become a “better person.” But the biggest reason of all? To feel closer to God. The irony is that one in five people usually don’t feel God’s presence when they do. One in four usually don’t feel a sense of community, and four in ten usually don’t feel connected to their faith’s history.


But let’s dig deeper into why those who don’t go to church don’t go.


Here’s what I like; really, really like. Among the top cluster of responses people gave for not attending church are things such as not finding a church they like, not liking the sermons, and reporting they don’t feel welcome.

Why do I like that? Because it’s low-hanging fruit. Meaning, fixable. Easily fixable. 

We can help them find us.

We can work harder on sermons.

We can be more friendly.

In other words, all we have to do is open the front door and do a better job at valuing them and their time.

We can all do that... right?

James Emery White



Jeremy Weber, “Pew: Why Americans Go to Church or Stay Home,” Christianity Today, August 1, 2018, read online.

“Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services,” Pew Research Center, August 1, 2018, read online.


About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash.com

Why We Go to Church… or Do Not