There’s a trend across the country among good, church-going people: Attending a weekend service at their local home church just once every two or three weeks. Seems like the new norm for many. As other church leaders across the country have observed, it’s particularly noticeable when those volunteering seem to attend only when they’re “scheduled” to serve.
I have thoughts on this behavior.
- People are busy. And busier. Kids are in multiple sports leagues, some of them weekend traveling teams. After a 60-hour work week people are catching up on sleep, home projects, and recreation.
- Busyness – and all the activities within that busyness – emerge as apparent higher values than the value of being with the gathered Church in a church service.
- We offer online church – on-demand. Regardless of the great reasons to offer an online experience, it certainly offers convenience in the busy schedules of people’s lives. They can benefit from the experience without driving, dressing or expending energy or time.
- We’ve taught with clarity that “you’re the church where you are.” It doesn’t all happen in the “box” on the weekend. It seems people are learning to live that out... with an apparent effect on church attendance.
Some would insightfully argue: “So what’s the big deal? Church isn’t the box. And following Jesus isn’t about weekend service attendance.”
True. I agree with both observations. We ARE the Church; it’s not a building. And attending religious services doesn’t earn spiritual brownie points.
So why show up for “Church” at the box?
- Edward T. Hall’s theory of proxemics has long demonstrated the need each of us has for relational spaces that are “public” in nature, as well as more personal, even intimate relationships. The weekend experience provides a God-designed public sense of community. Regardless of congregational size, this large group community draws us into belonging to something much bigger than we are.