Think about the implications of that statement. If you’re committed to growing your church, that means:
- The people you’re trying to reach intentionally didn’t want to go to church.
- And more to the point: They didn’t want to go to YOUR CHURCH.
There are a LOT of reasons why the unchurched “say” they don’t want to go to church:
- The church is filled with hypocrites
- Church is boring
- Fear of being judged
- The church is only after their money
- They don’t feel welcome
- They don’t have time
- They practice their faith in “other ways”
All those are probably as good of reasons as you can get. But in the end, they’re not really honest of accurate – at least, not completely.
The fact is, there are primarily two reasons why people don’t go to church:
- It’s Irrelevant
- There’s No Value in it
In my experience, and my job is to experience churches near and far, too often they’re right.
Is the Church Irrelevant?
Relevant: Appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.
For now, let’s skip the whole Worship Wars issue and whether or not your church music matches anything that sounds like what Bob and Barb are listening to on Spotify. Let’s go to the heart of the matter … the sermon.
- If your sermon is delivered in the same way your great-great grandfather’s sermon was delivered, your delivery method might be a bit out of date.
- If your congregation could close their eyes for your whole sermon and not miss anything, your teaching style might be anachronistic.
- But here’s the main issue: If the point of your sermon doesn’t address Bob’s and/or Barb’s real-world problems, then your sermon IS in fact irrelevant to them.
The key to that last point is “real world.” Bob and Barb aren’t losing sleep because they don’t understand the Trinity. They aren’t sweating bullets because they’re afraid they’re going to hell (in fact, they’ll tell you quite adamantly they’re heaven bound, regardless of what your old book says). Advent, Lent, Christ the King Sunday, Epiphany, Reformation Sunday, Pentecost – all topics and seasons they have little interest in … they are irrelevant to their “real world” lives.
Sure, why not.
Relevant to people’s real world lives?
Nope. None of those are on the Top 10 Worries for USAmericans in 2022.
And if last week’s sermon (there’s an anachronistic word – one that dates back to the 1500s) didn’t give Bob and Barbara a tip or a tool on how to solve one of the problems that’s keeping them up at night, then it would have been deemed “irrelevant” to them. And if what you’re handing out is deemed irrelevant, Bob and Barbara aren’t going to find a compelling reason to break their Sunday habit of coffee, the Sunday Crossword, and Meet the Press.
Which brings me to the second point:
Is the Church Value-Less?
Value: The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
I love that definition, but let’s put it into something more relevant 😉 … WII FM?
Sure, you and I go to church to worship … to give of ourselves … to commune with God.
But Bob and Barb? That unspoken question is the primary reason they have little to no use for church – yours or anyone else’s. They’re asking. “What’s In It For Me?”
For those lapsed church members who wander into your services during this year’s Christmas or Easter services, the WII FM may be a sense of nostalgia and warm-fuzzies from your traditions. But if Bob and Barbara weren’t raised in the church, they’re not even going to get that.
Sadly, the church is notoriously bad at offering real-world value. Irrelevance is a part of it, but it sometimes seems like the whole “full and abundant life” promise of John 10:10 has been interpreted that we’re guaranteed a nice worship service and a meaningful prayer life. But solve life’s “real world” problems? That falls outside the purview of the gospel.
By and large, the value most churches seem to be offering is eternal life – something almost no one worries about. And things like the generic Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love themes of Advent aren’t compelling when disconnected from “real life” circumstances – and the more specific the circumstances, the more valuable the solution will feel.
And that’s the key to getting Bob and Barbara to break their Sunday morning rituals – value. IF they perceive that you’re offering something irresistibly valuable on Sunday, they’ll at least consider venturing out to hear the solution you’re offering to their worrisome problems.
I built a map that can help make your weekly Conversation irresistible to Unchurched Bob and Barbara. It’s a small sampling of the Growing Church Network for Pastors course. You can get your copy here.
Pastor, if you’re still struggling to reach your pre-pandemic numbers, you might need the Growing Church Network Course.
- 6 Modules
- 50+ Training Videos
- Weekly Coaching
- Ongoing Encouragement
- Bonus: 2 Social Media Marketing Programs
Schedule a Strategic Planning Call with one of my coaches and we’ll share with you how to get started so you can become your congregation’s Church Growth Catalyst – because your church’s growth starts with you!