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Saint Augustine of Hippo once said, “He cannot have God for his father who does not have the church for his mother.” This great theological scholar recognized the importance and need for the church in the life of the believer. In Scripture, we see this model, too. The early church is depicted throughout the book of Acts, beginning in chapter two, where we see that early Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” God knows that we need each other to walk through this life together. We were never supposed to have to try to walk through the Christian life alone.
If you’re thinking that all of this sounds great, but are questioning the practicality of these truths today, you’re not alone. Knowing truths about the importance of the church is not always a top reason for actually attending church. So, why do people attend church today? What causes them to stay and connect, or leave and go another way?
We’ve asked this question, done some research, and have worked to gather studies and responses aimed at answering the main question below.
Question: Why do people stay or connect with a church?
Answer: Below are highlights from studies and responses that were published within the past five years.
Top Reasons U.S. Adults Give for Choosing to Attend Religious Services
(Research conducted by Pew Forum. Note, percentages are from adults who attend religious services at least once or twice a month and say that it’s “Very Important” that they attend)
- To become closer to God – 81%
- So children will have a moral foundation – 69%
- To make me a better person – 68%
- For comfort in times of trouble/sorrow – 66%
Top Five Reasons Church Dropouts Say They Stopped Attending Church
(Research conducted by Lifeway)
- I moved to college and stopped attending church – 34%
- Church members seemed judgemental or hypocritical – 32%
- I didn’t feel connected to people in my church – 29%
- I disagreed with the church’s stance on political/social issues – 25%
- My work responsibilities prevented me from attending – 24%
Reasons For Attending Church
(Research conducted by Gallup. Note that percentages are people’s responses that this is a major factor in why they attend church.)
- Sermons or talks that teach you more about scripture – 76%
- Sermons or lectures that help you connect religion to your own life – 75%
- Spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers – 64%
- Lots of community outreach and volunteer opportunities – 59%
- Dynamic religious leaders who are interesting and inspiring – 54%
- Social activities that allow you to get to know people in your community – 49%
- A good choir, praise band, cantors, or other spiritual music – 38%
Ten Reasons I Attend Church
(Personal responses from Thom Ranier)
- I attend church to serve others.
- I attend church to encourage others.
- I attend church to encourage my pastor.
- I attend church to state my priorities.
- I attend church to participate in worship.
- I attend church even if it doesn’t meet all my needs.
- I attend church with frequency, not on occasion.
- I attend church to set an example for my family.
- I attend church because the Bible tells me to do so.
- I attend church because I love my church.
Ten Reasons To Attend Church (Even If You Don’t Feel Like It)
(Responses from an article written by Rhonda Stoppe)
- To hear the preaching of the Word
- To participate in corporate worship
- Because iron sharpens iron
- To exercise your gift
- To encourage your pastor
- To find Godly mentors
- To teach your kids to love the church
- To be a light to your community
- To bear each other’s burdens
- Because God says to
If you are a church leader, take these statistics and personal reasons to your church and challenge your congregation.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Hopefully, you can take these facts and reasons for attending church and use them to make changes at your church that will help more people attend, connect, and learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are looking for even more helpful resources check out the courses offered in the Church Relevance Course Shop.