Why Don’t People Participate in Christian Community?

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Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone says,

“Over the last three to four decades Americans have become about 10 percent less likely to claim church membership, while our actual attendance and involvement in religious activities has fallen by roughly 25 to 50 percent. Virtually all the postwar boom in religious participation – and perhaps more – has been erased.”

Why is involvement in Christian community decreasing? There are several reasons.

Reasons People Don’t Participate in the Church’s Community

(1) Individualism – A lot of church members are individualistic believing they can change by themselves.

(2) Compartmentalism – Most people tend to compartmentalize their lives. There is church life, work life, and family life.

(3) Busyness – Almost all Americans are busy. But we all know we make time for what is important. So when we say, “I am too busy”, what we really mean is that living in community with other Christians is not important to us.

(4) Consumerism – Most Americans are consumerists. They come to church in order to get, but are not willing to give. They are content sitting in the pew week after week because they have been conditioned by society to consume and shop around instead of plugging in and getting involved.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you resonate with any of these points?
  2. Are there others reason you would offer for why people don’t participate in the Christian community?

Resources

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6 thoughts on “Why Don’t People Participate in Christian Community?

  1. All of these are good points and certainly resonate with me from time to time.

    I think there are some other reasons. What about when church leaders focus more on attendance than community? Or create an environment where doctrine trumps authentic relationships? Or where congregants are allowed to gossip about others without reprimand or correction?

    My Christian community has much more to do with confession, thanksgiving and authenticity than “church” attendance. My community meets at Starbucks, Fuzzy’s, Rooster’s Roadhouse and includes people who attend multiple congregations in the county. My community is very active in loving each other and trying to be a reflection of Jesus to others in the community. None of that includes where I attend services. In fact, there are people who I attend weekly services with who have done more to hurt me and spread untruths about me. Certainly not what I hope to find in my community.

    I think community is affected by a broad spectrum of issues that include personality, upbringing and personal experiences along with several other areas.

    A great question with lots of hard answers.

    1. Jeff,
      Great points you make. I agree all of those can make someone avoid a certain community of believers.

      You have given some good insight to living in Christian community together. It is more than just attending a service, much more. It involves getting into one another lives, which is often not the case in a Sunday service. We need to go deeper. Enter people’s homes. Meet with them in our “third spaces”, and generally show an interest in them. Christian community is about connecting with one another based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of Him we can form bonds with people we never would. The gospel is funny like that. It brings all races, nationalities, interests, socioeconomic classes, etc together. It does it in a way that the world cannot.

      Thanks for your insights. As always I enjoy reading them.

      Blessings,

      Casey Lewis

  2. I’d include:

    (5) Clueless. Many Americans don’t know or they’ve never been told what they’d get (and give) when they participate in genuine community.

    (I was going to use the term “ignorance” which coveys it better than “clueless” but I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

    1. Brian,
      I think #5 is a good one. Most people are clueless when it comes to why Christian community matters, as well as why they should be apart of it. Thanks for your comment.

      Blessings,
      Casey

  3. Pingback: Christian Community Occurs In and Through Jesus | Christianity Matters

  4. Pingback: 4 Reasons Christian Community is Important | Christianity Matters

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