Why the decline in church attendance?

See Why I don’t want to come to your church.  The money slide:

Presbyterian study – why people stay in church: In our study, the single best predictor of church participation turned out to be belief – orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ.

Virtually all our baby boomers who believe this are active members of a church.

That’s one reason I focus so much on the exclusivity of Jesus and blast the false teachers who deny this.  The only good news is that the fakes will keep shrinking.

There are 100+ passages in the New Testament that state directly or indirectly that Jesus is the only way to salvation (I submit that the NT doesn’t make sense outside that idea).

And of course the Old Testament has nearly continuous reminders not to worship other gods.  Of course, repeating things a lot isn’t what makes them true.  We trust in the truth of Christianity because we believe that Jesus really rose from the dead.

But the abundance and clarity of those passages means that anyone claiming the name of Christ should hold those views.  Anyone denying them is either a false teacher or is saved and very, very confused.

The key is to preach the truth of God all day, every day.  If we really believe in God then that should be obvious.  Church attendance will then take care of itself.  The churches playing the bait-and-switch game – and worse yet, forgetting to switch – mock the cross.


31 thoughts on “Why the decline in church attendance?”

  1. Neil, do you think that churches should spend more time making the minimal facts case for the resurrection, and maybe showing from science that a God capable of performing miracles exists as a matter of fact?

    It might help people to see why Christianity is different, and that these exclusive claims that are so divisive are not meant to divide, but are actually as testable and knowable as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun.


  2. The problem with the church in general is that too many are preaching a self-help message with God’s name sprinkled in for good measure. The sermons have been reduced to living better and being happier. We dont need Jesus for this, nor is that what Jesus is for.

    When Christ is reduced in this fashion church services are no different than any other method people use to find happiness or personal meaning or self esteem. Why should Christian churches command the attendance when they offer nothing different?


    1. Thank you.
      You have just put into words the problem with what is going on at our church.
      Our new pastor is on a campaign for us to go out an make disciples, which is great; depending on who we are making disciples for, and why.
      The arguement is that only by making disciples can we bring about peace on earth.
      Wrong, we make disciples so that people can be saved. Jesus will take care of the peace on earth when the time comes.


      1. I agree Sunday School Teacher….We are not here to make this world a better place like Michael Jackson claimed….we are witnessess that Jesus Christ is real and that His death on the cross is the propitiation for our sins. When we get this right and lift up Jesus like we are suppose to do…the bible says that Jesus will draw all men unto Himself.


  3. Jesus really did rise from the dead. Really he did. Undoubtedly. Positively. Just rose right up after he died and flew around for a while. Yep. He sure did.

    Hey, do you want to buy a bridge? I have a nice one for sale. Or how about some ocean-front property here in Colorado?


    1. Do you have an explanation for the empty tomb, which scholars nearly universally agree on?
      The start and persistance of Christianity under extreme persicution?
      The willing martyrdom of the early disciples?
      The conversion of Saul of Tarsus?

      Just curious is you have reasonable alternatives.


      1. a) There is no concrete evidence for such. The only written testimony is the NT which is not an independent text.
        b) Such behaviour is seen in numerous religions throughout history. Even today.
        c) See B.
        d) See B, though again the details of this case are highly speculative and should be viewed sceptically at least.


      2. Matt and Ben, Village Atheists (as WK might say), separated at birth perhaps.

        How ironic that the “reason” crowd produces people like Matt who think that b) qualifies as an argument and worse yet, that repeating it 3 times qualifies as anything (was he trying to be clever?).

        Re. a), there is a ton of evidence that virtually all scholars, believers and non-believers alike (presumably mostly non-believers) agree on:

        Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
        Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
        Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
        The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.
        75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

        There is more, but you get the idea.

        I submit that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts. People who disagree need to come up with a more plausible explanation — at least they need to do that if they want to be taken seriously, which Ben and Matt obviously do not.

        And those scholars don’t just rely on the NT, and the text doesn’t have to be independent. (Do these guys think their Darwinian evo texts are independent?! Heh.)


      3. Neil, why does (b) not qualify as an argument? Why are we expected to be moved by Christian martyrdom, but not that of other religions? And further, why is the political climate of the late 1st century never considered as a factor? W


      4. Again posted too soon. What I was going to say is we will never know what Christianity would be like today if the Romans had not destroyed the temple in 70 CE (or AD 70, if you prefer).


      5. Sorry, I didn’t catch the a-b-c-d correlation since the earlier commenter didn’t use that.

        I think one just has to examine the martyrdom particulars. It is safe to assume that most people won’t die for what they know to be a lie. Muslim suicide bombers probably think they possess the truth about God. But the earliest Christians had first-hand knowledge of Jesus. If they “knew” He didn’t rise from the dead then their actions make no sense.


      6. http://www.withoutvoid.com/jesus/page49/page53/page53.html

        These are some of the reasons why a majority of contemporary scholars recognize the fact of the empty tomb. Still other arguments could be provided, as well. That is why historian Michael Grant concludes that “the historian . . . cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb” because if we apply the same historical criteria that we use elsewhere, then “the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.”7

        Grant was an atheist. http://www.bede.org.uk/price1.htm

        Now if you are serious you’ll go do your own homework. Sorry, no more time for trolling here. I know when it is pearl holding / dust shaking time.


      7. Gary R. Habermas is a professor at a Christian university. Of course he’s going to defend it!

        Michael Grant supports the existence of Jesus, but if he believes in the resurrection, he’s hardly an atheist. And he doesn’t.

        Okay, that’s strike two. 🙂


      8. Cute try with your “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Now that you gamed the system you can’t lose, eh?

        Another problem is that Grant didn’t say he believed the resurrection (I’m not sure if you just aren’t really reading or if you are deliberately ignoring points that don’t support your bigotry).

        He said he believed the tomb was empty. Big difference. Our claim is that evidence points to an empty tomb and many skeptics agree. Then the question becomes, “What is the most likely explanation?” Using many other facts of history (Paul’s conversion from hostile enemy to passionate evangelist, the beliefs of the earliest followers, etc.), we believe that the resurrection is the best explanation.

        Still at zero strikes. Please find another blog to spout your Big Book o’ Atheist Sound Bites lines. We realize that you think calling people “religious nuts” and the like qualifies as logical reasoning, but that doesn’t fly here.

        I hope that when you are alone and away from a public debate where you obviously aren’t interested in facts or a real discussion that you examine why you are so hostile and close minded. People typically reject Christianity for one of three reasons: 1. Intellectual (though you obviously haven’t taken that element seriously), 2. Emotional (if you were wounded by the church I wouldn’t let that get in the way of the real God) or 3. Volitional (don’t let plain old childish rebellion keep you away from being adopted by your creator, being forgiven of your countless sins and avoiding the punishment for them and being eternally blessed by God).

        Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


      9. How do you know the body of Jesus wasn’t stolen by his followers? How do you know the whole thing wasn’t just some propaganda?


      10. Those and other possibilities such as the “swoon” theory (where Jesus didn’t quite die but convinced his followers that He came back to life — http://tinyurl.com/2ebxakm) have been examined in great detail. Is it possible they happened? Yes, but very unlikely. They break down in various ways.

        Simple example: If He stayed dead and you’d all abandoned him out of fear, why would you risk your lives by stealing the body, especially after just seeing what happened to him? What would you have to gain? It wasn’t like following him had brought you money, sex or power (the typical big 3 that attract people).

        Re. propaganda — if that was the case they were really bad at it. Making women the first “fake” witnesses would have been a huge mistake, as they were not considered eligible to be witnesses and would have lacked credibility. It would have been one more embarrassment for them.

        Also look at the book of Acts, at least the first few chapters. These people had abandoned Jesus but a couple months later are in the faces of the Jewish leaders in a serious way. What changed?

        Yes, I know you don’t think the accounts are authentic. But take a couple hours and zoom through Luke and Acts. They are very readable. Luke has had his critics over the centuries but archeology has proven that he was a phenomenal historian, getting all sorts of minute details about places and titles right over and over. That doesn’t prove that his accounting of supernatural events are accurate but I doubt you’ll find him to come across as fanciful or inauthentic.


      11. Sure, how about the entire Jesus Seminar. If you do not already know where NT scholarship is in this area you are announcing to this entire thread how ignorant of this subject you really are.

        Listen, don’t come on these blogs regurgitating the slogans you get from atheist websites. They refuse to research what they complain about. Why? because they believew theism doesnt deserve attention and study, so they ignore it and dismiss any claims of theism and Christianity without engaging the claims seriously.

        Do some homework and then get back, but dont come back just spouting your ignorance of textual criticism unless you are prepared to engage it.


      12. Charitable dialog = welcome

        Trolls = not welcome

        Conversions from trolls to those who can discuss things charitably = welcome

        Consistency check: All clear

        (Or is there some universal morality driven by Stephen Hawking’s physics-laws-of-undetermined-origin that militate against a blog owner having commenting guidelines?)


      13. Comment wasn’t aimed at you. Neil. I just find it funny when other people, with wannabe blogs who re-hash the same arguments found on a zillion other Christian sites, breeze in here and start throwing their inconsiderable weight around.


    2. “Just rose right up after he died and flew around for a while.”

      No. It was on the third day and there are no reports of Him “flying around for a while” unless His eventual ascension into Heaven counts as “flying around” to one who so obviously has made no real study of the issue.


  4. Ben’s just trying to incite visitors to his site in order to drive the traffic up. That’s his modus operandi in the blogosphere – hit and run, inflammatory comments out of the blue in order to entice you over to his site.

    I would suggest y’all not even bother feeding the trolls. 🙂


  5. Mai i recommend that you read a book entitled “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman.

    The answer to the issue of the decline in church attendance in America and much of the Western world lies within the amazing pages of this book.

    I hope and pray it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.



  6. I agree do not feed the trolls.

    My main points for these types of discussions.

    Nothing discovered by science has invalidated anything stated the New Testament. While absolute proof does not exist for all claims of the New Testament, there is also a stunning lack of absolute refutation of it. Stunning given how hard so many have tried to discount it.

    The empty tomb is not so much an argument that God exists but that Jesus is the one path to salvation. All religions make claims, but no other religion has the depth of historical evidence to match the validation around the events mentioned in the New Testament.

    I always find fascinating how the “Does God exist?” arguments ignore that if God does not exist, that essentially means given sufficient time, everything within the Universe can and will be explained. Accepting God exists is accepting we can never know everything. Which is the more arrogant claim?

    If the New Testament is so unreliable and discredited, how come all other religions and so many secular people continue to focus on explaining why Jesus is not who He says He is?


  7. “I would suggest y’all not even bother feeding the trolls.”

    Oh, I very much like the trolls. It’s quite like going to the zoo and watching monkeys fling their poop.


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