In a recent article at his blog, Thom Rainer writes, “I am seeing change in local congregations faster than any time in my lifetime. One of the most disheartening changes I am seeing is the declining attendance in a majority of churches. I am asked repeatedly to diagnose and help with these challenges. See if any of these reasons apply to your church.

Cultural Christians no longer see the need to attend church. Cultural Christian is really an oxymoron. I refer here to those men and women who once attended church for social, political or business reasons. Most of them no longer feel it is necessary to be in church to be a regarded citizen in the community.

Church members are attending less frequently. I have noted in other articles how I see this development as potentially the greatest contributor to attendance decline. Three decades ago, a very active church member attended three times a week. Today we call those who attend three times a month an active church member.

Expectations are lower for church members. One reason church members attend less frequently is that very little is expected of them in many churches. If we expect little of our members, that is exactly what we will get.

Insufficient emphasis on groups. This reality may be one of the most neglected areas of church life. Groups of all kinds—home groups, small groups, Sunday School classes, life groups, and others—are key to assimilation and greater commitment. The importance of groups must begin with the pastor and all other key leaders in the church.

Inward focus. In too many churches, the emphasis is on me, myself and I. Some members are more concerned about the temperature in the worship center than the eternal destinations of their neighbors. The me-focused church is on its way to decline. (Click here to read the rest of the article, including two additional reasons for decline.)

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