7. Self-directed spirituality
People are looking less to churches and leaders to help them grow spiritually, and more to other options.
We live in an era in which no parent makes a visit to a doctor’s office without having first googled the symptoms of a child’s illness and a recommended course of treatment. Just ask any family physician. It drives them nuts. (Google, doctors will tell you, is not a complete replacement for medical school.)
Similarly, when was the last time you bought a car without completely researching it online?
In an age where we have access to everything, more and more people are self-directing their spirituality … for better or for worse.
Similarly, another characteristic of the post-modern mind is a declining trust of and reliance on institutions.
The church in many people’s minds is seen as an institution.
I don’t actually believe that’s what a church is. I think it’s a movement … not an institution. But many churches behave like an institution, and the post-modern mind instinctively moves away from it as a result.
8. Failure to see a direct benefit
People always make time for the things they value most. If they’re not making time for church, that tells you something.
Even among people who say they love the church and who say they love your church, if declining attendance is an issue, chances are it’s because they don’t see a direct benefit. They don’t see the value in being there week after week.
That could be because there isn’t much value (gut check). Or it could be because there is value that they simply don’t see.
Either way, failure to see a direct benefit always results in declining engagement.
So what are you doing or not doing that leaves people feeling like there’s not that much value?
9. Valuing attendance over engagement
I’ll talk about this more in the podcast interviews and in the next posts, but when someone merely attends church, the likelihood of showing up regularly or even engaging their faith decreases over time.
At our church, I find our most engaged people—people who serve, give, invite and who are in a community group—are our most frequent attenders.
More and more as a leader, I value engagement over attendance.
Ironically, if you value attendance over engagement, you will see declining attendance.
10. A massive culture shift
All of these trends witness to something deeper. Our culture is shifting. Seismically.
Church leaders who fail to recognize this will not be able to change rapidly enough to respond to the shifts that are happening.
If you want more on how the culture is shifting, I outlined 15 Characteristics of Unchurched People Today here and outlined 12 Cultural Trends Church Leaders Can’t Ignore (but Might) in this post.
Change is unkind to the unprepared, so prepare.
That’s why I’m so passionate about this upcoming series of blog posts and podcasts.
Will Mancini and David Kinnaman With More
If you want more context for the attendance changes we’re experiencing in the church and culture today, listen in on the two podcast episodes below.
Your can listen here in the browser window below, or click here to listen to Episode 23 with Will Mancini to listen on your phone or other device.