POLL: What keeps people away from church?

This Sunday, I’ll be teaching about the church in Smyrna, in Revelation 2. It’s week 3 of the churches, and we have 4 more weeks to go.

One of the major benefits on Revelation 2-3 is the insight that it provides us into what Jesus looks for in a church. That’s valuable because we can easily get carried away with our critical ideas of what we want in a church, while forgetting to focus most heavily on what Jesus focused on.

So, out of curiosity, I wanted to pose this question:

WHAT KEEPS PEOPLE AWAY FROM CHURCH/CHRISTIANITY?

If you’re a Christian and/or church-goer, leave a comment about the excuses you’ve heard non-church-goers use.

If you’re NOT a Christian and/or church-goer, I would love to hear what’s keeping you at a distance. Leave a comment and let me know!

20 thoughts on “POLL: What keeps people away from church?

    • Agreed! I hear this one all the time. Their unfortunate experience with someone before made them never want to go back! All the more reason to set an example and never be the person that gives someone that excuse!

  1. I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but I honestly think people just like to sin and so they look for “theological” reasons to avoid church or certain churches. I am not discounting the fact that some people have been burned but as a whole most people want just enough God on their own terms to justify their lifestyle and that is it.

  2. I think that there are loads of people that don’t want to be held accountable for what they do. That having to own up to their wrongdoings is something that they don’t feel they need to do, since it’s their life. If I don’t “believe” in God, I can’t go to hell…

  3. The guilt they have for all the sin they have/are commiting on a daily basis or in the past. I remember going in to a church once (i was church hunting to find the right one) and felt guilty being in there becauss I knew I wasnt a fan of that specific religion…but went there with a friend just to try it out. Because of that guilt I felt, I felt like I let God down by not liking the church or service…so I just stopped Church hunting for a long time until my husband’s NCO (boss) invited him to go to their church, and since he wanted theto go….i went with him and thats how I discovered the Calvary church and now I know thats where I belong.d

  4. Well, here’s why I don’t go to church:

    The bible confuses me. I’ve gone to church and hear some guy talking about David, Joseph, Matthew, Mark and Noah and I think wow…..That’s a lot of people to remember! I don’t know these people and then it bores me. I get so confused I stop listening.

    ITS BORING!! I hate going to church and sitting in a rock hard pew listening to some guy preach on and on about something I have no understanding of telling me that I SHOULD DO THIS AND THAT!

    I don’t like feeling pressured into giving a church money….One church I went to told us God says we ALL need to give money to the church when we come. GOD was lucky I showed up that day, I don’t have money to just toss away.

    I’m unsure of whether I believe or not. I’ve never been raised to go to church every week and I have every reason under the sun to NOT believe. Although, I’m trying…..

    I don’t like a ton of people, especially people who just stare at you when you go to church. I don’t like shaking someone’s hand over and over again. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here for the word.

    Insecurity. I don’t like being judged by people. I don’t dress nice going to church, jeans and a tshirt for me, and I feel eyes burning a hole in the back of my head. No, I did not purposely rip these jeans, I bought them this way! And if there’s an issue with what a wear, keep it to yourself. At least I came to church today….Besides, are YOU in the position to be the ONE JUDGING?!

    I could go on and on and on 😀

    That’s just a few

    • Ashley, thanks so much for your response and your honesty. I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had such a bad experience with churches and Christians in general. I hope one of these days you’ll give it another shot! Where do you live? Maybe I could give you some recommendations, if you’re open to it.

      • I’m open for anything, but it takes A LOT for me to try something new. I’ve been to MANY different churches and they haven’t gone over well. I was actually recommended Awaken from a friend just recently.

      • Well if you give it a shot, we’d welcome you. I hope we could help rebuild your trust in what the church is REALLY supposed to be. Plus, you might like to know that we don’t have pews (padded chairs instead), and I often teach in a t-shirt and jeans as well! If you’re ever interested in coming, our Sunday service times at 8:30am, 10:15am, and 12noon!
        Thanks for your input, Ashley!

  5. I am saved and go to church when I am not working, but the reason for me is that I’ve been hurt by leaders/pastors in the church that were flat out rude to me. Thought they were people I could look up to and trust. Because I’ve been hurt I have a dissconection with the church and I still have pain thinking that there may be other “leaders” in other churches that are similar to the ones that hurt me.

    • I understand what you’re saying, Jordan. Just try to remember that Pastors/Leaders of churches are human just like us. They screw up, too. That doesn’t excuse the fact that they treated you the way they do, but it shouldn’t stop you from being where God wants you. They are called to a higher standard than any of us, so they should watch their actions and words more closely. I would suggest to just pray for them, and move on until God leads you to the church that you’re supposed to be at. I wish you could make it to Awaken more often, but I know that’s quite a drive for you.

  6. @ Ashley, Kevin isn’t boring at all! He’s funny, and puts it all in ways that I can understand, and a tech geek, nerd lol. We’ve got all types of people at Awaken, its where my family & I call home. I hope you give it a try!

  7. I re-tried the Catholic Church after my parents died. The Priest has always seemed bored, and reads the Homily from a book. I am trying a Methodist Church this Sunday. I am looking for a church filled with love, spirituality and a sense of community. I am very happy my nephew and his family found Awaken, and I am looking for something like that. I like the young dynamic approach to The Word, and hope I can find it without moving to Clarksville!

  8. Let’s see here…What keeps people away from church, eh?… Confusion (believing misinformation or being compelled to believe lies as the Truth) , Chaotic lifestyle (selfishness), Sloth (laziness). In essence those things being whispered in our ears constantly by the enemy in an attempt to keep people “in the world.” Those that go to church, in my limited life experience are selfless, industrious, and Truth seeking individuals. The excuses that I’ve heard all fall into one or more of these areas.

  9. “What keeps people away from church?”

    Found this site (and others, Googling “men away from church” OR “men out of church”),
    after having just had an unpleasant Sunday morning experience
    with a sort of evangelist offering / not offering indoctrination classes in “discipleship”
    (teaching people what to think, I think, and honesty forbids me to pretend to believe whatever
    “doctrines of men” insist upon; I prefer not to discuss religion, although it is important to me.

    Like some of the “Christian” remarks on this and other sites, I was instantly (knee-jerk response)
    accused of being an “atheist”. (I am not; although I once told an atheist:
    “I don’t believe in the same God you don’t believe in” which I still think is a pretty clever,
    inoffensive, and even a friendly response to atheists who have been pushed away from Church.)

    I also have been trying to come up with better resources than I previously found for a minister
    who I respect who asked me to find information on what keeps men (like me)
    out of Church.

    (I have alternated between attending religiously, and, after many bad experiences,
    avoiding Church like the plague.)

    First off; read Christ in the Red-letter King James (or a few other versions; see BibleGateway.com)

    The reason I am a Christian is because of the words of Christ,
    in a Red-Letter King James Bible given to me when I expressed an interest.
    (My Church Hat-&-white-Glove-wearing step-mother took me to Church — BORING —
    but refused to let me attend Sunday School of the Saturday youth group)
    and because of the influence of a truly Christian minister
    who bought a rural dog-kennel, hosed it out, cleaned it up, set up a little country Church
    and taught from the words of Christ.

    And because of my Father, who, rather gruffly, let me know that scripture is real,
    that the Qur’an is the New Testament (classically educated, he considered himself a Stoic),
    but that doctrines are mostly hogwash,
    that Jesus, like Muhammad and others, was a man, not God,
    and that actions speak louder than words.

    Contentious arguments over “the doctrines of men” — assuming that Right-wing American beliefs
    developed over the last century or so, in the tradition of the “Puritans” (the name says it all)
    crammed down everyone’s throats
    are the only “true” beliefs certainly push many good Christians away from organized religion, &/or
    good people away from Christianity.

    Also, superstition is not religion. Something can be either true or false
    (even if unknown, or even unknowable), but Medieval/Aristotelian “logic” and reasoning from “authority”
    (Scriptural or otherwise) used by either “scientists” or pseudo-scientists,
    or by “Christians” or pseudo-christians (or others, such as Muslim fundamentalists)
    often leads to errors.

    One example: “The Bible says God made the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the night;
    the Sun is out during the day, and sets at night, so the Moon can’t be out during the day.”
    Me: “Then what’s that?” (pointing at the Moon in the midday sky)
    “That has to be some sort of optical illusion or a reflection, or something.
    You know, the moon reflects Sunlight.”

    There’s no point in even discussing religion (or politics or even reality) with someone like that.

    Read Galileo’s Letter to Grand Duchess Christina, that nearly got him tortured for heresy.

    The miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, it seems to me,
    is a more subtle example of a sort of childish superstition distorting an important scriptural lesson.
    It’s not about David Copperfield pulling rabbits out of a hat, or fish out of a basket.
    Personally, I think the whole POINT of the story was that when the crowd became restless,
    hungry and thirsty, a child offerred up his food and Jesus used the generous, charitable liberality
    of the child to set an example: many in the crowd had food and drink; all we have to do
    is share.

    Isn’t that a better lesson to take from the story than a magic trick?
    Doesn’t it seem likely that THAT was the lesson Jesus taught so well (by example) that day?

    I am a Christian, but I am NOT a fundamentalist.

    Though I had aspirations to be a minister, as a teenager,
    until my step-mother, enraged by the Church welcoming teenagers kept me away from Church
    and from a Methodist family (Oh! Horrors!).

    My Father was a mathematician who refused to go to Church
    (he said it’s just a social club, and I tend to agree with him),
    although he tithed, generously, to a Catholic-run school for Lakota Sioux in Montana.

    My academic background is mostly in the “hard” sciences,
    although when I experienced the culture shock of
    moving to the PROFOUNDLY racist “Bible belt”
    (Day one on the job as Senior Engineer, I was called a “d’mn’d Yankee”
    and after I got sick of the “N!gger” this and “N!gger” that
    I showed family photos and told a nice-guy racist preacher’s son to tell everyone that I am Black
    and suggested African-American or Black as alternatives to “N!gger”.)
    I wore a Martin Luther King pin to work in honor of that National Holiday
    and a few whispered thanks, but it was like I was a bomb-throwing radical, honoring
    “that ‘G*d-d’mn’d’ ‘commie’ ‘n!gger’,” and was “let go” “services no longer required”
    (after having been credited with driving customer complaints down from 12,000 to 15,000
    per month to ZERO, and having solved one major problem on the other other side of the factory
    — the ONLY problem solved on that racist “engineer”‘s side of the factory,
    “it’s time to get rid of that ‘G*d-d’mn’d’ Yankee ‘N!gger’ Lover.)

    I went to a career counselor, and she asked me “what are you am good at?”
    And I said “Statistics.” She punched it up on her computer and it listed Sociology,
    and I thought ‘well, maybe Labor statistics; maybe I could get a job with the Department of Labor,
    or EEOC or OSHA or the Employment Security Commission or something;
    meanwhile, I could try to understand what the H3LL is going on around me down here.’
    I remember having thought ‘I’m getting pretty good at quality improvement (having had
    significant impact on hundreds of millions of medical diagnostic test results),
    maybe I could apply some of these skills to social quality control
    — and I have since been accused of being a “social engineer.”

    I have studied sociology and related
    matters (including the analysis of survey and other sociological data,
    as well as — in a less disciplined way — history and the histories of science & religion).

    The sociology of religion, like theology, is WAY too complex for me, but
    taking ideas from migration studies, it seems to me
    that practically all reasons for going to Church, or NOT going to Church
    can be classified as Push/Pull
    (Push &/or Pull to or away from Church);

    Self-righteous churchy people with attitudes, words & behaviors like some of those suggested here
    and on other sites either push / reject rather than pull (attract).
    Some of the contempt many “Christians” have for those they consider their inferiors is contemptible,
    and helps to verify the complaints of people who have been pushed out or kept out.

    Snooty comes from snotty; looking up the noses of people who LITERALLY
    put their noses up in the air and turn their heads, often due NOT to “sin” or “lifestyle” but to
    back-biting, back-stabbing character assassination / gossip / rumor slanderous lies;
    for example condemning me as “Gay” & demanding that I confess it
    because I was wearing a pin my employer required me to wear that said (city name)
    P.R.I.D.E. Ambassador — People Riding (the bus) in D(city) Everyday,
    or calling me a drug addict / alcoholic (apparently because I stumble sometimes for medical reasons
    or because I have reported cops for felony misconduct, having sent a couple to prison
    — one of the people I suspect of being one of the instigators of such vicious rumors is an ex-cop,
    close to local cops, who I had gone to for advice a couple days before I was beaten by a couple
    guys not in uniform while uniformed cops watched,
    after cops had told me I was to be beaten by a couple of cops not in uniform.

    Anyway, he called me a liar then, and since, and even slammed me up against the wall
    at Church with his fist against my throat (he’s an elder in the Church), and no one said a thing.

    Authoritarianism (both right-wing AND left-wing authoritarianism) are worth studying
    in relation to religion.

    For example, many so-called “Christians” (and others) are racist &/or
    contemptuous of other religions or denominations. (Like a preacher here condemning Catholics
    as “wine-bibblers and Mary-worshippers” from the pulpit
    or another condemning other denominations as “racist”.)

    Hostility toward the “other” (“Get out! You don’t belong here; you’re not one of us.”
    was the beginning of the end for me…
    (Can’t get much more repulsive than that; I was literally pushed backwards out the Church door,
    and the door slammed in my face, on “Family day” at Church.

    Sorry for the long response; I’ll stop now, and work this up into a more complete essay sometime,
    “God willing & the creek don’t rise” and send it to (among others) a minister I mentioned above.

    Anyway, I think I’ll call the essay (needing more research and links) “PushMePullYou”;
    BRIEFLY (bottom line) it seems to me that
    Religious affiliation, or lack of it, can be analyzed through push-&-pull; attraction and repulsion.

  10. edit:

    … Authoritarianism (both right-wing AND left-wing authoritarianism) are worth studying
    in relation to religion.

    For example, many so-called “Christians” (and others) are racist &/or
    contemptuous of other religions or denominations. (Like a preacher here condemning Catholics
    as “wine-bibblers and Mary-worshippers” from the pulpit
    or another condemning other denominations as “racist”, yet pronouncing from the lectern that
    “We believe in separation of the races.”)

    Hostility toward the “other” (“Get out! You don’t belong here; you’re not one of us.”
    was the beginning of the end for me…
    (Can’t get much more repulsive than that; I was literally pushed backwards out the Church door,
    and the door slammed in my face, on “Family day” at Church.

    Sorry for the long response; I’ll stop now, and work this up into a more complete essay sometime,
    “God willing & the creek don’t rise” and send it to (among others) a minister I mentioned above.

    Anyway, I think I’ll call the essay (needing more research and links) “PushMePullYou”;
    BRIEFLY (bottom line) it seems to me that
    Religious affiliation, or lack of it, can be analyzed through push-&-pull; attraction and repulsion.

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