I’ve been in pastoral ministry for nearly 8 years. During that time frame, I have encountered so many different people with a variety of different perspectives. Indeed, different is not always bad. Sometimes different is just different; and that’s ok. But when it comes to church attendance, I have noticed that, in general, there are four very different types of church attenders. I like to think of these people as follows:
- Church attenders who treat the local church like a grocery store. These types of people are always shopping for the best deal for themselves, and especially their kids. These folks are highly uncommitted and fear joining any church because…”What if the church goes bad?” And “I want to keep my options open.” These folks might go to the church down the street on Sunday morning because they like the music there and the preaching is tolerable, but on Wednesday night they’ll take their kids to another church in town because (“Well, come on now!”) they just have a better kid’s ministry or youth outreach event. These folks view their local churches like they view their local grocery stores and are always hunting for the best deals in town.
- Church attenders who treat the local church like their favorite restaurant. These types of people have honestly fooled themselves into thinking that they are faithful and loyal to their local church because they only/exclusively attend just one local church. Some of these folks have even taken the plunge into full blown church membership, but they are rarely seen and, because of their lack of attendance, don’t give of their time, talents, and treasure with ease. No, they don’t hop and shop around for the best deals in town like the first category above, but because they view their local church like their favorite restaurant, they rarely show up and step up. Why? Well, you don’t eat at your favorite restaurant every week, do you? No, you reserve eating at your favorite restaurant for special events, date night, or whenever your schedule is free and uncluttered. This is exactly how these category of church attenders view their church experience.
- Church attenders who treat the local church like their local gym. Now, I’ll be honest, this is by far my favorite group of church attenders because these folks don’t merely attend their local church, they’re all in. These folks have joined the church by giving credible testimony of their salvation and baptism and have plunged themselves into all of the “one another” commands of Scripture. These folks love well, serve often, and are truly committed to Christ and the local church. And they rarely miss a Sunday unless they’re puking their guts out or are out of town on business or vacation. Why don’t they hardly miss a Sunday? Because they view the church like their local gym…They take their fitness (their spiritual fitness) very, very seriously. They work out on their own nearly every day (i.e., reading their Bibles and praying) and then on Sunday they converge at their local church to work out. Yes, they are fed the Word by the singing and preaching, but they are also greatly interested in lifting some serious weight as they love, give, and serve in a variety of ways.
- Church attenders who treat the local church like a gas station. Ha! Just had to throw this category into the mix. Who are these folks? This is the online crowd. They view things (many things – great praise bands, great preachers, and great churches) from the comfort of their devices with no intention of ever actually, physically attending a local church. They consume, and consume, and consume. It’s so easy! It’s so convenient! “Why go to church when I can worship God anywhere?”, they think to themselves. They get their fill of knowledge from online sources and get extremely fat on the Word. Why? Because they merely eat and consume without working out and giving back. In treating church like gas station food they have gorged themselves to being extremely full, and extremely unhealthy. Gas station church attenders…Gotta love them! And yeah, some of them scream, “Covid! Covid! It’s all because of Covid!” But I doubt many of them are truly sincere…But I digress.
There you have it. Four types of church attenders as far as I see the current church going landscape. What do you think? Which church attender best describes you? Do you truly love Christ’s Bride, the Church? Do you truly love the individual expression of Christ’s Bride, the LOCAL church? Are you fully bought in and committed, eating the Word and exercising your faith?