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Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Pomo concerns
While having a conversation about some frustrations regarding our church plant in Indianapolis, soldiermom brought up a very good point that I've wondered about before. Her comment regarding spotty church attendance was:
We have the same "here and there" issues at our church in central NY. I see a lack of motivation as compared to other churches I have been in. There are very few people who actually initiate events, or get involved in the day-to-day life of the church. It is frustrating. I wonder if others experience this apparent lack of commitment. Is it part of the postmodern movement? The average age of the attendees? Are we living out grace without an understanding of responsibility? What is it about this culture that allows us to not take commitments seriously? Where is the momentum?

I thought it was a conversation worthy of discussion among the group. Any thoughts?

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posted by Cary Fuller at 12:59 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 10/03/2006 01:18:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    I think it's a combination of things:

    1) Our self-centered Western culture. I don't think it's healthy for us to approach spiritual or community things from a capitalistic point of view (i.e. trying to get the most benefit for the least amount of effort).

    2) Their ages. 20's and 30's (I'm assuming those are the most common ages in her church) are pretty busy times in life - we're finishing up college, finding jobs, getting married, having kids, and figuring out who we want to be as younger adults.

    3) Many people in the Western world are overbooked - we try to do too much in too little time. Or we try to live a sirloin steak lifestyle on a hamburger budget. Or we're just trying to earn enough money to buy the hamburger in the first place. I think the church should be trying to help those of us who aren't currently doing so live more simple lives, to live below our means. This would help.

  • At 10/03/2006 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Wendy

    I agree with Lydia ... but it's not just a generational thing ... it's hard to find people willing to commit to on-going church attendance at all ages.

    A lot depends on stage of life, sure, but some depends on their willingness to make huge sacrifices (commitment can be a sacrifice) for something they're not particularly "sure" about yet. Expecting new Christians, for instance, to have a level of commitment that would "keep them coming" is difficult in our culture.

    Another issue is the whole concept of "coming to" church. Hmmm ... I've been telling churches to forget about finding ways to get people to "come to church" and find ways to get the church members to get out into the community.

    Most people just don't want to get up and out every week at the same time for community or worship ... again, too many other things to be doing.

    Like Lydia suggested ... the answer is in spiritual commitment ... but even there let's be honest about what we're asking commitment to ... just building a church, or strengthening a community of faith that makes an impact on the world.

    Just my two cents.

  • At 10/03/2006 07:37:00 PM, Blogger John Lynch

    Hey ladies... I found you thru Makeesha & I'm so glad I did! Thank you all for being women on this journey & for doing together & for dialoging publicly like this! I've longed, hoped, & prayed to find more mission-minded women that are publicly captured by Christ's vision of life & difference-making! You are a breath of fresh air to me & I'm sure will be to my wife too. I'm eager to read your reflections.

    Thanks for blessing me with your presence & dialogue! Life & peace in Christ our All. - John

  • At 10/03/2006 11:51:00 PM, Blogger juniper

    At the tail end of my most recent bout of depression, I felt unattached to my current church, so I went to the one church in my area which is in the post modern vein, if that's the right word. It struck me that a lot of the people there were there because of burnout or dissatisfaction with a previous church or even with their idea of relivion. I wonder if these kind of people are less inclined (maybe a little suspicious, even) to be deeply involved in a church because of prior experience. Caveat: This is just my own thought not to be taken too seriously.

  • At 10/04/2006 04:40:00 AM, Blogger Joanne

    This is an interesting conversation. I am struck by the notion of covenant and promises within community - partly attracted by the monastic traditions, which seem to be influencing many emerging churches, and also deeply moved by the Celtic tradition of CYMBROGI - a small group of accountability partners.

    Given my own age (24), and my friends and colleagues with whom I live and work, it is this notion of accountability and covenanting together which forges our communal identity.

  • At 10/04/2006 09:48:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    but it's not just a generational thing ... it's hard to find people willing to commit to on-going church attendance at all ages.

    That's good to know, Wendy.

    Unfortunately almost all of my friends and acquaintences are in their 20's and 30's, so I'm not comfortable speaking on the habits of people much older than that. :)

  • At 10/04/2006 09:48:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    Oh, and welcome to the conversation John, Juniper, and Joanne.

  • At 10/05/2006 09:05:00 PM, Blogger Sue Densmore

    This is a great conversation.

    I wonder if part of the problem is not a lack of commitment, but a commitment to other things. We make time for what is truly important to us. So if church is not on that list, then we won't make time for church - even if we'll fit it in if we find time.

    The other thing is something someone else said - "coming to church." If the whole church body begins to shift the thinking about church away from coming to a meeting and starts thinking about living a faith, some of this problem may disappear. People will realize that they need the faith community to learn to live their faith.

    Anyway, just a thought.

  • At 10/09/2006 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Charlotte Wyncoop

    Okay, take a deep breath before you read this and please don't get offended...

    Our culture is a do everything, be everything culture. We have the resources, ie money and time, to do and be whatever we want. And our culture worships people who do and are everything. We flit from hobby to hobby, job to job, spouse to spouse and load our time with the american dream of long vacations, do-it-yourself projects and high paying - high demanding jobs. And I really think the church culture is guilty of the same things.

    We want a church population that shows up for Sally's blanket drive so she feels good about herself and her role in the church. We want service attendance so we know we have a "healthy" growing church population. We want people to show up for all of our activities and events, when before they met us they were 100% committed already.

    What do you mean? 100% committed is how we all live every day. We divide our days and weeks into chores, events and activities that fill up our time. What we are really asking when we talk about church commitment is that people value what's happening in the church above anything else that is keeping them away. Is that right or good? I'm not so sure any more...Try this thought on.

    What if instead of events and schedules which competed with people's overbooked schedules, it was a single pep rally that helped them live those schedules as Christians or helped them back away to more important things, like a healthy family (not a church event). Why should church compete for commitment? In theory, shouldn't church be an energizer, not an obligator...

    The point I guess I'm somewhat randomly aiming at is that when we ask why don't people commit, are we really asking why don't they commit to us? And why do we really care? Is it because the corporate part of churchness needs to know? To be able to assess how we're doing...are we successful? Or is it the human needy side that needs to know are we doing okay? I don't think it's the God side that needs to know, because David got in trouble taking a census of Israel...

    Sure, it would be great to have more people to staff stuff and keep things working smoothly, but those are also the people who get committed and burn out. And if everyone got committed, everybody shared the load, wouldn't we just make the load bigger? Isn't that human nature?

    Anyway, these are just some thoughts I've been throwing around in my head lately...

  • At 10/10/2006 10:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    And I really think the church culture is guilty of the same things

    I hadn't looked at it that way. It makes sense, though.

    What do you think church would look like if we didn't model the culture in this regard?

  • At 10/10/2006 10:55:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    How did I post as "anonymous"? weird.

  • At 10/10/2006 10:55:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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