Maybe you know these people. They’ve been attending your church for some time – certainly long enough now to have decided whether to join officially. They haven’t joined, though, and nothing suggests they’re even close. Here are 10 reasons I’ve heard from long-term “attending non-joiners” for not affiliating officially with your church.
- Nobody’s taught them why church membership matters. Think about it—when’s the last time you heard a sermon or teaching on this topic? Young people are especially skeptical of making such a commitment without a legitimate reason to do so.
- No one’s challenged them to join. We might think we challenge them from the pulpit to join, but what we think is happening is not always what attenders hear. Their ears may hear as only a suggestion what we intend to be a clear calling.
- They don’t know how to join. Even those leaders who emphasize the need to join don’t always adequately describe the process. Confused attenders don’t readily join.
- They’re not yet believers. The battles they face are much more significant than whether they join your church; you may not realize it, but they’re still struggling with a decision to follow Christ.
- They’re still stinging from pain in another church. They attend a church because they know they need to as believers, but yesterday’s pain still clouds today’s decisions. Attending without joining just feels safer.
- They’ve not yet connected at a more personal level. That may be because they’ve not yet chosen to get involved in a small group, or it might be that they’re “just not fitting in” with a small group; either way, they’re not yet ready to join the church.
- They’re wrestling with their own sin. They know that joining a church matters, but somehow they sense it’s not right to join when sin seems to control their life.
- They doubt they’re needed. Sure, they’d probably learn differently if they just asked, but it’s hard to see need when attending only on Sunday morning – especially if everything goes smoothly each week.
- They’ve heard something about “church discipline.” For some attenders, this concept is new – or they’ve heard only horror stories about it. Because they don’t know what church discipline might require of them, they simply choose not to join.
- They simply see no need to join. After all, they can live their Christian life without ever being an official member of a church anywhere . . . right?
What reasons have you heard from attenders who never join?