7 Reasons It’s Harder to be a Faithful Church Member Today

Last week, I posted a blog on “7 Reasons Pastoring is Harder Today.” That post gained traction – and then forced me to consider whether it’s more difficult to be a church member today than it was when I started ministry 35+ years ago. I think it probably is more difficult today, and here are some reasons why: 

  1. Members know too many stories of fallen church leaders. The Internet hasn’t helped here. Failures are now more public, and thus seem much more common. It’s tough to trust church leaders and churches when you wonder if/when their leaders, too, will fall.
  2. The world competes more with “church times.” I know our typical service times are not sacred, but very few things competed with these times years ago. Now, parents have to make hard calls when sports activities and school events compete with church.
  3. We’ve promoted a consumer mentality for church. We leaders have allowed it to happen by sometimes watering down the gospel to gain a crowd and by affirming growth that is only transfer growth. Consumers don’t have to be faithful to one church; they can simply remain “shoppers.” 
  4. Undiscipled members don’t know what faithful Christian living and church membership require. Members who haven’t been grounded in the gospel – and that’s a lot of church members today – don’t often stand strong as members of the Body of Christ. They turn to sin and false teachings that are so much more magnified and broadcast today via the Internet and social media.
  5. Too much preaching is boring. I’m sure some preaching has always been less than engaging, but the Internet has only magnified the problem while offering other options. If you don’t like the preaching in your church, you can listen to better preaching on your computer or your phone.  
  6. Churches equate “faithfulness” with activity — and our busyness gets in the way of faithfulness. Equating activity with faithfulness is a wrong understanding, of course. Nevertheless, it feels like our lives are so much busier now than years ago, and that makes it difficult to do all the church expects. Back then, we weren’t checking emails, doing Google searches, or traveling every weekend.    
  7. More churches are taking church discipline seriously. This trend is actually one of the positive reasons it’s harder to be a faithful church member today, in my judgment. More churches are strengthening expectations to join a church, and they’re holding members accountable when they ignore their covenantal commitments. Few of us were talking about these issues three decades ago.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from church members and lay leaders. Is being a faithful church member harder today? 


  • Bill Pitcher says:

    Great points…all of them; but # 5 and #7 hit home. If a preacher is boring he needs to be told, and faithful deacons/elders should take that task upon themselves after much prayer and help the pastor get some help in the matter. It’s well worth the trouble.
    As for the matter of discipline, well-articulated expectations for church members and frequent reminders are necessary, and often overlooked parts of this. There is also the matter of taking action on sinful actions by a church member, with possible special attention given to those in office. The procedures there should be well established in the church’s constitution or at least in written policy. NOBODY wants to be the party responsible for initiating discipline; but I will tell you that the end result is worth the stress of the process.

  • John Bartuska says:

    All of your reasons are on target. Supplemental to a few of them, many of us in the church today do not really believe that what God says is true or will happen. Also, prayers do not appear to be answered the way we want or at all, and so God must not care. No matter how much “grace, by faith, and this not of ourselves” is preached, most still believe it is up to them. This creates roller coaster Christians, heading up today and racing down tomorrow, upside down, around curves, fast, slow, exciting but then it subsides, only to start up again when the right mix of preaching, music, lighting and mood fits.

    It is why we must affirm our leaders again and again when they faithfully proclaim the real Gospel as THE ONLY answer to the bad news that Hell is real and eternity without God defines it. Encouraging each other while it is still called Today is paramount among those in the church who “get it”.

    Thanks for asking and for ongoing faithfulness to challenge and grow us, Chuck.

    John B, Summit Church

  • I would only add to this, and certainly implied in your discussion of undiscipled above, is the fact that so many church attenders are biblically illiterate.
    The small group phenomena has only added to this problem, as now everyone feels as if his opinion of a passage is as authoritative as disciplined exegesis.

  • Shaun Snyder says:

    I think 7 is a bit untrue. There may be selective church discipline, but the real power brokers of the church–especially minister’s wives–are generally shielded from consequences.

  • Solving Point #4, i.e. teaching believers what true discipleship is, would solve Point #2 and even Point #6. A faithful disciple would not distress over the the “hard calls” of life, be they single, married or families. King Jesus deserves the #1 spot in our lives, especially on the Lord’s Day. And a Christian who walks with Jesus would better understand the difference between “busyness” and “faithfulness”. Just my $0.02. 🙂

  • Neill Mims says:

    It’s my deep conviction that people need small groups and not only the preaching… (disagreeing with Steve above). Of course not making anyone’s comments equal to Scripture (even the right reverend doctors who study well). People get discipled only when there is discussion and interaction… No matter how good their pastor/preachers are. Thanks for your interesting articles Chuck! “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. Heb 10:24-25

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