A recent Pew survey reveals that one-half of American adults (51 percent) attend religious services at least once a month. It means the remaining 49 percent of grown-ups either go to church seldom or do not attend religious services at all.
Among the non-regular attenders, nearly one-half said church was once an important part of their lives and they used to attend more often. When asked why they were not going to church as often as they used to, 92 percent of the respondents cited one of these three reasons:
Fifty percent of people who used to go to church more often no longer do so because their work schedules, personal priorities, practical difficulties, old age and even laziness gotin the way. Even our personal (and unscientific) observations show that watching an NBA game or going to a party has become more important than attending the local church.
The second reason people become infrequent attenders is a change in either their own or their church’s belief system. Some have become atheists, others are seeking another denomination and still others have developed doubts of the literal truth of the Bible. As someone who has undergone the transformation from a choir boy to a freethinking spiritual person, I can empathize with the people who cited this reason to some extent. It is hard but, as my own case shows, not impossible. One can be a freethinker as well as a churchgoer.
Fully 17 percent of respondents are absent from church because someone they attended the services with is no longer with them or other social factors have come to play an important role in their lives. The most commonly cited social factors were: people are no longer expected to attend and something has changed in the family or lifestyle.
Change is a part of life. Religion is a human need. And I am positive that with effort we can find a way to not let practical issues, changing beliefs and social factors deter us from honoring our traditional belief system.