Why do people go to a church service?


I think most would agree that the church is one of the last places around that you’ll still see the primary/sole mode of teaching/transformation be a lecture-style sermon, monological preaching. Folks in education have been experimenting with different forms of pedagogy for years, and have moved past the “talking head” format for quite awhile now. Sure, there are times in a large lecture-format course where it still makes sense to give information that way – but most students would probably tell you there are more engaging ways to learn and actually have the information stick, than listening to a lecture.

Yet, it’s a safe bet that you can show up at church on a Sunday morning at your typical church, and expect, for the most part, to sit back, listen, hear and be a passive recipient of a worship service, particularly during the sermon.


Why do people go to a church service?

It feels that’s this is the question Adam is really asking.

I don’t think many people in ministry really think about this question. They just know people come to services and never really ask why they come.

Church. This thing we do.

We go to a building once per week to do something so entirely other than anything else we’ll do the rest of the week.

Why do we do it?

What’s Not at Stake?

At least for me… going to church isn’t optional. It’s something I do in obedience even if I go through a season of not getting it, getting anything out of it, or downright not liking it. I believe, as the author of Hebrews points to, that when we hold on unswervingly, that community life will come back into season for us.

Affirming Experimentation

This is one thing I love about youth ministry. Experimenting with learning styles, worship styles, meeting styles, and all of that is kind of built into our DNA. Last week, I loved Brian’s experiment with putting volunteers in front of their peers and saying… “What would you do in ____ situation?” Many youth groups communicate biblical truth via dialogue, small group teaching, and other things which both help students think critically about stuff and build systems to check-in with them about implementing learning.

My hope for “big church” is that we figure out ways to do that.

My encouragement is, just like we do in youth ministry, foster environments where experiments are OK.

Why do we bother even thinking about this? Don’t forget that in your community 90%-95% of the community simply opts out. It’s not working for them. 

Is that motivation enough?

Photo credit: Church girl by Brittany Randolph via Flick (Creative Commons)






4 responses to “Why do people go to a church service?”

  1. Tom Avatar

    Enjoyed the post. You referenced Hebrews 10, but left encouraging one another out of your 3 bullet points for why we gather – I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on why.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      @a5049f949364d85dfdc76e205e48dfe7:disqus As someone sitting in the pews… there’s very little “encouraging one another” in a typical corporate worship service. (Both in my home church and ones I visit while traveling.) The most “one another” get to do in a church service is turn around and say hi. There’s a big difference between being friendly, which most churches are, and being encouraging. That said, I find deep encouragement from one-one conversations, small groups, etc.

  2. kolby milton Avatar

    Challenging post. I think we always have to ask why we do what we do. If we aren’t constanstly challenging the status quo then we will be irrelevant.

    I think a ton of churches are just doing what the other big church is doing. We need to think of our context and the people we are trying to reach.

    I think we need to hang out one of these days adam!

  3. […] these topics) blog some similar posts related to worship and the way we teach/preach and interact. Adam McLane and Adam Cleveland Walker consistently blog intriguing and thought provoking posts. These […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: