You might be surprised to know who attends church these days.
From time to time, we at Creation Ministries International (CMI) hear this criticism from our supporters: “You refer to your ministry visits to churches as being ‘outreach’. But true outreach means reaching out to unbelievers. CMI should hold more meetings specifically to address non-Christians.”
Implicit in that comment is the understanding that non-Christians don’t attend church—a view I used to hold, too, until I became one of the international panel of CMI speakers in 1999. Since then I have met and heard of many people who have been brought to belief through having attended a church on the day of ministry from a visiting CMI speaker. Some of those people were regular attendees at that church.
A recent article in an Australian newspaper highlights this phenomenon, and gives an insight into why people would bother attending church regularly if they don’t believe in Christ as Saviour, or even in any creator God at all.1
Andrew Burnard is a 45-year-old father of three who attends church every week, and is chairman of his church’s council. However, he “hasn’t believed in a traditional god, the virgin birth or the literal resurrection of Christ” since his teens.
The newspaper article says Mr Burnard is hardly a rarity, as a survey by the Australian National University “suggests this could describe a quarter of people attending church monthly or more”. The poll found 1% said it was impossible to know if there was a god, 2% didn’t believe at all, 3% ‘sometimes believed’, 6% believed merely in some sort of ‘higher power’ while 13% acknowledged belief in a ‘personal god’ but had their doubts.
So why do they attend church? According to the newspaper article, it’s “for the sense of community, shared social values, the ritual—or even the choir—despite holding religious convictions that are wavering, non-traditional or completely absent.”….
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