Has your worship attendace remained low?

A culture of "pajama worship" may be to blame

Max H Herr

6/29/20223 min read

In the post-pandemic months, many churches that adopted live-stream worship have failed to bring many of their members and attenders back into the church for Sunday worship. One of the primary reasons is that they continue to live-stream the worship service. This has created what I call a “culture of pajama worship.” And it’s not biblical.

Another reason may be analogous to what many employers see in their “hybrid” workforces. Millennials, Gen-Xers, Gen-Zers, and even the Baby Boomers (thousands of whom are reaching retirement age daily, but continuing to work full-time) all seem to agree that remote working is preferrable to being cooped up in an office each day. And more than half of Millennials say they would quit their present employment – or at least begin looking for new employment – if required to return to their workplaces on a daily basis. This was also true for a third of Boomers and 40 percent of Gen-Zers. Similar percentages in each generational band indicated that only a significant pay increase would get them back into their workplace.

It's a simple thing to roll out of bed a few minutes prior to the live-stream, maybe grab a cup of coffee, and sit back and watch “the show.” Don’t have to shower, brush my teeth, put on any makeup, or get dressed, let alone drive to the church. It may be keeping folks connected to the church . . . online giving has helped many churches stay on track with their budgets . . . but is it truly worshipful?

And, it’s also true that a number of churches grew during the “pandemic lockdowns” simply because their doors were open when folks found the doors to their own church closed when they were desperately seeking to worship in-person together with other believers.

Twenty-first century technology is certainly not seen in any biblical references, but Genesis 2:18 clearly reveals that God did not create mankind to live or work in isolation from others. In numerous passages, the Apostle Paul writes that worship is intended to be a corporate event. Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 1 Corinthians 14:26: “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” In Acts 20:7, Luke writes: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” And in Acts 2:2 we see: “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”

It doesn’t mean that we cannot experience “worship” in front of our television or computer screen, but we miss something more important when we are not in close fellowship with other Christians. We miss the experience Christ himself promised, in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

So if your church’s pre-pandemic worship attendance has not been restored to at least 90 percent today, I would urge you to continue to record your worship service and make it available online, but not as a live-stream event on Facebook or YouTube or your own website. Instead, post it Sunday evening or Monday. For those who would prefer a live experience, they would have to return to the church for the worship hour.

The lockdowns were a blatant overreach of state and local governments into the affairs of the church. Describing churches as other than essential was an affront that should never have been tolerated as widely as it was. It gave rise to a convenient excuse, however, for not coming to church. But today, there is no longer a reason to stay away from the church. Those who continue to fear infection or have compromising health conditions are welcome to wear their masks. But we need to be in worship together.