Odds are you don’t connect with God even once a week

According to Barna research, 66% of churchgoing Americans say they have “felt a real and personal connection with God” there. If we are grading on the same scale as my kids’ schools, that translates to a D-. Just barely passing. And that only accounts for those who have had such an experience without accounting for frequency, so it could have been only once for some of them. Barna reports that 44% of churchgoers feel a connection with God at church on a weekly basis. Eighteen percent say monthly.

If people don’t connect with God on a regular basis, why do they bother to attend? Or, maybe church is no longer considered the primary place for people to connect with God. With my book about the place attraction holds in the Bible almost complete, this concept fascinates me. Jesus assigned us to be the light of the world, so we’re supposed to attract people to him. I can’t see how we’re supposed to do that if the people who are already in our churches don’t have a vital experience.

But, maybe instead of measuring the quality of our experience this info addresses a new perspective on where and how we should expect to find intimacy with our Creator. Maybe not. If it isn’t church, then we need to figure out what role church supposed to play.

What aspect of church do we expect people to make that connection with? A teacher at heart, it’s my hope that a relevant exposition of the Bible will have some influence. For many, singing in praise to God with the rest of the church provides the connection. But, should people anticipate weekly worship as the most significant time to meet with God? I wouldn’t be surprised if a large percentage of people find their connection with God during small group discussions, while serving others, after making what was learned on Sunday a part of real life during the week, or even during the thought process involved with writing (or reading) a blog.

As I type this I realize I’m assuming the “weekly” in this study refers to Sunday morning, or whatever day your church worships together. My brief hunt for clarification on the Barna site was unfruitful. Nonetheless, I’m interested in knowing where you tend to experience God the most, and, if you’re willing, how often do you feel a close connection to Jesus in that setting? What role should church play in aiding this intimacy?


18 thoughts on “Odds are you don’t connect with God even once a week

  1. Similar conversation with a friend just yesterday. Our talk turned to the question of what the Sunday service is designed for – the Christ follower or the non Christian. Most of the services I’ve attended tend to focus on the believer so I hope and pray that connections are being made with all of the resources poured that way!

    • Funny how that came up more than once for you recently. Outreach magazine does a spot near the back of every issue where a mystery guest rates a church on the evangelical aspect of their experience. Very interesting.

    • Without commenting on other peoples faith Lee, your comment is the reason the Salvation Army held two distinct styles of service on a Sunday when I was growing up in the UK. I cannot comment on the style of service in the “Army” elsewhere in the world since it has always encouraged forms of worship which were relevant to the culture of the nation.
      On Sunday Mornings we had Holiness Meetings which were designed to foster our relationship with our Creator, our Saviour and the Holy Spirit, to make us better Christians and more Christ like. The evening service was the Salvation Meeting which was intended to confront the sinner with the consequences of their sin, and to let them know of the amazing mercy and grace of our Lord and Saviour and the salvation which was theirs for the asking, so both groups of people were catered for.

      • The intentionality of the Army’s approach was commendable. It probably worked back in the day, too.

        Growing up in the same setting (but, in America), it had the affect of separating the holy people from the unholy. Sunday night seemed to be for those who hadn’t graduated to a Sunday morning experience, except for the musicians who were on duty. And now most churches have gone to just a Sunday morning. Is it the same in England? Those churches need to be aware of this issue since they’ve never had to deal with it before.

  2. There isn’t just one place I most often experience God. I feel His presence most intimately in a myriad of places including but not limited to: running outside, spending time with the kids, alone in study or prayer, at a baseball game or during a sermon or worship at church. I don’t think there is any one place that is more spiritual than another…it’s a matter of *our* hearts and how in tune we are with the Lord or how dull and distracted we allow ourselves to be… the one concession I would make is that I do hear from God undoubtably every time I fast and pray. So idk…I think it’s a matter of the Spirit blowing where he will coupled with our own obedience and diligence to invest in the things of God and whether those things are consuming our thoughts or worldly things are. In frequency, for me, I’d say I hear from God everyday in one way or another.

    • Running? I’ve heard that people can commune with God like that. Not me! I’m just not a runner. It’s funny how people can be so different.

      The Spirit certainly blows where he pleases. We don’t expect the wind to blow a certain way at a certain time, yet we put expectations on where the Spirit will meet with us. There is freedom for many people in this concept.

  3. I tend to feel a greater connection with God when I see him at work in my life, making me more like Jesus or using me in someone else’s life to accomplish the same purpose. Sunday AM church gives education and encouragement for that experience that I have during the week.

    • Same for me, Gary. Your thoughts remind me of a Eugene Peterson book I read in college about the privilege pastors have of being blessed by witnessing the process of God working through other people. It’s clearly not just a Sunday thing.

  4. I feel a connection with God especially at the beginning of a day. Getting up early and spending some time in prayer and in His Word. This has now become a habit and I love the quite time before the day has begun to think and reflect and discover new truth.

    • I think a lot of people connect with God in the same way. It has made me wonder if we need to clarify that Sunday mornings may not be the best time to meet God in an intimate way for everyone. Or, maybe it’s just different. Maybe connecting with God as a community is just a crucial but may not feel the same.

      • Somehow the relational aspect of meeting together and hearing God’s Word keeps me balanced and allows me opportunity to realise that I am part of the Body of Christ and not a lone ranger. A quiet time with God alone prepares me for the arena of life. Church meetings encourage me to work in harmony with others, to be generous and see that God’s purposes are accomplished in much bigger ways than I can do alone.

      • In that respect, I do connect with God on Sundays. It’s a relationship with God that can only be fully realized with the aid of a community of believers. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Dave, we still have two meetings on Sunday here, though the clear distinction between the two meetings has changed somewhat.

  6. For what’s worth I like your blog so I nominated it for the “sunshine award.” If your interested check out my page. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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