It's fair to say that I am not the biggest 'churchgoer' in the world. My 'Sunday best' hasn't been dusted off for an unmentionably long time, and if I were a Catholic then I'd need at least a week free for confession. However that's not to say I don't have Christian beliefs or convictions in the spirituality department, it's just that I don't really speak the church language and my attempts at learning it were about as successful as my attempts at learning French.
I kind of feel sympathy for the cool people in the church who are trying hard to attract new faces to their congregations and save souls in the process. Their challenge is nothing short of a huge uphill struggle. It seems to me like the easiest age group to catch is young kids, because let's face it if you give them fun things to do young kids are easily persuaded. However, the moment they start getting into their teens and watching their image more and more, the church is in for a battle. Then they go off to college and from my experience, that's where the church loses the greatest number of its former youthful flock.
'Reaching out' to adults is equally as difficult. Christianity, certainly here in the UK, just isn't deemed as 'cool', and with a ton and a half of stereotyped images to combat even the most earthly evangelist is going to have to work hard to make the idea of church sound appealing.
Sometimes I think that Christian people forget what it's like to be one of the so-called 'non-churched.' They maybe don't understand that the church is essentially a whole new culture, with its own sub-language, clubs, humor, and rules. Taking an un-churched person to a church could be fairly compared to taking a nun to a strip club!
Imagine for a second, if you will, standing there while everyone around you sings praise and worship songs, prays, and listens to the preacher talk for what could be a very long time. Depending on what kind of church this is, there could be all manner of things happening from the simple eyes closed while praying thing, through to the lifting up of hands and rotating the wrists like a satellite dish as if you are trying to tune into the best spiritual signal. In extreme cases, the congregation might suddenly start talking in tongues (which often sounds like gibberish) and folk might start collapsing as they are 'slain in the spirit.'
Then of course there's the message. "Two thousand years ago this guy called Jesus, who was God's son, but also God, came to earth and after doing some cool stuff he was crucified. But he died for your sins so that you can live forever because Jesus loves you - cool huh!" Errr... okay. Try explaining that to someone who doesn't live in Christian culture. It is of course way more complex than that, but you get my point.
It's a tough sell, and it's not made any easier by the fact that in today's sexually active society, Christianity's biggest export (apart from Jesus) is the whole 'no sex before marriage' thing. Among the Christians I know, this is often the one major stumbling block that often separates them from the church in the end.
It should therefore come as no surprise that church attendance is falling rapidly in the wealthy west. We have so many other cool things to distract us from taking the time to ponder the bigger picture. We've got movies, clubbing, sex, play stations, exercising, dieting, suing, fighting, profiting, working, and even blogging to distract us! How on earth are we supposed to find time for God in all of that?
In the end, the truth is what it is I suppose, and we'll all learn that sooner or later. In the meantime, I'm happy enough not to go to church for the time being thank you very much. The reason for that is because I've found that the hardest place to be a Christian is in church.