Apathy in the Church

Unlike many needs pastors face in ministry, people’s apathy or lack of commitment seems like something outside of a pastor’s control to change. After all, you can’t make people care. Among evangelicals, only 49% read “at least a bit” of the Bible daily, and among Protestant churchgoers, on average, 40% engage with Scripture once a week or less. These statistics point to a disconnect between what the people in our pews profess to value and what their actions reveal they value.

So, what’s a pastor to do? How do we address apathy among God’s people?

The Man in the Mirror

The first step is to practice empathy. We need to look ourselves in the mirror and ask whether we are as passionate as we ought to be. For many of us, the answer will be no. In fact, it may be the apathy we find in the church is a mirror image of the apathy in our own hearts. We have to see that apathy is not only a “they” problem.

For example, as a theology professor, when I stand before 50 students to teach about the resurrection and I’m more concerned about whether my favorite sports team won, any apathy in the room is certainly not a “they” problem.

Some of our people may struggle with apathy in ways we don’t. Theirs may be deeper, more pervasive, or more prolonged. Yet, the experience itself is not unique to them. Recognizing this helps rightly orient us toward our congregations. From this posture, we can try to address the very real problem of apathy.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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