6 De-Churching Trends

From Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church into a Godly Life,

Kent Hughes


  1. Hitchhiker Christians: “The hitchhiker’s thumb says, ‘You buy the car, pay for repairs and upkeep and insurance, fill the car with gas—and I’ll ride with you. But if you have an accident, you are on your own! And I’ll probably sue.’ So it is with the credo of many of today’s church attenders: ‘You go to the meetings and serve on the boards and committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills—and I’ll come along for the ride. But if things do not suit me, I’ll criticize and complain and probably bail out. My thumb is always out for a better ride.’
  2. The consumer mentality: Many of today’s Christians shop for a church like they build their supper at a cruise ship buffet. “Ecclesiastical shoppers attend one church for the preaching, send their children to a second church for its youth program, and go to a third church’s small group. Their motto is to ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’” This has often been rightly called, Cafeteria Christianity.
  3. Spectator Christianity: “Spectator Christianity feeds on the delusion that virtue can come through viewing, much like the football fan who imagines that he ingests strength and daring while watching his favorite pro team. Spectator sports and spectator Christianity produce the same thing—fans who cheer the players on while they themselves are in desperate need of engagement and meaning.”
  4. Drive-through Christians: “The nice thing about drive-through restaurants is that you can get what you want in a minimum of time with no more effort than a turn of your power steering. The tragic result is a drive-through nation of overweight, unfit people with an addiction to fast foods. So it is with drive-through Christians, who get their ‘church fix’ out of the way by attending a weeknight church service or early service on Sunday morning so the family can save the bulk of Sunday for the all-important soccer game or recreational trip. Of course, there is an unhappy price extracted over time in the habits and the arteries of a flabby soul—a family that is unfit for the battles of life and has no conception of being Christian soldiers in the great spiritual battle.”
  5. Relationless Christianity: In light of the New Testament call to believers to be part of the life of a community of people, it is ironic “that there are actually churches that trade in anonymity, going so far as to abolish membership and the registry of guests. Some churches have even replaced a pastor-in-the-flesh for a video-projected preacher on the screen—a ‘virtual reality’ version of the church.”
  6. Churchless ‘worshipers’: “The current myth is that a life of worship is possible, even better, apart from the church.” So, instead of faithfully participating in a church, there are self-professing Christians today who prefer to have their own private worship service at a local coffee shop, or down by the lake, or in their living room—pajamas and all!
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