a photo of a young girl sitting in a church pew looking at the large glass windows at the front of the church

COGNOSCENTI | Why our family still makes time for church on Sundays

“On Sunday mornings, our family does something unusual. We wake our three teenagers earlier than they want, shower and dress up a little bit, and drive seven minutes up the road to our local church. Nearly 10 years ago, the Pew Research Center concluded our state, Connecticut, had one of the lowest levels of church attendance in the nation. As much as our family values our participation in a church community, with each passing year, it becomes more and more likely that we will join our New England neighbors and the 40 million Americans who have stopped going to church in the past 25 years…”
And here’s how Cognoscenti introduces this essay…
When we think of people who stop attending church, we usually think of those who left because of acute hurts: the ones who experienced or bore witness to clergy sexual or spiritual abuse, the ones who felt they had no option but to leave institutions that perpetuated racism or misogyny, homophobia or all of the above. But 75% of the people who stop attending church drift away for no particular reason.
Amy Julia Becker is doing everything she can to keep her family from becoming one of those statistics.
“These days, it’s rare that our family of five sits together in the pews come Sunday morning,” she explains. And she’s thought about when and whether to give her teenagers the freedom to sleep in on Sunday mornings. “I want them to know they have agency over their spiritual lives. But I also think if they walked away from church they would be more likely to experience the loneliness and disconnection felt by so many of their peers.”
Last May, she points out, the surgeon general issued a report on the health effects of loneliness and isolation. He called for greater social connection and community as a matter of public health. “We are drifting away from one another, and, even more so, from the institutions that connect us — institutions like church — even as we are in desperate need of them,” writes Becker.
“In a world that is overpopulated with distraction, entertainment, productivity and busyness, our attendance at church invites us to create time and space to pay attention to each other and to transcendent truths embodied in real people,” Becker writes. “So we will continue to show up, even if erratically, on Sunday mornings.”


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