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Many Churches are Foregoing Jesus to Increase Attendance at Christmas

Contact: Jon Hirst, The Well, 719-362-5235, jhirst@dotheword.org

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif., Dec. 22 /Christian Newswire/ -- One year after George Barna's survey was released showing that only one out of every five adults say they are likely to attend more religious services during the holiday season than they normally do, one Southern California house church leader is concerned that little has changed in how churches approach the holidays. House church leader Ken Eastburn says many churches are foregoing Jesus during Christmas in an effort to try and increase the attendance, "Step into an increasing number of churches on Christmas and you'll find three things: children's productions, special music, and family photo opportunities. What you may not find is the astonishing message of Jesus Christ."

Barna conducted the survey in November 2008, commenting, "In past decades there was an assumption that the holidays were a time when outsiders might explore church life. These days, however, churches and other religious institutions are not seen as safe or value-adding places by most outsiders."

"Of course churches are not seen as value-adding places! We've exchanged the world-changing message of the Gospel for crowded sanctuaries focused on entertainment," says Eastburn, "The truth is that we don't actually trust Jesus to draw the lost through our preaching. So we dress Him up with a bunch of other attractions."

Eastburn is a leader with The Well, a network of home-based churches in California and Colorado. After selling their building in 2005, members began meeting in each other's homes where they go without the entertainment devices often present in traditional churches.

He continues, "What is unfortunate about this is that our efforts have the exact opposite effect and actually end up pushing people away. That's why, despite the influx of visitors during this season, churches will be right back where they were within just a couple of weeks. Christmas services are rarely compelling or life-changing. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- well, that never returns void."

The Well hosts 10-15 members at each of its five locations on a weekly basis. Eastburn and other members post their experiences on a blog maintained by the church, www.leavethebuildingblog.com, with the purpose of interacting with individuals from traditional and house church backgrounds.