Why the Sunday Scaries are Keeping People Away from Church (And How to Change That)


TGIF is now giving way to the "Sunday Scaries." Explore why Sunday might be keeping people from church and how a revamped Sunday service can turn things around.

I’m guessing you’ve heard the term T.G.I.F.

Thank God it’s Friday!

But have you heard of the “Sunday Scaries?”

The Sunday Scaries are Real!

Yes, that’s an actual term coined by several research studies over the past decade.

We know why Friday is good. While most people work on Friday, it’s the last day before we experience our weekend. Working for the weekend makes Friday a day to cherish.

And this is precisely why Sunday has become the least happy day of the week.

If you’re a pastor or lead a church, this reality is critical for us to understand.

As we all know, anxiety, stress, and depression are increasing. This has been true for a while, but the pandemic was a poor mental health accelerator.

Many aspects of life create stress and anxiety, with work near the top of the list. Hence, the Sunday Scaries.

Your Church and the Sunday Scaries

Sunday is a weekend day when most people do not work. Still, in our ever-increasing anxious culture, the thought of Monday is now ruining Sunday.

The Sunday Scaries are affecting your church.

The negative emotions associated with Sunday do not lead people to church but away from church. Think about it. If you are an ordinary working person who now dreads Sunday, taking several hours out of your day for church doesn’t help you much. Especially if your church experience isn’t combatting the negative emotions present on Sunday.

Life Just Isn’t as Fun Anymore

Life is more strenuous than it should be. As I mentioned a few posts ago, this is one pandemic consequence. We all lived through a worldwide damaging season. We lost so much. Relationships were strained. Marriages suffered. Work was harder. Kids were at home, and we were responsible for their education, too.

Most everyone exited the pandemic mentally and emotionally worse than before it began.

Basically, the last few years have been a fun suck.

We struggle to have as much fun as before. And we dread things more than before. We’re more uncertain, more stressed, and more afraid.

Put this all together; we are tired, frustrated, and just making it through life as best we can.

Let’s Make Sunday The Best Day of the Week

While life works against Sunday being a fun day, we have an opportunity in our churches to reverse this trend.

We are the keeps of the “Good News.” What if we begin treating this “good” news as truly good?

Here are some tips for your church to make Sunday the best day of the week:

1. Make Your Church Service Fun

Most churches and church services are pretty dull. And entirely too predictable. AKA: Predictably boring.

    • The Bible doesn’t prescribe church to be boring or irrelevant. So let’s make it fun.
    • Play games during your pre-service time.
    • Create an experience in your auditorium connected to your sermon or series.
    • Dress up your Guest Services volunteers.
    • Bring in different music styles to create worship.
    • Change how you deliver sermons (interviews, video clips, etc.).

There are so many ways to make the service more engaging and fun. People need more fun.

2. Use Your Parking Lot for More Than Parking

Every church has a captive audience driving into the parking lot for in-person church services. I love seeing parking lot volunteers outside, but not to help people find a space.

Adults have been parking for decades. These volunteers should serve more as greeters. They should have fun in the parking lot. Give them wagons to pull kids into the church building. Give them permission to dance or have fun with their job.

Basically, stop seeing your parking lot as a place for cars and more as a place to create some fun.

3. Lighten Up on Social Media

Hill City Church in Richmond, Virginia, does this really well. They are a fun church that expresses their joy everywhere, including online.

For instance, they just celebrated their 9th church anniversary. Their service was so fun, but look at their social media. This feels like a place worth attending and engaging. They aren’t quoting verses; they’re connecting with people. Through fun!

4. Program for Energy

Why do churches tend to see introspection and sadness as the only emotions allowed in church?

I’m not against contemplation or a slower pace. In fact, I think this can be necessary in our fast-paced world — at times. But not all the time. And not as a norm.

Worship leaders tend to be the greatest offender here. Not always, but as a rule, worship leaders like to inspire vulnerability and contemplation. That’s fine at times, but it’s not fun. At all!

As you consider your entire church service, look at the hour (or whatever your time) as one expanded narrative. Within this story, be sure to celebrate, laugh, and connect.

5. Celebrate Every Week

Celebrating is a positive emotion that we too often overlook.

Every week, we can and should share stories of life change. This could range from baptisms to student ministry retreats to preschool silliness.

People are more likely to attend and engage with something that is winning. Celebrations are fun and position our church as winners.

6. Preach Personally and Lightly

This comes more naturally for some than others, but we can all improve our communication content and approach.

If you’re naturally funny, bring that to the pulpit. Don’t take yourself too seriously or your message. Have fun with it.

If you are not gifted with humor, no worries. You can still share fun stories and quotes.

I’m preaching this weekend at a church and beginning my message with something funny that happened to me at Starbucks. I think people will smile. Perhaps even laugh. That’s the goal of this story. I want to break down some barriers early in the sermon, and humor is the best mechanism to do this.

Life Is Too Serious

Life is hard. Church shouldn’t be.

People have enough challenges outside of church. What would happen if we began seeing Sunday morning as our opportunity to give people a break from their daily life of stress and fatigue? What if Sunday was the most fun day of the week because our church gave people an alternative to life as usual?

Do your community and congregation a favor: Add something fun to your church this week. The Gospel is serious business, but it doesn’t require we always strike a serious tone.