New poll: how far do you live from your church?

How far do you live from your church?

The question of distance from church has been on my mind a lot lately. I realized the other day that I've never, in my entire life, lived within walking distance of any of the churches I've attended—it's always been a bit of a drive across or into town to get to church.

Is that weird? Unhealthy even?

I can think of a lot of reasons why it's better to live close to the church you attend. It's easier to be involved with everyday church activities when you can walk or bike there easily. You don't burn as much $4.00 gas getting to the worship service on Sunday. (And of course, you can get an extra twenty minutes of sleep on Sunday mornings if you don't have a twenty-minute commute to church.)

So, I've put together a poll to find out where you all stand. Take the poll (on the right side of the page) and let us know how far you travel to get to your church on Sunday. Then share your thoughts below! Here's a few discussion questions to consider:

  • Are you happy with your current distance from church? Would you like to be closer or farther?
  • Do most of the people at your church live in the close vicinity of church, or does much of your congregation have a commute? How does that affect the everyday life of your church?
  • What positive/negative things have you found in your own experience about living nearer or farther from church?

Oh, and as for last week's poll: 150 of you chimed in to say which Narnia book you were most looking forward to seeing on the big screen. Here's how you voted:

  • 29% are looking forward to The Last Battle. (Here's hoping the Narnia movies remain popular/profitable enough to make it all the way to the end of the line!)
  • An especially astute 23% want to see Dawn Treader.
  • Closely lined up behind those two are The Magician's Nephew (18%), The Horse and His Boy (11%), and The Silver Chair (10%).
  • And a desperate 9% pleaded that there be no more Narnia movies.

Thanks as always for participating. Now go vote in the new poll, and share your thoughts below about commuting to church!

update: Oops, I lied. I did live within walking distance of a church at one point, during my brief time in grad school in Chicago. It was really nice, but I wasn't there long enough to get heavily involved in the church.

Comments (30)

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Last year, living in Hong Kong, my flat was just about a fifteen minute walk from our church - and I loved it.  Sure, you get pretty sweaty walking through a super-crowded city in subtropical weather, but it sure was nice not to drive!

1.1 miles according to Google Maps. My office is on the way to the church, they are about three blocks apart. I bike to the office as often as possible. We live in a pretty small town of about 14k, so it’s not too far to anything.

I live just a five minute walk from my church and I love it.  When I relocated here it put me 45 minutes (by car) from the old one, and that was simply too far to allow me to be involved.  So I began shopping around.

Being so close has had no negatives for me, and many other attendees are also reasonably close, although some commute in with a 15-minute or so drive.  I love that I can go wander about my neighborhood or downtown and encounter my “extended family” on the way.  I want to have the kind of church family that I’ll see more than once a week!

I wish I was within easy walking distance - I was for a long time and then changed churches because of major problems with an unethical pastor.  Now the church I attend has excellent pastors and a very good program for all of our family, but it is a new building on the edge of town (the other building that was in town burned down and rebuilding on the in town lot was not a good idea).  We may be able to bike there, but of course that won’t work in the winter. 

I think being out of town has hurt attendance some - especially when weather is bad.  We are now growing in numbers, and will have to see if participation grows also.

Man, walking distance… I live a 45 minute drive from my church. That should clue you into its being a good church. Thankfully I have a friend who lives about halfway and also attends, so I usually carpool.

- A

Hi everyone, I don’t comment that often but thought you might appreciate a different perspective on this. I live in France where I pastor a small church started some fifteen years ago as a result of a pioneer missionary plant. I live quite close to the church. I usually cycle and it takes about ten minutes. But then I’m lucky. Very few of our congregation actually live in town (one other family and two single ladies). The vast majority of our congregation of about 50 adults and 10 children drive between 15-20 minutes to get to church. Two families drive for half an hour (or slightly more) to get the Sunday service. This is not because they prefer our church to other churches in the area. We are the only church in our town and the nearest church for everyone with the exception of one family. This family lives almost equdistant from two churches but are probably closer to our partner church. However to reach this church they have to cross a mountain pass, not always possible in winter. So they come to our church. This means most of our weekly meetings are decentralised; we have three different cell groups for study, prayer and fellowship. The church elders live up to an hour away from each other.

Just thought you might like to see how things are elsewhere.

The church I attend now was the first one I’ve ever chosen to attend especially for how close it is to where I live. It’s a Methodist church right in the heart of our town. I’m sad, now, to discover that they are eventually planning on moving a few miles outside of the town (Maybe when they move, I’ll connect with the Presbyterian church one block away, in the heart of our town). In any case, for now, I’m really glad to be a part of a church that is a part of the community that I’m part of.  Two posts which have shaped my thinking on attending an as-local-as-possible church are:

Small church 5 miles away. Pastor lives another 5 miles further. Events on sundays and Wednesdays only, anyhow. What I believe is important is the sense of community when we are there, and away. I don’t pick a church to save gas, I pick a church to serve God.

I live about five miles from my church building (we really should say it that way, but that’s another conversation).  Most of our members are “local” (it’s a “semi-rural” community), but a few come from a significant distance because they’ve been “burned” at other churches and feel “accepted” in our fellowship.

To me, it’s not necessarily the distance, but being part of a church based in the community in which you live. I respect those who feel led to traverse a significant distance for the doctrines, programs, etc. (or the above-mentioned consideration),  but if we’re trying to reach our neighbors and build disciples following the “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria” model, why would we not try to find a fellowship close to home?

If a Bible-believing church does not exist in the community (and all will be imperfect), I would be part of a church with a plan to plant one in my community…

A little bit opposite approach from some others - rather than choosing a church based on its proximity to us, we chose to buy a house close to our church building. I love walking the two blocks with my family to church - and yes, we are there often during the week because it is so convenient. A number of other families have chosen to do the same, so we live within blocks of each other. This gives us a great sense of this truly being “our community” which we are praying and working to win for Jesus. It also helps with sharing childcare! :-)

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