I talk to a lot of people who would like to come to church but have legitimate reasons for not doing so. They have fears that don't exist. They have observations that do.
Many people don't come to church because they don't know what to do. They are afraid of looking silly. They believe they will stand when they should have sat. They believe they will be asked to say something that everyone else knows but them. They believe they will be asked to find a verse in the Bible which will reveal they haven't read it. They believe they will be made to feel very uncomfortable. It is much easier to stay home.
Some people don't come to church because they don't have the clothes that they believe church-goers wear. They don't have a need for a suit or a Sunday dress. I see many people attend funerals and weddings in jeans and t-shirts because that's all they have. These people feel they must attend these events but they don't have to go to church. They are afraid church people will laugh at them. Many times I have people call to ask me what people wear to church. It is a big concern.
Unchurched people often think they are not good enough go to church. They tell me that they will get their acts together and then start coming to church. I tell them that people who attend church have a multitude of sins. Sometimes I am afraid I go overboard and the unchurched stops thinking they aren't good enough and starts thinking they will get corrupted by the people in church. The people in church should be examples to the people who do not come. This doesn't make them better than others. Churched people are striving to live a life worthy of Christ.
Many unchurched people believe that the people in the church are talking about them. They believe that they are the topics of gossip. They believe that every conversation is about something that they have done. They believe that churched people are talking about how bad those who live together outside of marriage are. They believe that churched people are judging them. That, at least, isn't true at my church. We don't organize to boycott sinners. We recognize that we are sinners too. We don't have a right to condemn others. In doing so we would condemn ourselves.
The number one reason that the unchurched don't come to church is because they have not been invited. They don't know anyone at church. They have no one to sit with. They have no one they can ask how they should act. They have no one to encourage them. They don't have one friend at church.
We can invite people to come to church. We can become their friends. We can bridge that gap and tell them that the people at church aren't perfect. We can tell them that what they wear isn't important and dress just like them when we come to church. We can tell them that how we do something at church isn't as important as the heart that worships. That is what we can do.
So, what keeps the unchurched out of the church? So often, . . . we do.