So. Christians are leaving the church.

At this point in time, it’s not exactly a secret that Christians, especially young adults and families, are leaving the church in droves. This seems to be a problem unique to the western world, specifically in America. The question we’re all trying to answer is: why?

America is still a majority Christian country  (http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/). Americans are still interested in spirituality (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/21/americans-spirituality/). Americans still enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. Why, then, is church attendance on the decline? Something just isn’t adding up.

I’ve seen dozens of people try to answer this question. Here I am trying to do just that. Before I give you my thoughts as to why Christians are leaving the church, I want to address why it matters. Why bother talking about this at all? You don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian, right? So, who cares?

The church matters because Scripture says it does. It really is that simple. That’s not an over-simplification nor does it disregard a person’s experience. Scripture is to be our baseline. If the Bible says the church is important than the church is important. While I don’t want to delve too deep into the importance of church attendance, as that is not the topic of today’s post, I will leave a few Scriptures about church you can look up for yourself. (Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:42, Ephesians 4:11-13, Matthew 18:20, Colossians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

We cannot let circumstances or experience  justify disobedience. I fear that is what far too many Christians are doing. We’ve had painful and traumatic experiences in the church and now we don’t want to go back. That’s just plain silly. Would you throw your child’s bicycle away if he or she fell off of it? No. You would help them get better at riding their bike so they’re less likely to fall again. The same can be said about the church. We don’t walk away because of a few bad experiences. No. We get back in there and get to work. You cannot complain about the church if you’re not there. As they say, you can’t change the game sitting on the bleachers.

If church is so important, why are Christians leaving? Well. I started listening to what people were saying. I was really paying attention to their explanation because, frankly, I want to get to the bottom of this. When Christians leave the church, it is about disconnecting from church-going Christians. It has nothing to be with the church building and everything to do with the church goers.

Church-going Christians are hypocrites. They’re judgmental. They don’t do enough to serve the community. They don’t listen. All they care about is money. They didn’t like that I wasn’t a Republican. They keep pushing me to have a baby. They’re too focused on appearance. The list could go on and on and on…

That was my attitude for quite a while but it really isn’t good enough. Yes, Christians are hypocrites. We say one thing and we do another. We don’t always practice what we preach. We can be pretty awful. If you’re comparing me to Christ, yes, I look much worse than our perfect and wonderful Savior. (duh.) But, when we leave the church because of the behavioral issues amongst church-goers, who are you really comparing them to? Christ or yourself?

We look in on the church-goers and think, “I’m not like them.” The reality is: you’re exactly like them. If you can’t see your own short-comings, perhaps that’s an issue of your own pride. For myself, the was exactly what was going on. I elevated myself above other Christians and had to get knocked off my throne. When we compare ourselves to Christ, we are all equally depraved and in need of a savior. The cross is, after all, a great equalizer. If we compare ourselves to one another, we’re really playing a dangerous game. We get into a speck/plank situation. We can see the flaws in those Christians, but not our own.

But, the fact of the matter is church-going Christians can behave in a way that does not represent Christ. I’ve talked about some of my own experiences in the church that left me feeling very hurt and betrayed. Upon reexamination, the problem wasn’t with the entire church, rather a few specific individuals. That’s hardly grounds for disconnecting ourselves from the collective body.

All that being said, I do believe some of the claims being made about the church are worth looking into. For example, a church I attended a few years ago was constantly pressuring congregants to put money in the offering plate. Dig a little deeper, folks. You can give more than that. Give, and it’ll come back to you. This made me uncomfortable as we ought to give joyfully, not out of obligation. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). But, when I did give to the church, the money always went to silly things. We never blessed our community or helped those in need. We spent money on things like new theatrical lights. We didn’t need them. We could have gone without them. I felt conflicted giving this church my money when it wasn’t being spent on anything beneficial. This is merely one example of an issue I believe is worth examining. Of course, there are others.

I could write a book addressing every single issue a Christians has ever brought up and thought to be problematic. Instead, I’ll give you the cliff-notes: we’ve deviated from Scripture.

Most of the “problems” Christians complain about really stem from a deviation from Scripture. Instead of doing things God’s way, we’ve designed our own version of the church. Perhaps, so many Christians have left the church because it’s really no church at all. Sure, this is all just speculation, but the more I hear, the more this all makes sense. As a matter of fact, the biggest reason why I left my last church is because the prosperity gospel was being pushed. I actually did bring this up to some of the church leaders and they assured me I was wrong. So, I left. Had they been preaching sound doctrine, I would likely still be there today.

How about the way in which we interact with one another? Do you see a lot of encouragement or discipleship in the church? Sadly, no. You see people exchanging pleasantries on Sunday morning. Should we not strive for more? Again, this is an issue that stems from a deviation from and disregard for Scripture.

So, what do we do? Yes, there are problems within the church and it can be frustrating to be there. No one understands that more than me. But, we should stay connected (because the Bible says so) and get to work. Writing blog after blog about why other Christians are just the worst isn’t helping anything. We don’t glorify God in doing that. As a matter of fact, it’s just some really good ammunition for non-believers who aim to discredit and disparage the church to use against us. See, even Christians don’t like Christians!

The best thing to do is to get connected to a church that adheres to sound doctrine and start being the hands and feet. Start connecting with other believers. Build them up, encourage them, love them, and pray for them. If you see an issue within your church: change it. You have two hands. You can serve. You don’t have to wait around for someone else to do it.

I know this is one of my longer posts, but I believe this is important information. Please, don’t give up on the church. Because the church matters. Because Scripture says so. The church is so much stronger when we, its members, stand shoulder to shoulder. Spending our time pointing the finger is neither productive nor Biblical. So, let’s stop doing that, eh?

I know this is a touchy subject, but we’ve got to start talking about it. So, as always, let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment. Or you can message me privately on Facebook. Or email me. Or send a messenger owl. Your call.

Take care and God bless

 

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Suggested post: How to articulate heartache

12 thoughts on “So. Christians are leaving the church.

  1. Love your approach in this post – in my experience God seems to take a back seat to programs when God should be the one who leads us to do the programs – don’t do it and say God bless it – wait on God and let Him say do it because He will always bless what He instructs us to do – we don’t name it and claim it, He is the one that names it and claims it as His own

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  2. Yes I do believe that when we’re alone we can hear the word of God. At the sametime, we need to recharge ourselves with likeminded Christians. The church may not provide all our spiritual needs but it is a good thing to be able to gel with people.

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    1. Could not agree more, Siam. I have had moments (and I’m sure you have too) where you’ve had a very profound experience while alone. I’ve been brought to tears sitting by myself reading my Bible. But I do like what you said about recharging. I believe that our brothers and sisters are important for our walk with God. We weren’t really meant to walk through this life alone. And you’re right, the church cannot meet ALL of our spiritual needs. The church, as a collective body, is not the Lord. But…it matters

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  3. The assertion is made that America is still a Christian country. Really? Then why do we allow such terrible sins to become “rights” such as abortion and Christians accept this?

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    1. I think, perhaps, you misunderstood my point. My point was that we are still a majority Christian nation. Meaning, when examining the religious beliefs of American adults, the majority (over 70%) identify themselves as Christian. If my phrasing confused you, I apologize. I will re-read the post and make sure my wording is clear. As far as abortion goes, I am inclined to agree with you. I am shocked by the number of professing Christians that seem to have absolutely no moral objection to abortion. No disagreement from me there.

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    2. As a Christian who does not want anyone to get an abortion but I do not want a law banning it, I can explain. Thou shall not kill is obviously not a black & white issue that many of our faith believe it is. If thou shall not kill was absolute, God would not have commanded his people to kill every man woman, child, and infant when attacking the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15).

      God never mentions abortion, but he does call for his people in this situation to kill infants. Now, I’m not suggesting he likes killing infants or that this means we should do it. However, I don’t believe the Christian thought of every baby life is precious and priceless is biblically supported. I believe every baby who dies goes to our Lord. Whether that is in the womb or out of it. You can’t believe in a loving God and believe he lets babies die never having a chance to know him and they just die or go to hell. That isn’t the loving God I read about in the Bible.

      Additionally, the more we try to force people to live certain ways, the less their choices of obedience are their own choice. There is also exodus 21:22 that says that if a child inside a woman’s womb is killed while men are fighting and that child dies, he shall pay whatever the husband sets the price of that child at. This suggests that we as parents determine what are children are worth to us. I believe abortion should be avoided whenever possible, but the childs parents determine the value of the child. Would the world be better if every child was perfectly cared for to become adults? Yes. I would never be okay with an abortion of my own child, but there are a lot of things many Christians do to people that I’m equally not okay with. If what they do is between them and God, so is abortion between the parents and God.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Post. I agree with everything you said. You’re definitely taking a different perspective than some of the disagreements we’ve had in the past. I appreciate the message here and I hope some follow your example.

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    1. Good to hear from you! Truth be told, I was speaking to myself quite a bit in this post. It’s hard to want to reconnect when you’ve had a painful experience in the church. I may be doing a podcast on the subject this week. Haven’t decided yet 😀

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  5. This post is something to read and reread. I believe whole heartedly that you have hit a nail on the head. I was raised Catholic, and the church I used to go to would literally have every parishioners name and what they were giving in offerings in the office. And the priest knew everyone in the parish and would remind you that you haven’t sent in your offering yet. And then that money would be used for frivolous things. Needless to say I don’t go there anymore. I’m more of a Methodist now, but don’t really consider myself any specific denomination. I consider myself a Christian. And I don’t believe the church that I am attending is important as long as the message and teachings are in line with scripture. But I want to thank you for your eloquent and fully explained thoughts on this subject. I am a new blogger and am trying to get the hang of things and get my own blog going. Thank you and God Bless!!

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