[Sometimes when I get writers block while sermon writing and in order to overcome it I write what comes to my mind. This stuff has been on my heart for a long while and I think I just needed to get it out. It may sound negative, and it is. But that does not mean it isn’t true! All I ask is you forgive the awkwardness of the style – they are just random unedited thoughts. :)]
I cannot remember a time when I knew so many Christians disenfranchised with church. Angry ex-Pentecostals, disgruntled Baptists, faithless Catholics and even the odd Church of Christ person in the mix. It appears to be at almost epidemic levels. Young people, older people and all of those in between.
What has happened? Why have so many grown so weary? Why do so few seem to want to stay the course? All of those I know who have taken themselves out of the fellowship of other Christian’s would not hesitate to identify themselves as Christian. Some make the rather lame argument that they are able to worship God outside of church. To me this seems like a feckless spirituality and the argument has no biblical basis. Sure, there are seasons in which people may need to step away from the church but it should not be the norm. My wife and I did this for a season but always with the conviction that we would return.
Is it entirely their fault? What has happened? Why do so many Christians burn out and leave church?
There has been a growing trend in churches over the past 3 decades to model the organisation on big business. The picture of the quiet parish has been replaced by the big wheels of industry. Prayer meetings and Bible studies have given way to strategic meetings and leadership development. The church has become a machine. As one person is spat out another enters the machine and keeps the big wheels turning. The person is rarely missed. Is it any wonder they never return?!?!
It seems to me that the ‘project’ to make the church more professional, more slick, more appealing and relevant, has failed (At least by gospel standards). While big churches get bigger and smaller churches get smaller are we seeing any discernable changes in the way Christian’s live their lives? Are we seeing Christians’ make the radical decisions to lay down their life and follow Jesus and become disciples of him? I am sure we are but the attrition rate is much more noticeable. The standards by which we judge the ‘success’ of Christian mission are not the same as those applied to bottom lines of fortune 500 companies. Big or small it does not matter. What matters is how we live as God’s people. How we live as disciples of Jesus.
It seems to me the church is disorientated. For far too long we have been asking the wrong questions (Or maybe I have). Jesus never asked the questions that are being asked in the church today. He asked us to come follow him; to lay down our lives and pick up our cross. He asked us to worship him in spirit and truth, to remember the poor and disadvantaged, to follow the Law and, to be a witness in the world. Why is this so hard to achieve?