Why Are So Many Saints Dumping Church
One particular phenomenon that is surely an aggravation to numerous church leaders is the growing trend of Christian believers dumping church, or at least seeking something uniquely different from what has been the norm. It reminds me of a message I heard 20+ years ago relating church to the railroad industry. The railroad industry was failing because they forgot that they were in the transportation business. Likewise, maybe the church has forgotten what ‘business’ it should be in.
First, what are the beefs that so many have regarding the church today? (in no particular order)
(generalized remarks & observations)
- The church has become an institution rather than a community.
- Many pastors are more CEO than Servant/Shepherd.
- Take away buildings, paid staff and programs and what is left? Could your people still function as a church without these?
- People don’t care much about the insignificant doctrinal differences that divide us.
- The way we do church is so impersonal keeping us from developing true relationships. Not much different than going to a football game or concert. It’s all about the ‘stars’ performing for the audience with no interaction other than a little cheering.
- Kingdoms are being built, just not His.
- The ‘mega’ church movement often seems totally opposite of those seeking ‘simple-organic’ New Testament style church.
- Many churches and pastors are territorial and self-serving, not recognizing anything or anyone beyond their own borders.
- Much of the teaching is influenced by denomination, tradition, and unsubstantiated here-say without any real biblical foundation.
- The church as we know it is not impacting our world for Christ. It is not relevant to either the lost or the true seeker wanting something real.
- While the church is congregational, it is not community.
So what’s it going to take to change our world? What are these ‘rebellious’ people looking for?
- There is a genuine hunger for something real, unpolluted by the politics and self-centeredness of religious leaders and organizations.
- Most of those fitting this category are longing for true relationships, real community where people feel wanted, loved and accepted, where everybody knows your name, where formal is replaced with non-pretentious, where it’s okay to be real.
- Most do not care about buildings, budgets, pastoral titles, programs, or doctrinal statements. They want a genuine encounter with Jesus and to hang out with His friends.
- Most are not concerned about how many or where. It could be 3 people or 30, meeting in a house, coffee shop, park, or even the local pub.
- Agreement is based on the essentials, the things that really matter. Our ‘oneness’ is found in Jesus and being in relationship with Him. So it’s great to fellowship and ‘break bread’ with those who meet in other places, have a different name on the door, but seek relationship with the same Jesus.
- Reaching our world is done through being like Jesus to those who don’t know Him and to those who do know Him.
- Freedom from religion and the controlling spirit that dwells in it!
This is one guy’s interpretation or observation. But it’s reflective of dozens if not hundreds of conversations with many like-minded people who are longing for the real, just like me. I continue to be amazed at the similarity of thought of so many. Some are still in traditional style churches but many Jesus people are not actually even involved in or attending the organized structured church. As an example, according to a lady who sends a newsletter to non-attending believers in Central Oregon, the largest singular group of believers in the area are the non-attenders. I’ve also read that according to research, there are over 10 million believers in America not involved in a local church. Certainly there are those who have left for all the wrong reasons but this doesn’t account for probably the majority.
I am a firm believer that this unrest is of God. The organized church as we know it has strayed far from His design. He is longing for a people who will look to Him and not to man and his agenda. A people who desire to be a church closer to what the Holy Spirit birthed as seen in the book of Acts. It needs to be about Jesus and not about some ‘superstar’ and his or her program.
My own journey into questioning the ‘system’ started at about age 19. Growing up in a pastor’s home and surrounded by a culture immersed in the evangelical, fundamentalist model, I was baptized into the lifestyle and teaching of many rules, a lot of fear, thousands of meetings, and numerous alter calls. Everything began to change inside of me after being invited to a young ‘Jesus people’ bible study on Saturday nights. For the first time I experienced a sense of true community and heard a gospel that focused on the fact that God loved us and desired to be in relationship with us. This was all new to me but somehow resonated real life. I wanted more.
So now I’ve come to a place many years later where I find the typical church model somewhat lacking with it’s focus on building on the pastors agenda, living for the program, attending the services, being part of an institutional model that seems so sterile and lifeless. Instead, I seek real community, a thriving environment of real people pursuing true relationship, unencumbered by all the stuff that gets in the way of becoming the church that God has called us to be. If I was alone in this desire, I’d certainly feel the ‘odd man out’ application applies. But I now know there are thousands like me all over the world who seek the authentic.