Why don’t people go to church?
I asked the question on Facebook and received many responses but highlighted two especially meaningful answers from Mike and Susan. I found it helpful to hear from a large block of people who believe in God but are no longer satisfied with church as usual.
Most of the comments were in these general categories:
We’re hypocritical; say one thing and do another.
We’re too focused on getting converts for our church rather than genuinely caring about the needs of others: “Do you really care about me or am I just a target?”
We’re too sheltered — out of touch with reality.
We are quick to judge others and slow to be honest about our own shortcomings.
Did you know Jesus said much the same thing to religious leaders in Matthew 23? Here are a few examples but I encourage you to read the entire chapter: “Everything you do is for show – Hypocrites! For you are so careful to tithe even the tiniest income but you ignore the more important aspects of the law: justice, mercy and faith. – You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish but inside you are filthy.” So, even Jesus said we are hypocrites.
Janice: “I have been in similar situations at different points during my life. Right now, I am coming to terms with my relationship with God, and my relationship with the church and its imperfections. I attend church because I enjoy the fellowship of friends and the company of like-minds but I am still seeking that deep relationship that I see in others.”
After reading all the accusations — I confess that at times, I am guilty. I am hypocritical. We are too focused on getting converts for selfish reasons. I am often out of touch with the real world. We are too quick to judge others. I declare myself guilty, guilty and guilty.
Being guilty is why I need God and why we need the church. We are guilty and our message should be to anyone outside the church walls: Come join us “guilty folks” as we look to God for answers.
I heard one preacher describe church as much like a museum. “Enjoy the exhibits but don’t touch anything.”
Wouldn’t it be exciting if our churches were more like hospitals, busy saving lives throughout the community.
Unnamed writer: “Until we adults learn the lessons we preach and we all learn the Holy Spirit remains with us each and everyday, we will continue to struggle with hypocrisy, rudeness, and all of the other human frailities.”
“Ultimately, we must understand it is like Mike said, it is about relationships — our personal relationship with God and our individual relationships with the God in each of us. Improve those and the Church succeeds in its mission.”
Leigh wrote: “Until we learn the lessons we preach and we all learn that the Holy Spirit remains with us each and every day, we will continue to struggle with hypocrisy, rudeness and all of the other human frailties. Ultimately, we must understand it is like Mike said, it is about relationships. Improve those and the Church succeeds in its mission.”
Mike: “We (the church) need to go back to the basics. Give me people who “know” God and desire to see others come to this knowledge. Let us then go and “live” the word through our actions daily, integrated into a lost world, loving it.”
We need to go back to the basics of being the church.
We need to “know” God and desire to see others come to this knowledge.
We need to go and “live” the word through our actions daily, integrated into a lost world, loving it.
But how do we do that?
Going back to the basics is not a new program or sermon series. No! The key words are relationship and encouragement: Our relationship with God and the encouragement we receive and how that relationship ultimately leads to our being encouragers of others.
Next: Encouragement: Why I left the church and why I came back.