Several years ago, I asked on Facebook: Why are so many people, especially young people walking away from church and/or God? I received candid answers. Here are two examples:

Mike – I either was always saved or getting saved, until I learned how to fake it! It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I realized the church has become — a country club. It’s where people go to gather in large beautiful buildings. Where they feed the hungry 2-3 times a year and themselves each week. Where people who claim to be Christians on Sunday, rarely live it on Monday.

My stomach literally turned over as I read his answer: Fake it? Country club? Buildings? But the two accusations that really bothered me: Feed the hungry 2-3 times per year and themselves each week. The last one seems to sum up how Mike along with many others feel: You claim to be Christians on Sunday but rarely live it on Monday.

Jesus said something similar: “They don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show.” Mat. 23:3-5

It’s scary to read Mike’s answer but when Jesus makes the same statement you have to pause.

Susan – As a high school counselor, I have a lot of thoughts on this, especially since I no longer attend. I was a youth director for two different churches. I raised both older ones in the church, even after their father left us. After he left, we were not always treated kindly. My two-year-old has been once, at 2 months old for baptism but I found the service hollow and couldn’t pretend that I wanted these people to help me “raise” him. I am FAR, FAR from perfect but I crave authenticity, I rarely find it and almost never in churches I attended. Our youth don’t attend for the same reasons. They KNOW and SEE when we are lying, they see FEW adults that are truly HAPPY in their lives. They are NOT inspired by us! I have sat with SO many kids and had the most spiritual conversations WITHOUT invoking the word GOD in a public school. THEY CRAVE to hear about our Creator. They CRAVE direction and they CRAVE our HONEST attention. NO ONE talks openly or honestly about anything.

This comment makes me cry for Susan and for others who have been hurt by the church I love.
• Susan was involved, experienced a crisis and the church did not “treat her kindly.”
• She craves authenticity within the church and can’t find it.
• The youth she talks to see our lies, see that we are not happy and are not inspired by us.
• They crave spiritual conversations, crave direction and crave honest attention from us.
• But they don’t receive it. “No one talks very openly or honestly about anything.

These are tough accusations to digest but after sharing these comments with others inside and outside the church; I believe they represent a huge block of people no longer satisfied with church as usual.

After Mike shared what was wrong with the church, he offered this advice:

“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.”

Sound advice. Now what? Next week