I belong to a wonderful Godly church but for the past year, I have not had any desire to attend. Do you have any advice for me?
This is a comment I hear more and more. From talking about it with lots of different folks of all walks of life, I think these are some of the reasons why people are feeling this way more and more about “church” (all or part of any of these reasons may apply):
- Churches have become so market driven and seeker friendly that they have lost any real power to change lives and mostly exist to meet needs, or provide a “Christian” social gathering.
- Church has become more about “experience” and “entertainment” than the assembly of saints for the purpose of honoring God, learning His word together and demonstrating our love for each other so that a loveless world will see that and know that we are different.
- Churches are made of people we primarily only know about and see “at church”. Churches nowadays aren’t typically a local community who live near each other, work together, take care of each other, look out for each other and “live life” during the week. Churches are filled with commuters and “church shoppers” who come their because the church meets their needs. We only see these folks inside the church doors, for a short busy time, and rarely do more than greet and smile alot. It feels good, but lacks real depth. Relationships built on a 30 second smile and hug once a week are not relationships that notice or take time for those very same people when the storms of life come raging.
- I hear stories all the time of people who attend a church for 10 years, are really involved, do alot of service… then for some reason have something in their life that discourages them or drags them down away from the church – and they never hear from anyone except the occasional coincidence when they run into someone who says “I was wondering where you were; I’ve been meaning to call”.
- We have just become too busy and too affluent to really slow down and care about people, invest in their lives and take time for them. Likewise, churches have become centers of “busy”ness, programs, iniatives, building efforts and endless activities. Added to our endless schedules outside church, and it’s just too hectic of a pace to really get to know anyone or have time for them.
- Churches have become a mess of professional production, business, marketing, careers and politics. High budgets, paid staffs, expensive building and lots of inter-church competitiont keep the pressure high to “run the business” at the cost of “soul care”.
- There is too much competition for our time and attention to have “church” really attract us if it has become nothing more than entertainment and busyness.
That’s from the “church” side. From the viewpoint of individuals, I have found by my conversations that:
- People are so entertainment oriented, church doesn’t hold their attention anymore.
- People are so “me” minded, that if the church is not feeding “me” and taking care of “my needs”, they become disenchanted.
- People are so poorly taught, spiritually selfish and devoid of spiritual discernment that they lose their desire for church simply because they don’t “feel good” about it.
- People are generally pampered and soft emotionally; they get easily discourage and want other Christians to continually encourage them and stroke them into action. This is both a consequence of very poor Bible teaching and our overly indulged society.
It’s hard to pinpoint exact reasons or solutions because there are so many variables, circumstances and of course the one thing that always ruins everything: the sinful nature of man.
Now that I’ve offended just about every one – from the church staffer, preacher and church leader to the spiritually soft individual – let’s look at a few things to consider.
- What’s the spiritual state of the church?
- What’s the spiritual state of the person?
- It could be partly the church, and partly the person.
- It could be all the church, or all the person.
It could be that the “bored with church” person simply needs a good kick in the pants and needs to get moving spiritually. Or it could be that the church is dying spiritually, lukewarm or a “feel good” spiritual junk food fest that is slowly causing all its members to be spiritually malnourished. You can only eat so many donuts and icecream before you 1) get sick of it, and 2) becoming sick.
From an individual viewpoint, a Christian needs to realize that a church is about serving, loving, worshipping and being part of a family. It’s not “what’s in it for me”, “how does it make me feel”.
Once our personal attitude about the assembly of believers is in line, then we may have think about whether or not “traditional church” is still the best, or only choice.
The early church started out meeting as local groups in homes. It was an intimate gathering of a community of believers in the natural setting of someone’s home – the same place they lived the rest of the week. “Church” wasn’t something separate and compartmentalized from the rest of their life. It was a part of their life.
The growing discontent with “professional” church as a “business” has seen the current rise and return of the basic home church. A group of people who live and work in the same area simply meet together on Sunday to learn the Bible, worship in song, fellowship, take care of each others needs and prepare to go back out in the world to witness for Christ.
No paid staff, no buildings, no politics, no governing organizations. Just the simplicity of the assembly of saints together, with spiritually mature men shepherding and teaching (Elders), honest and trustworthy men leading (deacons) and the entire group serving each in their own gift and capacity as blessed by God.
My advice? If the problem is with YOU spiritually, then I would seek out several spiritually mature friends who will hold you accountable and get you out of your lukewarmness.
If the problem is that “Church” has become “church” and not “the assembling of saints” as it should be, then consider a home church. Consider starting a home church in your neighborhood. Discover the blessing of the early church who lived “church” where they actually lived the rest of the time.