Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"They Love Jesus But Not The Church"

Just returned from a pastor's conference in San Diego and enjoyed a six hour course entitled: "They Love Jesus But Not The Church." The main premise is this: Many young adults admire, honor, respect, worship and try to follow Christ, but they feel that the church, as an institution, gets in the way of people living out their faith in meaningful ways. Recent studies indicate that many young people believe that the church consists of fundamental, homophobic, self-righteous folk who attempt to mold Christ into an American. They believe that they trivalize Christ with slogans, bumper stickers, t-shirts, posters and "Jesus Action Figures" and Jesus Bobbleheads. They also fear that some churches attempt to promote/push a certain political agenda. Comments?


Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor:
You come up with very practical topics in my opinion. The answer? Our church has wonderful traditions and church history. If we respect the work of those gone before us, we will work to keep the ELCA and evangelical Christianity alive going for future generations. I don't think Christianity is a "consumer religion" where you pick and choose what you like. Some people are too self-centered. What's in it for me? What about your unchurched family and friends? Maybe the church has something to offer them too. It takes faith in the Lord! Together we are always stronger.

Small Group - Large Love said...

This book sounds like it's right on the money.

I think the author's evaluation of the current 20- and 30-somethings attitudes and opinions are completely correct. In fact, I think those opinions will be found among 40+ folks as well.

The church has been big on creating and expanding doctrines over the centuries. Eventually, ideas and opinions are forged into NEW doctrines. This is scary stuff. Jesus is always more attractive than all the -isms and -ologies we associate with Him.


Anonymous said...

The George Barna book Revolution talks about this trend. People believe in God, they even put their faith in Christ, but they want nothing to do with churches. I don't fully agree with Barna's staggering numbers of a mass exodus from the pews, but he's right in that there are many people who forgo weekly services.

The main reason why people stay clear of the churches is that those churches don't have anything to offer. Americans today in a land of plenty seldom look for extreme social support. While social programs are important, most people simply need a powerful relationship with God. Sadly, churches are not offering this, being too busy with homeless feeding programs, "loving relationships" that never reach beyond existing long-term member cliques, and the tedium of weekly ritualistic services, both traditional and contemporary.

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Anonymous said...

Timaki is right that we need to build a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My faith is a private matter, but how I live my life and share my witness is a day to day reality. The church is the people of God and we don't always provide a great example. But I would rather be in church on Sunday worshiping in a community of faith than in bed or in front of the T.V. It's a matter of priorities in the end: up to each of us to decide. I love God and all his people.

Anonymous said...

Some more thoughts on Timaki's comments: I think he is right on in many ways: First, we need to build trust in order to share the Gospel. Jesus spent his whole life doing that; his disciples were devoted to Him. Relationship- building is what the church should be about; but no one has any time anymore. In addition, while I personally really enjoy the liturgy, many people do find it tedious. To them, it doesn't seem like an authentic response to worship. I guess I don't go to church looking to be entertained, but the churches with that type of service often have more people attending. Finally, feeding the homeless and helping others in need are vitally important missions to provide a safety net in society. We all need to do our part for the greater good. But we need to make it more of a collaboration, a grateful response from church members, rather than an obligation. Barna is challenging us to be real Christians instead of just faithful church members.