Or why people are leaving the church but not leaving God.
I love me some God. I have been infatuated by God since struggling with whether to confirm my faith or not as a teenager. God has been good to me when things have gone well or bad.But the church…we’re seeing other people right now.
And you would think that with as transformative effect God had on my life it would lead to a more…loving relationship with the insititutional church but nope. We are not on speaking terms right now.
So what is the driver with this? Well for me it was while I was comforted and surround by God the church somehow has managed to make the same events a living hell.
How does the this happen?
The Church is a dystopic reflection of society..
In the US we believe that to succeed it is all on you and you do by pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. It has gradually torn down our society with people interacting less and less. And when we do interact it’s competitive, tearing each other down and a very tiny few control all the resources and power.
Well the church is the same way. Sermon after sermon is driven at how YOU can do more to be more productive. You should be doing more within the church or You will not be as valued of a member. Those who give more get the most say and choice over who the pastor will be and ultimately what sermons are taught.
Sooo people with money tend to believe here in the US that the working classes are lazy. Oh some won’t say that but the sermons reflect that. So they feel through God of course that sending the message that if you are poor you have a moral failing and should work harder and harder. (and of course give and spend on their products) That concept of the poor being first and inheriting the Earth and all that…yeah no that isn’t really what God meant.
So is it any wonder that from the largest mega church to smallest country church people are fed up with being beaten down and are leaving in droves.
The Church doesn’t really help anyone.
Oh sure there are a few programs here and there that work but in general the church has been failing world wide at its core missions. The first of which is help people find and nurture a relationship with God. As I mentioned earlier the bulk of the sermons have to do nowadays with either giving to the body or how to improve performance to get money to give. Most churches these days stop relationship development at that question…do you believe in Jesus as your lord and savior?
The second is the church’s failure to seek justice in the world. In the US context the church has been a very quiet voice as an institution regarding the killing of the mentally ill and Blacks. They have been quick to sit on a high horse regarding single mothers and then are shocked…shocked…when these women and their children write off the church. Meanwhile in lieu of taking on the situations at lead to expensive housing, food, and poor paying jobs, they send home small food packets with kids. It’s resorted to the same useless band aids of the US government.
Finally, community has been sacrificed on the altar of “quality of worship”. There is nothing wrong with modern christian music or modern formats of worship. But when the wealthy get the “good seats” and access to the “special services for partners” the church has lost its way and needs to repent.
So I am seeing other people right now. I am seeing my wife and kids and family and friends. We are seeking to be together an in that seeking relationship and through that God.
So can the Church be saved?
Long term yes. Short term no. Long term the church needs to revert back to being a community seeking God a place when a broken person entering in sees hope in action and finds peace. A handshake and a coffee isn’t enough to attain this.
One of most cherished memories was going home to my home church…long gone…to see the guys making breakfast, some playing cribbage with the pastor, kids playing hide and seek. We would then go and just worship together for a while and once a month everyone would get together and bring a dish for a community supper.
We were together, when we sought to be active we participated in community action, protests, politics. We took action independently and in community and we made a difference. That is what I remember and that has been what I realize is so needed right now.
But community is built over time and it takes trust, pain, joy, and most importantly worship to rebuild the home upon a rock that is steady again.
So church and I are seeing other people. Maybe one day we’ll get back together and rekindle that love affair again. In the meantime God and I and the rest of the family are doing just fine and hope that things will work out.