I have tried to distill my observations about the church over the last few years into a few bullet points, both to help myself understand what I have been through and to see if any of these conclusions resonate with anyone else.
Church is badly broken
Following Christ has wrongly become equated with supporting an organization that has to be feed with increased attendance, volunteers, and funding.
We have misrepresented Christ with our eagerness to call out sin in society while ignoring the sin of our unloving ways.
We are an insider organization that focuses on ourselves, except (or especially) when we try to get outsiders to come to our building and become like us.
We have been talkers and not doers who have had minimal impact on the lives and communities around us.
The Church is bleeding people like crazy.
Because they have been disappointed so many times, people distrust organizations and leaders.
When honest questions are unwelcomed or glibly rebutted, people become dissatisfied.
When so-called ministry is reduced to a performance and packaged programs, people feel like a consumer or cog in a machine.
Religious service attendance has slipped from 32% (1975) to 24% (2008). America’s third largest group now is “none,” somewhere between 16 and 20 percent of our population. In 1960, this group didn’t even register on the polls. It is projected that “nones” and adherents of other religions will outnumber Christians in the United States by 2042.
A lot of people who embrace Jesus are trying to “be the church” without any affiliation with an actual organization.
All local churches are organizations with the need for authority structures, finances, volunteers, and programming.
Alternative churches that are “successful” will confront these same issues, characteristics that its participants were probably turning from.
Starting something new will eventually cause you to wind up at the same place with the same “organizational issues.”
Trying to “be the church” or simply living life loving Jesus is a legitimate alternative that a lot of people have turned to.
I wonder, is there something more?
The “being the church” approach gives us the opportunity to live a more integrated life in which faith and life are more completely blended and that feels very real and refreshing.
However, at times it feels to me like it is a little incomplete. Maybe, I am still “detoxing” from all of those years I was a pastor or maybe there will be some exciting new ways to be the church that have yet to be revealed.
So, what do you think? Let me know in the comment section below.