John Pavlovitz wrote an interesting article about why people leave churches. It is a call for the church culture to honestly examine themselves, which will require putting away arrogance and petty self righteousness. You can read the entire article, but here are a few snippets with a thought or two to follow…
You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed-up the morality of the world, that everyone is abandoning faith in droves. But those aren’t the reasons people are leaving you. They aren’t the problem, Church. You are the problem. Let me elaborate in 5 ways…
1) Your Sunday productions have worn thin.
2) You speak in a foreign tongue.
3) Your vision can’t see past your building.
4) You choose lousy battles.
5) Your love doesn’t look like love.
These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack these positions line-by-line, but we hope that you won’t. We hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re real to us, and that’s the whole point. We’re the ones walking away. We want to matter to you. We want you to hear us before you debate us. Show us that your love and your God are real.
Mr. Pavlovitz explains each of the five points in his post (I obviously left them out). After reading his explanations the last paragraph makes more sense.
I’ve been a Christian pastor a long time. I’ve been looking for A church for over a year, an honestly… from the perspective of a visitor… I have to agree with the five points he brings to the table. Then add to it ministers abusing children, churches firing their ministers for trivial or personality issues, congregants fighting and warring with each other, it is no wonder people don’t go to A church.
Note: People ARE looking! They WANT to be part of a Christ honoring fellowship! In fact, here is what they will choose to be a part of:
1. A place where God’s Word is preached and proclaimed honestly and in love (MOST IMPORTANT),
2. A place where people love one another unconditionally,
3. A place where God is worshiped in Spirit and Truth (Style has very little to do with it!)
4. A place where humility, holiness, and godliness are highly valued.
5. A place where repentance, forgiveness, grace, and mercy are practiced.
Well? Just because a person hasn’t joined A Church congregation (Yours?!) doesn’t mean they have left THE Church.