Why You Left The Church
Marc Solas wrote this blog on 2/6/13 about the top 10 reasons why our kids leave church. While I agree with all 10 things he’s written, I’ll add more based on my own interviews and understanding of things. But, for now, here’s a great quote from the post.
We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one.
LISTEN! ::kicks down chairs::
::sets you on fire::
Y’all don’t hear Marc, though. His post applies to anyone that’s left the church, to be honest.
I attend a church where the young adult pastor wears jeans. Thankfully, none have been skinny jeans. We have the jumbo-trons. We have the PowerPoint presentations for worship songs. We have no lights on during worship, multicolored lights on stage, and large speakers that annoy a great many persons over 50. (The guy that used to run sound is actually legally deaf. So, that was a fun time. I thought I’d surely walk out of Pre-Christmas Sunday evening service in 2008 unable to hear God’s still small voice.) We have a coffee shop and cafeteria. We have the best youth center I’ve ever seen complete with a small skateboard half-pipe, moon bounce, and console after console of video games.
What Solas describes, though, is a church that has all of that and waters down the presentation of the Gospel. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced that at my church. I’ve frequently heard things about what God wants (that I verified with God and my Bible) that I did not want to hear because it meant I had to make a change in my life. I have, however, been to churches that are exactly what Solas describes.
The main point that I gleaned from his blog is that churches are doing our young people a disservice by not respecting them enough as human beings enough to tell them the truth about Jesus and the world in which they live. They leave the church, go to college away from home, get enthralled by an Atheist professor who asks the question, “Why do you believe what you believe?”, can’t come up with an answer, think they’ve been indoctrinated and a drone all their lives, and then break out of that “mold” to become a “free thinker” and they’re on their way to thinking they’re better than anyone else who believes in a higher power other than themselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When you water down Jesus or try to “sell” him like he’s a product, that’s when you lose. Now, I’m a firm believer that the Gospel is powerful enough to penetrate through any weirdness that tries to block or detract from its power, but it would help to root our kids in a better foundation other than weekly pizza parties and game nights where we discuss peer pressure without ever talking about how Jesus would handle it.
At least seeds have been sown, but they’re not watered at that time. That can come later. I think there is room here for what is taught in the home. The church can only do so much, and some home-training failed here too.
Most people I’ve met who were avowed Atheists raised in the church only learned about Jesus through church members and their hypocrisy. They never learned about Jesus’ work of wiping out sin on the cross and defeating death by rising from the dead with all power. They looked at people too much and started thinking for themselves and coming to their own conclusions away from Jesus. HOWEVER, because they were raised on God’s path at some point in their lives, the train hits them eventually. My dead uncle’s ex-girlfriend was a staunch Atheist when she met my now-retired pastor father.
I mean…S T A U N C H.
She hated the idea of religion and especially Christianity because she wanted to live life on her own terms without anyone dictating to her how to live. (She misunderstood Christian liberty.) She also left the church because in the days of segregation she observed how her church, which preached love for everyone equally, didn’t treat everyone equally because they made black people sit in the balcony.
Then, in her late 50s/early 60s, we picked up communication. She started talking about how much Jesus had done for her. She was an usher in her church. We were shocked. She’s a Christ-follower now. And kind of an on-fire one. I’ve heard of stories like hers. I have friends from college who were raised in the church and left during college because they were in a new world and it’s often easier to stay in bed on Sunday because you don’t have judging eyes in your home church who will say something if you’ve missed a couple services. They didn’t have to deal with that or the threat of it, and it was liberating as they found their way. A good 85% of them now are back in church and love the Lord. So, if you’ve been on that track, left that track, and think you’ll stay away forever, statistically it seems that you’ll be back later. Also, I remember reading somewhere that a lot of people identify as Atheist because they believe in God, just not through the church, and they’re anti-church, so that’s the easiest description they feel applies. I would say they’re more Agnostic, but in any case, I’ve known way too many people who come back years later (even well after 40 years old) for Proverbs 22:6 to not hold water.
So, while some churches are trading the Gospel for effective marketing campaigns, some churches are not doing that. Even if these kids referenced in Solas’s blog left the church, there is hope that they will return.
(P.S. – I am not here for Joel Osteen. He doesn’t preach anything other than “Let’s all feel good,” which is not the message of the Gospel.)