Sixty-six reasons people are leaving the church today…kind of catchy isn’t it. Do I have sixty-six reasons to write down…maybe, but my ADD would kick in way before I could get to ten so let me just confess to you that I am trying to ride the wave of popularity right now. Yep…I am going to throw my hat into the ring as an expert on why people…young…old…black…white…you know, people, are leaving the Church. First off, the people leaving are obviously not Calvinist because they would know they are pre-destined to be in church…well, maybe they are pre-destined to leave. Oh, this gives me a headache. Let me start over. I am a persistent checker of all things Facebook, which may be my biggest problem, or at least does not help. I would say on the average I will see one or two posts a day where someone is posting an article on why people are leaving the church…or not worshipping…or why men hate it…or why women hate it. You get the point. The Church is a mess. I get it. I think I can help out here a little bit…not a lot but I think I have some deep insight into the problem with the church. I know who to blame here, who has screwed it up. Could it be the “seeker sensitive” church? Or the crazy “charismatics”? Maybe the traditional churches with their hymns and liturgy? The ones where the sermons are too long…or maybe where they are too short? Where they preach the real word of God, the Bible…or the guys who are nicer and use the Message?
Listen can I take a short cut here and just get it out in the open? The real reason people are leaving the church…well other than they are spoiled? The problem with the church: People. Yep, that is it. The church is full of people…if we can clear them all out the church will be a much better place. Think about it. If you have left the building it is because of a person…someone did not preach good enough, no real fellowship, the music was too loud or they sang it in too high of a key. No one said hello to me or too many people said hello, some fellow human failed you. Most likely it was the Pastor…he let you down.
So that leads me to the second problem: it is run by people, kind of similar to the first I suppose. Pastors, Reverends, Priests, Ministers, whatever you call them are first and foremost…people…human beings. I am going to blow the cover off a deep, hidden secret…we are not special because we are Pastors. Now I know this will offend some of the people in this group but get over it…you are human. Sure the church is messed up…God left it in the hands of people. I am pretty sure I am the number one reason people leave our fellowship…I could give you a litany of reasons but for my sanity I won’t. As I see it God is not the problem…so it has to be us…people…and pastors are a big part of it. If only when a person said yes to being a pastor the Spirit would swoop in and do a total make over. We could be Billy Graham, Andy Stanley, T.D Jakes, Joel Osteen all rolled into one. We would have all of John Maxwell’s leadership principles memorized and worked out, we could walk on water if need be and turn water into wine for communion. If only…He doesn’t. So let’s quit beating around the bush on why people are leaving…just come out and say it…people are leaving because of…people…humans in leadership has to be a problem. There…it is out in the open…maybe now we can see the end of the seven reason why articles. The elephant in the room has been revealed.
As a pastor I take this seriously and personally. I spent the first half of my life as a Jesus follower not as a pastor but as a participant. We served wherever needed. Later in life I responded to the call or maybe I just filled a need but I became a pastor. Funny thing is, I never wanted to be one…that was never a goal. And even funnier, God did not “fix” me when I said yes, He took me as I was. I surely was not perfect. There were much better prospects out there besides me…and we have to know that is how it is in every church. Every leader is just human…not super-human…human. With cracks and flaws. I think then as we try to make up for our flaws, if we are not careful our role becomes more important than God’s role. We are not the head of the Church, Jesus is. I am not that important…He is. When I read criticism of the Church, I do take it personal and I am offended when we try to fix it with new gadgets and ideas. The Church belongs to Jesus…it is His. I think maybe we should give it back. I think when I read the criticisms they reek of our selfishness and if we could stop for a moment and remember the Head we might see our criticism is pointed towards Him. I love the line, “I love Jesus just not the Church.” Tell me…how does that work? I try to imagine me going to Barb and saying, “ I really love your head, but the rest of you is not so good.” After I picked myself back up off the floor I could try to explain myself…or just see the idiocy of the comment. So you can take the Head…just leave the body flop around on the ground. Sounds weird to me. “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. (now that is not very kind John) For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
1Jn.4:20 I will get accused of taking this out of context but read it again…John is writing to the Church…he is taking away your/our right to say, “I love Jesus just not the church.” Let me close with the words from a modern poet.
“I never understood why going to church made you a hypocrite. Because nobody goes to church because they are perfect. If you’ve got it all together, you don’t need to go. You can go jogging with all the other perfect people on Sunday morning. Every time you go to church you’re confessing again to yourself, to your family, to the people you pass on the way there, to the people who greet you there, that you don’t have it all together. And that you need their support. You need their direction. You need some accountability. You need some help.” - Rich Mullins
Obviously I have about sixty-four more reasons to point out…so maybe I will re-visit this subject again. But let me ask some of you a favor…especially if you are one who has posted the famous “Seven reason why” posts…re-post this. Maybe Charisma News will notice…or Christianity today. This could be my be break…and if you will not re-post this…then stop posting the others. It really does not help.