Updated: Oct 30
Christians from all denominations and walks of life shun the church these days. If we didn't already come up with a good reason to stop going to church, COVID gave us the perfect excuse. Amid the pandemic, services have emerged online at a rapid pace. I can now roll out of bed, turn on my tv, and hear all the sermons and music my heart could ever desire. In years past, attending church regularily and being supportive of its teachings was expected and normal. Now we claim we simply don't have time for it- and we also believe it isn't necessary.
Church Isn't For Me
Many people have time for church, they just simply don't go. A reader of my blog once wrote me explaining that he still keeps the Sabbath but he just does it from home (this was even before the pandemic!). Church had repulsed him. The church was a place full of hypocrites, and the leadership was even worse! Based on some of the thoughts I've seen shared on social media lately- specifically in regard to Adventism, I can tell many people share his views.
Still, other people turn from church because of more than the hypcorisy. Maybe it is out of fear of being judged or feeling guilty. The other church members have nicer cars or they are married or they have perfect kids. If I go into a place like that, my flaws will stand out like a sore thumb. No, it is better if I just keep things between Jesus & I. Private.
Don't Go, Be
I must confess, I walked away from church for quite some time myself. I am 26 years old, right in the middle of the popular age group that leaves church- and often never returns. I I was perfectly happy to worship Jesus in nature. I was completely content fellowshipping with my close nit group of friends and family. I got to the point where I actively complained about the church, especially the Adventist church! After all, as a woman who is on fire for God, imagine how disheartening it has been to be told I am not good enough to be ordained because of my sex? I was (and still am) sooo over it! I fully convinced myself I didn't need church. I was right... but what I didn't think about was how the church needed me.
Somehow we have adopted a consumer mindset when it comes to our faith:
"I am looking for a church that meets MY needs. I need a good church that will help ME."
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 Paul explains that the church is a body made up of hands, feet, ears, and eyes. Paul explains that we should have "equal concern for each other". In Romans 12:4-8 he focuses on the body example again pointing out the necessity of each unique part. When you are not a part of a church family, that family is missing an ear, an eye, or a leg. They are missing the talent that God has given you to use for his glory in conjunction with the other talents of fellow believers.
What About the Hypocrisy?
Many people are over dealing with the church because of church politics, and for good reason. There is a lot of junk and fallacy mixed in with our message and our denomination. Guess who put it there? The devil. Guess why he put it there? So you would leave. So you would complain. So you would influence other people to leave.
Did you know that just talking about the problems repeatedly, makes them worse? Sure it is good to take notice of the things we need to work on or change and discuss them. But if all we do is talk... WE start to become a problem. If you have gone to a church or are currently going to a church and you don't like it because you've been hurt, disillusioned, or disappointed- then it is time for you to be the change you wish to see. It is really a matter of being the difference or leaving. There is no usefulness in staying somewhere you hate merely for the sake of complaining.
We LOVE to argue that the church is people and not a building or denomination. We use this concept to discredit and dismiss the usefulness of being part of a denomination. But the truth is, if the church is people, we need people IN the church. Why? Because we need an organized structure to more effectively carry out the gospel. We need people with who we can collaborate with. Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching."
You Can't Do It Alone
Many of us have been harboring bitterness, resentment, and anger about the things we see happening in the world and among people who claim to be Christians. We might know deep down that we need to be more involved in a church community, but we can't get past our feelings. I was no exception. I left the church... and I did not return on my own doing. It was from my time spent with God that I determined I needed to go back. I didn't go back to know more about God, I went back to SHARE what I had learned. I went back to be the change.
If we are truly going to stick it out and change our mindset from a consumer to a producer, we must allow Jesus Christ to infiltrate and transform our hearts. Until we forgive and choose to focus on the positive things we can do to improve, we will never survive the modern-day challenges of church organizations. We can't do this alone- instead, we must pray for the Holy Spirit to help us.
Aside from prayer, we must return to scripture. According to LifeWay Research*, About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories. Where do you fall on the scale?
Before you attack the fundamental beliefs and standards of your church, make sure you understand WHAT they are and WHY they are there. We cannot be a catalyst for the correct change in our churches without knowing what God actually says in his word. I'm not talking about what the megachurch pastor says or what society says, I'm talking about what scripture says. It is by understanding scripture that our love and passion for the Adventist church will reawaken and revive. We do not read scripture because we are Adventists, we are Adventists because we read scripture. We have a unique understanding built on years of pondering and evaluating. Regardless of your stance on Ellen White, when you read the Bible for yourself you discover how inspired many of her views were and are. She shed light on issues other pastors and leaders are only just now discovering. Many of us are blind to the power that we conceal... until we read God's message for ourselves. There is a Bible truth in our foundations, and it is worth being confident in and proud of.
What action can you take today both personally and outwardly to be God's messenger for the church today?