I feel like I should touch on a topic that is relev
ant right now to my readers. I have seen several posts, and even had a few write in telling me their story. I don't know if I can cover all the questions but here goes...
With the pandemic going on churchgoers have had to make some adjustments. But to the people who are afraid to go back because you have been burned by the church, I encourage you to try another one. Let me be clear in saying I have also made this mistake before. I am so glad I made the choice to go back.
Here is what I have to say to the ones that leave ....
Here is a hard pill to swallow...No matter what church you go to, you are going to find disgraceful people. Church is for the worst of the worst. Not the best of the best. So you are going to have to find a way to care less about what people think and more about what God thinks. You are there for the same reason they are. To worship Jesus. To fellowship with others who love Jesus, and to get into the word with broken people just like you. You are no better than them. They are no better than you. There are good and bad preachers. Having the title pastor doesn't make them Holy. But it should be taken seriously. A pastor's job is to disciple you. Teach you. Encourage you. That does not mean he can verbally beat you down with Gods word, but it does mean he can offer you the path less traveled using Gods word. There is a right way and a wrong way to teach. If you walk out of that church feeling more broken than when you walked in than that church has it wrong. Look for the ones that shake your hand. Look for the ones that say hi to you. Look for the ones that care. Every church has good ones. You go to church with whatever clothes you have on, and the right ones won't care. Stay with the churches that encourage women to walk holding Gods hand and not man's hand.
The main cause of leaving the church is just what you would expect. JUDGMENT! If you have ever been turned away at church....If you have ever been treated badly. If you have ever been made to feel like your not good enough... Please know, Church is suppose to be a place of healing, hope and love. It is a body of believers. Not a building of haters. People are suppose to leave feeling educated in the word, Healed in the spirit, and loved by His people.
There are many, many churches that currently exist, that are amazing and God centered. They are focused on making sure the broken doesn't stay broken. They make it their mission to ensure the lost are found.
But oh boy are there some poor examples of churches. The ones that are filled with pharisees. The ones where money means more than serving. Where the highest tithers mean more than the the penny givers. The ones where people are separated by popularity.
So many times throughout my life I have watched church after church turn it's cheek to the abused. Turn it's nose up to drug addicts. They talk about the single mother. They treat this building and Gods people like it is some kind of country club. I have witnessed the rich belittle the poor. The just as broken attack the broken. And preachers twist Gods word so they themselves can live in sin.
Church ostracizing and bullying needs to come to an end. Frankly I am saddened by it. But I have also seen churches extend grace beyond grace. Serve the community without hesitation. And Preach the Gospel the way it should be preached. There is a big difference between teaching the word of God and abusing people with Gods word.
Not a single person on this planet is perfect. We ALL fall short of the glory of God. Myself included. Some might say "wait minute now" "this letter itself is judgmental." Let me explain...
The truth is... It falls and ends on leadership's shoulders.
Pastors, preachers, ministers.... Like it or not, you are held to a higher standard. People respect you. People believe in you. People count on you. What you say. What you do. How you live your life. It Matters. You are the in between for a lot of unbelievers when it comes to sin and grace. The pressure is thick but it is rewarding. When God uses you in this way, you can't let His message be shown any other way except the Biblical way.
Ministry is a hard field. Not everyone shows appreciation. There are times you are metaphorically slapped in the face. But even when these things happen, it does not mean the people you are ministering to are not worthy. That's not what God says. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in ALL circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It is a privilege and an Honor to serve His people. Your brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if they are not like you. Looking upward instead of inward takes away any feelings of feeling unappreciated. Even when you feel used or taken advantage of you can still remain grateful in serving. The opportunity to serve is your blessing. Jesus said himself in Mark 9:35 He sat down and called the twelve, He said to them "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.
It is not about us. It is about God and the person He is helping through you.
The music, the coffee bar, the children's programs, and the events, will never be more important than the disciples you are molding.
No matter how much money you invest in your staff or your building, it will not change the flavor of your kool aid if it's not good kool aid. Jesus is some good kool aid. Stop trying to change the flavor. Not enough sugar yuck. Too much sugar yuck. Right amount of sugar. Right amount of taste. Make the Gospel digestible. That doesn't mean speak untruth. That doesn't mean don't preach Bible. What that means is teach them truth and serve them kindness while doing it. How you live, who you hire, and how you run your leadership pipeline is your responsibility.
If you have an abundance of wealth within your church...Wake up! If you have only one race of people. Wake up! If woman and children are leaving. Wake up! If there are no young adults. Wake up! If you see adultery, cheating, lying, gossip etc. within your leadership pipeline shut it down. Pay attention to segregation within your walls. Make sure as many are included as possible. Jesus sat with sinners. We can too. Leadership, please pay attention to the ones in the church that judge and talk and run people away. It's wrong. And last but not least. Please learn the difference between self righteousness and being righteous. It will save a lot of people a lot of time.
The judgment between Christians within the church needs to change. There needs to be a new church model. Otherwise a lot of people are going to have a hard time finding Jesus. As Christian's we need to admit that we are part of the problem too. We have to stop shaming, ostracizing, and judging. We are the church. Not the brick and mortar, but US. It is up to US and those in leadership to make sure we as a body don't fall short of that.
It's not what church is about. It is not why church is here. It is not what it is intended for.