Church Culture

Dying to Survive

Power struggles, dirty politics, and lack of purpose...yet you wonder why we're leaving the church.

How would you feel if you voted but your vote was never counted? What if you found out that a large portion of the votes weren’t counted because the system malfunctioned? How do you respond when the higher ups refuse to hold another vote? What do you do when the “winner” of that invalid vote declares victory and gives an acceptance speech? Is it okay if the person you voted for “won”?

Rigged elections, voter suppression, illegitimate presidencies. Sounds like stuff straight out of recent Congressional hearings right? Nah, that happened in church.

Why does it sound like something straight out of D.C.? Good question.

After hearing about and experiencing this, I find it amusing when people question why young people are leaving the church. The church claims to be different from “the world” but in reality it is not. Why would I want to come to your church and face the same problems I deal with every other day of the week?

If you read my post, Bacon is Delicious (if not you should probably check it out), you know that I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The average age of the Adventist church in North America is over 50 and young people are leaving at an alarming rate. Adventists aren’t the only one’s in trouble though.

American Christianity is dying. Big churches, small churches, Catholic churches, Baptist churches, doesn’t matter- they are all struggling. I suppose one could argue that mega churches are doing well but their weekly attendance numbers are dropping too.

So, why are churches dying? Why are youth and young adults running from Christianity?

That is a complicated question with multiple answers.

I have noticed that many try to simplify the answer and attribute it to things like the separation of the wheat and tares and my personal favorite, “the shaking”. I have heard people claim that young people do not want to sacrifice or live “Godly lives”. Technology and the want to be entertained have been blamed too.

I think people think people want to accept those answers because they are afraid to confront the truth. The truth would require them to change and let’s face it, people are terrified of change.

There is a big fear of change right now. We live in a world that is changing very quickly and people are grasping for the past. They are trying to find that one thing in life that will not change so they can hold on to it. For many Christians, church has become that thing and they have concluded that it can not and should not change. Now we’ve found ourselves in a place where young people are leaving (long gone in some places) and churches are dying.

While I have not left, I completely understand why others have. I think it comes down to a few overarching problems. For me, power struggles and politics are at the top of the list. I have seen people literally fight for power only to do nothing but sit in the pew and play politics once they have it.

Many churches lack vision. We tend to ignore the future, focus on the now and lull ourselves into this false sense security by saying, “Jesus is coming soon!” Since we do not think about or plan for the future, we do not train and mentor future leaders either. The power struggles and politics, lack of vision and mentorship explain why Sis. Agnes has been the choir director for 50 years and the choir is still singing the same songs they sang in the 60s.

Then there are things like poor leadership, outdated religious dogma, and lack of purpose. Parents play a role in this too. You can not count on a few hours of church every week to turn your kid into a saint.

How can we expect people to relate to Christianity when there is no life application? Christianese and overused cliches won’t cut it anymore. I need to understand exactly what you are telling me and how it affects or applies to my life. Many older Christians struggle with this and I think it is because secretly, they do not know how to apply their beliefs to real life.

A lot of times church people just say stuff that sounds nice and when you start poking at the implications of what they are saying and start asking questions, they issue you a one way ticket to hell (Adventists will also provide an Ellen White quote for good measure).

Imagine fighting so hard to survive that you are actually hurting yourself in the process. That’s where the American church has found herself. Fighting so hard to hold on to the past that we do not even notice the empty pews. Maybe it’s time to lay some of these churches on life support to rest. Perhaps then we’ll actually pay attention to the autopsy reports.

1 comment on “Dying to Survive

  1. Shemmarr

    I think you made a lot of valid points. The question I ask mysel is why follow idea that hasn’t worked. The older heads don’t know how to handle the technology, they seem Ill equipped to deal with the changes technology has brought about. Many are stuck in the 80s. I find that as a developer we as a church can’t present ourselves as a church. People get turned off I find that helping people, whether be creating food drive, getting them into housing etc helps more. It like I’m saying God loves you to a person, and their response is “why don’t you give me food since God love me ain’t u supposed to be a Christian”. What I’m saying is helping people with their basic need is more important than preaching to people. All we do is give out tracks. As a graphic designer print is dead. This is a big issue in the Advent of the iPad/tablet.

    Liked by 1 person

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