The real- REAL reason people are leaving the church.

oprahtired

I think I have read no less then 35 different blogs titled:

“The real reason people are leaving the church.”

There is even a rebuttal saying, “Because actually, they’re not.”

Even the famed Matt Walsh jumped on board this sinking ship.

But so many seem to be missing the point. While I don’t necessarily have an issue with their explanations and analysis for the supposed exodus, I do have a problem with the initial premise. You see the question they are answering is not a new question. About 15 years ago,in particular, people were asking the same question.

And the answer was this:

“We need to be more relevant! Hey, we’ll even start a magazine called ‘Relevant’ and that will help!” So the music got flashy, people church-hopped, and the pendulum swung.

Now, the question is being asked again.

But this time the answer is: “We need to be less relevant! Let’s go back to hymns, sacraments, liturgy and stuff and NO flashy music, this will bring them in.” (insert pendulum swinging the other way)

My problem with all this conjecturing is two fold.

First of all, I don’t buy the assertion that ‘Christians” are leaving the church.

Why? Well, because there is really no evidence that this is happening. In fact some would argue that it is not even theologically possible. The evidence presented to prove their point of mass exodus is that  the percentage of self-professed Christians has dropped from 78%-70%. But look. No Christian I have talked to has ever given any credence to that unrealistic original statistic.

It’s kind of a joke. A sad joke.

It usually goes like this:

“How are we still killing babies if 80% of the country is following Christ?” Oh, right. Because the statistic is false. People check the “Christian” box like it is a nationality instead of an actual commitment to following Christ.

Secondly,  since there is no actual proof true believers are leaving the church, I personally don’t think a decline in numbers is a bad thing. 

You see, after 28 years or so of constant growth, my church went through a definite decline when the pastor at the time had one of those “Moral failings.”  The weeks following the initial disclosure were filled with many emotions, not the least of which was fear. Driving home from running errands one night, I had a noteworthy moment of anxiety. I thought of my former pastor and feared for his soul. What if he doesn’t truly repent? What if he walks away from the church altogether? What if he is lost forever? Then I had an even greater fear of something much worse. What if he doesn’t walk away from the church, per se, but instead walks away from truth? What if he pulls a Rob Bell, and decides that he “humbly” realizes that he knows more than all of the church fathers before him, and truth is relative and “Love wins” and joins forces with…. Oprah! And what if he, with all his charisma and charm, leads thousands of people away?

It was there at that stop light, that I heard a voice in my spirit say these words:

 “It’s still too big.” 

What? I thought. My church ? What is too big? 

“You want the moral majority, but I have called you to the narrow road.”

My mind immediately went to the story of a scared Gideon as he prepared for battle, when the Lord reduced his army from thousands to hundreds. I realized at that moment that life was different now. Not just in our church, but in our country. And I knew that our church was being prepared for something more. Something greater.

Greater persecution. Greater affliction. Greater obstacles. A greater mission.

And before our church had been hit with tragedy, it was just too big. Possibly a bit of the “mile wide, inch deep” syndrome. Don’t misunderstand. Great ministry happened for years at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Scripture was taught. Disciples were made. Pastors were sent out all over the country and beyond. Lives have been forever changed. However, this depth of faith was not a reality for the entire body. For some people it was entertainment. They were there for the show. And now that the main character was gone, they were leaving too. And that was a healthy decline.  But for those that stayed – there has been an awakening. A girding up of sorts. A unity towards the forwarding of the gospel. We have been reminded that we are on a battleship, not a cruise ship! When we look at those “Christian” statistics in America? They aren’t real. They are still too big. So you want to know why the church is or isn’t growing? Here’s the answer that I haven’t heard one person say.

…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (I Cor. 3:7-HSCB)

We have to look at a couple factors. Are we preaching the word? Yes.  Are we mentoring and disciplining? Yes.

Great. But remember, here’s the important part:

Only God gives the growth. So it doesn’t matter if you sing hymns with an organ, or praise songs with a tambourine (our worship leaders nightmare.)

God watches over His word to perform it. He has a story to tell. And He has already warned us in great detail where we are headed. But take heart! This is not a doom and gloom message. This is a Joshua 24 type call to action! Do not despair over numbers. Choose this day whom you will serve. Go and make disciples. This was and is our commission. Be bold and courageous. Do not be afraid. Be prepared to give an answer for your faith. Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Keeping our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith!

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6 thoughts on “The real- REAL reason people are leaving the church.

  1. This is a great take on what’s going on with people leaving the church. It’s fun to discuss the issue but I’ve never bought the premise that people are fleeing religion in droves either.

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  2. Gwenn Ricketts

    That says it as I have thought. Confirmation. We are being persecuted. I was not there for the show . I feel horrible for that family that gave so much for God. But God is not yet finished. He is doing a new thing. He knows what lies ahead. I really felt that unity came other churches all over the place because of what happened people came from everywhere to support us and I just felt like that was God’s Word in action showing that we are a much bigger church when people realize that and we unify more as Christians all over the world a better representation of God .

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  3. Great article! On my part, I’ve never been concerned with statistics and I believe (and this is my opinion) that Christians should not rely on them, but rely on the Holy Spirit. In my relationship with the Lord I have a commitment to keep day by day just as I have with my wife day by day. I think statistics are sometimes used to influence people or the public opinion. We are to trust God no matter what we see or hear around us. Press on Church. God is faithful and His Word will never pass away…or be challenged by statistics!

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  4. Wow! Great post!

    As you pointed out in your essay that the stats regarding Christians “leaving the church” are suspect, It is also always wise to recognize that the media of mass deception is often in the business of telling lies and spreading propaganda. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the current BADministration takes every opportunity to bash Christians, while “instructing” the media to not call radical Islamic terrorism “Islamic.” Do they think we are stupid or what???

    I agree! it is God who gives the growth to the church! But when mismanagement of funds, arrogance, or any number of other sins fester within the walls of any church, the growth can suffer in many ways.

    I was taken aback by Matt Walsh’s latest post. It seems to me that when bloggers get “famous,” they often push too hard upon a subject and it can end up as gobbledy-gook… losing it’s point…or even its true meaning and message.

    There is much I could say about this subject, but I will sum up the experiences of my own family quickly. We left a medium-sized church years ago because it ended up not using the special funds collected properly. What we thought would benefit single moms with a daycare facility, and the elderly with a place to fellowship turned out to be a Starbucks-like coffee shop and bookstore. What is even worse is that the last time I attended a Good Friday service there, I could not even believe the very bad decision someone made to take the huge name of Jesus written in scrolled stone off the front of the sanctuary! What did they replace there? A third UNNEEDED mega-screen! It made me weep with grief and despair and I decided to never go back there again!

    We recently left a huge mega-church because the pastor had became too arrogant. For example. His invitation to repent and ask Christ to come into the heart as Lord and Savior (on Easter Sunday – no less!) practically turned it into a direct attack that “you are stupid” if you don’t make this decision RIGHT NOW in order to avoid hell. The guest we brought with us was mortified!

    We are now attending a church that is fairly new (and small in size) but is on message in all the sermons, plays all kinds and genre’ of worship songs, has a warm, friendly and welcoming staff and congregation; and is dedicated to fellowship and discipleship through both missionary work (and partnerships with other churches) in other countries as well as here at home. Of course, the main focus is to spread the need to be born again through the Gospel of Christ to the unsaved and to encourage new believers to be baptized. Our adult son found this church and we are so grateful to God that we have all found a new church home!

    I have added you to my follow list! Hope you will visit me at my blog!
    God bless!
    ~Christine
    https://talkwisdom.wordpress.com/

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  5. Wow. OK. I need another cup of coffee and a re-read of this. This is like a super-blog. Like 3 blogs in one blog kind of blog. Make that two cups of coffee. And dinner with the blogger-my treat.

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