Some colleagues of mine and I are reading a book by Mike Slaughter titled, “Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus.” My senior pastor has already read this and highly recommended it and I’m combing my way through it now. I have found this book both depressing and encouraging. Let me explain . . .
The book prints survey results from Barna research indicating that eighteen to thirty-five-year-olds perceive the church to be judgemental, hypocritical, and antihomosexual. Many of those in this category who have tried the church and left have experienced it to be self-serving, rigidly institutional, and neither relational nor relevant.
Slaughter goes on to add that he asked this question on his Facebook page: “Why do you feel the church is not working for the majority of people?” Here are some of the responses he received:
- “The Church lacks a message of hope”
- “Lives that contradict teachings”
- “Teaching that is abstract and not relevant to daily living”
- “I feel that I will be judged and condemned if I go to church”
- “Pastors who make poor choices in their personal lives”
- “Christians look down on those who fail to live up to their standards”
- “The common thread in the reasons my friends avoid church is hypocrisy”
- “I haven’t found any churches that are engaging. They seem to be all about rituals and never relevant to today”
- “I feel that I am being talked at, never as a participant but as an observer”
- “Churches fail to address the life issues of college age students in a time when we are questioning faith”
I know – depressing, right? Here is the glimmer of hope that follows these quotes when Slaughter offers a thoughtful response from someone who gave a reason why her church actually works:
“What I love about my church is that we seem to reach all levels of society! I don’t feel condemned when I come to church. I leave wanting to be a better person and wanting to change this world to be a better place for my children. I leave feeling equipped with the right tools to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
All I can say is, “AMEN!” This is the way we should ALL feel about our church, wouldn’t you agree? How do you feel about your church? Do you walk away feeling that you are “equipped with the right tools to be the hands and feet of Jesus?” I’m not sure many can answer that question with a, “yes,” in todays world. This book is very thought provoking and I plan to blog about it in sections. Just let this set up the premise for you . . . that premise being that the church isn’t what it’s supposed to be (mine included) and we need to make some changes to be the church Jesus intended. Stay tuned!