Why Don't People Go To Church Anymore?

Why Don't People Go To Church Anymore?

Analyzing the "Country Club Christian" epidemic.
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If you were to look up the term "Christian Stereotype" in the nearest dictionary, odds are you would find my picture beside the entry and a caption reading "See: Jack Arbuckle". A middle-class white male raised by happily married parents who attended church every Sunday, I was practically the mold from which one would form the "Cookie Cutter Christian". I came to my own profession of faith while in early elementary school, and as I got older my relationship with Christ strengthened. I attended Sunday School, Youth Group, summer camps, and a hundred other things that I came to associate as "Christian Activities". Yet, the older I got, the more I learned about Christ, and I quickly found myself coming to a very startling realization.

I loved God. I wasn't overly fond of his Church.

See, the Christian Church is a very complex organization to pin down. There are churches that I like - as in individual institutions that I fully believe actually practice what they preach. In terms of the overall Church, however, I have very few emotions that could be described as positive in nature; and I'm far from alone in that mentality. Overall, society is becoming unenamored with the Church, and fewer and fewer people actually care to go anymore. It would be all too easy to simply write this dip in attendance off as laziness or a prevalence of sin within society. After all, I still go despite my qualms, right? However, maybe we as Christians should start asking ourselves why people don't want to come to Church.

Maybe it's because the Church has become a club, rather than a community. What was supposed to be a place of worship has instead become a place where Christians attend on Sundays (and Wednesdays if they're feeling particularly pious that week), give a little offering, and gather into their usual cliques for a feel-good message before they totter on home to their regular old lives, unchanged by what goes on in the confines of the chapel.

Maybe it's because the Church is often the first group to judge and the last to forgive, rather than the other way around. Christians are very good at remembering the "Thou Shalt Nots", and forgetting about letting "he who is without sin cast the first stone". Judgement is their forte, and mercy a word they like to toss around when it means they can get something in return for it later. Forgiveness to so many isn't a wiped slate, but an IOU ready for collection at the next given opportunity.

Maybe it's because the Church that's supposed to weed out hypocrisy has instead become the hotbed of it. "Don't talk about people behind their backs," a Church attendant might warn, right before they turn to their friends and start gossiping about what the woman in their Sunday School class did that morning before the service. They expect perfection but demonstrate corruption without remorse, and then act as though the observers around them are somehow in the wrong.

Maybe it's because the Church looks a lot more like the Pharisees than it does the Apostles. With the law firmly in mind and mercy firmly abandoned, the modern Christian somehow comes away feeling that because they tithe a few extra dollars in this week's service they're somehow absolved from sin. They aren't interested in helping others or bettering the situations of those around them, but merely of lightening their own conscience. Compare this to the Pharisees of the New Testament and you'll find there isn't a lot of difference overall.

Maybe it's because the Church says Love and then doles out Hate. It's true that sin is sin and God does preach that we should hold people accountable, but he also urges us to show compassion and mercy to those we see struggling with sin. It wasn't the Pharisees Jesus chose to dine with, but the prostitutes and tax collectors. After all, "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick". Instead, we see the Church ridicule the broken who come to their doorstep and act as though their own hypocrisy is somehow more righteous than the struggles of those who come seeking aid. The irony is, of course, only one of these two groups is actually seeking betterment.

Maybe it's because the times the Church should be doing the most to help are the times it's noticeably the most absent. I've known churches who have looked the families of cancer patients in the eye and told them "well, you're just not praying hard enough". Not even tiny redneck churches out in the middle of nowhere, but massive churches in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. When the Church should be compassionate, they're most judgemental. When they should be the kindest, they're the cruelest instead. It's no wonder the broken don't want to come to Church when faced with this reception.

Maybe it's because the Modern Church isn't about being Godly, but looking godly. Despite all of the issues mentioned above, the true issue at the heart of the Church can be summed up in this: The Modern Church is no longer about companionship or growth, but instead about the image and status one achieves from their attendance. No longer do attendants go because they want to change their ways, but instead they go so that they can gloat of their righteousness to their neighbors upon their arrival. It's not about growth. It's about image.

I don't write this article to disparage the notion behind the Church. Far from it in fact. I love the Church when it's serving its intended purpose, and I love God more than I'll ever love the Church. We'd be fooling ourselves, however, if we said that the Church was in a holy state currently. We act like society is crumbling because they're turning away from the Church, but neglect to acknowledge how the Church is crumbling because they're turning away from God. We preach, but we don't practice. We're a generation of Country Club Christians, but Heaven isn't a pay-to-play service.

If we're honest, I don't often think God would be very proud of the way the Church is operating in Modern America, and if I can't be proud of us as a Christian then how can I possibly expect an atheist or an agnostic to see any purpose in coming at all? Jesus never instructed us to be Country Club Christians. Maybe it's about time we stopped acting like them.

Cover Image Credit: willingshepherds

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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My Dad Is A Priest, But Surprise, I'm An Atheist

After 19 years of being raised as a believer, the only thing I am sure about is that there is no God at all.

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I feel like every high school has that guy who is always super active, always makes stupid jokes, and is always ready to party. My friend was like that. He was always down for any stupid or fun thing. And I remember one time hanging out we had a discussion about parents when suddenly he goes: "Oh, my dad is actually a priest."

What?

He told us that although he was raised in a religious family, he didn't believe in God at all. He said his parents have dedicated all their lives to the Orthodox Church, and tried to educate him the same way and make him a faithful believer. But after these 19 years, the only thing that he is sure about now is that there is no God.

"Every little thing that was happening in this world was a God's plan in my parents' eyes. Every day would start with a prayer where we thank God for life, food, and anything good that's going to happen to us. Growing up in the atmosphere of endless fasts, commandments, and attending church services, little me didn't have time even to doubt this kind of life's arrangements.

"I was always supervised by my parents at those times. My mom used to be a principal of a Sunday school, which I, of course, attended. The Sunday school's mission is to teach children how to be faithful. It works just like the normal schools do, but the subjects do vary. We were taught the Church Slavic language, the Laws of God, the Old and the New Testament, the orchestra. We even had a gospel class, where we were taught to sing in a choir at the church. Basically, we were taught everything that young churchmen need to know.

"I was playing with all the kids after and between classes like in normal schools, but most of the non-religious themes were prohibited. We all were scared that if we talk about something else we will be punished by the 'powers from the above'. I did really believe in that.

"Teachers were pretty good in persuading us that God is everywhere. The whole class would repeat in unison that God sees everything, knows everything – he is charitable and sinless.

"As a result, we were scared even to think about breaking any rules. We were obligated to pray before every meal, we couldn't miss any of the church services, couldn't condemn our parents or teachers, be aggressive any time, even to protect ourselves, because 'The Lord Jesus says if you're struck on your right cheek, you offer your left' (Holy Bible).

"It was perfect for handling kids. We were scared of punishment even when we knew no one could see us. We remembered – God knows everything.

"As time went by and we became the grown-ups, we started to notice our parents' or other adults' flaws. None of them were following all of the commandments as we did; they didn't have that fear of the 'Supreme.' Even my parents that were iconic to me allowed themselves to have their hands in their pockets while being at church or leave the services to talk on the phone. They could eat all they wanted, skip fasts, or even smoke. Watching them, I lost my aspiration in following all the rules perfectly. It seemed unfair that they could be freer but I couldn't. So I started giving myself indulgences…

"For example, one of the real orthodox believer's obligations was the oblation in front of Him every Sunday morning. Every single person had to come to the church early with an empty stomach and tell all of his/her sins in order to be forgiven. And it made me sick how many 'faithful' adults used it as the excuse for not following God's rules. Not to mention how many times the money donated to the church was stolen. They would sin and then just ask for forgiveness and become sinless again.

"When I started realizing all those things, my life started changing."

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