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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5 Things To Do When Your Professors Challenge Your Beliefs As A Christian

As long as you know God is FOR you, it doesn't matter who is AGAINST you.

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Being a Christian in our world today is very, very challenging. There are many misconceptions about our beliefs and our morals, as well as people who believe we don't practice what we preach.

As a college student, I've come across many professors who enjoy challenging my beliefs due to the "lack of evidence" or the "impossibility" of the circumstances. While it frustrates me to no end, I've had to learn that arguing and debating with people who don't believe in God is pointless. They aren't going to change their mind and there's no way a college student is going to change that.

Arguing will get you nowhere, people are going to believe what they want to believe and we can't change that. Instead of trying to debate with your professors, do these five things instead. I assure you, you'll get much more out of them than an argument.

1. Pray

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Pray to God to help you and your belief remain strong, but also pray that the Holy Spirit finds them and touches their heart. A heart that isn't filled with God is an awfully sad one.

2. Acknowledge that people don't always agree with your beliefs

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If someone tried to convince you that God isn't real, you're not going to listen to their points or anything else that they have to say. Acknowledge that people think differently and sometimes you can't change that. Only God can.

3. Drop the class

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This is really a last resort, but it's also understandable. I would hate to have to sit in a class where I felt personally attacked for over an hour each day. If you find yourself in this position, get OUT.

4. When things get too difficult-- bathroom break

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Sometimes all you really need is a breather. When the lecture gets too tough, ask to go to the bathroom, get some water, and say a prayer.

5. Read your Bible

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This is the most important one. Your bible has all of the answers, no matter the circumstance. If you find yourself unable to cope with the challenges the professor presents to you, open the bible and start reading. God will fill your heart and put your mind at ease.

It's hard enough feeling out of place in today's society, just because of your beliefs. Then to have someone constantly challenging everything you base your life off of? That's even more difficult!

But instead of arguing, choose one of these five things to do. It will be a much better use of your time and you'll feel much better about it than you would by arguing with someone.

Who knows, maybe one day God will touch their heart and things will be different. God's pretty powerful and can change things in an instant. Trust him.

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Dear Christians, Think Twice Before You Invite A Non-Christian To Your Church

It's important to be sensitive to the many faiths people around you adhere to.

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Christians,

I understand you sharing verses from the Bible comes from good intentions.

I understand you explaining to me the teachings of Jesus comes from good intentions.

I understand you inviting me to your church comes from good intentions.

The issue is that not everybody is as tolerant of your evangelical mission. In fact, many may see it as outright offensive.

"How dare you try to push your religious beliefs on me?"

"I don't appreciate your attempts to convert me."

"I'm satisfied with my own religion, thanks."

The above are just some responses you might unfortunately get, but it is important to understand why that's the case.

Christianity is, by all means, the most popular religion on the planet with followers from all corners of the globe.

With your faith having such a large following, people may see your mission to spread God's word as rather selfish — an attack, even, to not consider their faith.

Receiving this kind of response from someone when you meant only the best for them can occur with even the simplest actions — you can try inviting someone to your church and still end up making them uncomfortable.

I can admit there was one point in time I was in such a situation where my neighbor asked me to attend her church for Easter when she knew I was a Hindu. I was taken aback by her invitation. Religion was not something I considered to be a "show and tell" where you share it with others without them asking. I am glad to educate people about Hinduism, but only if they ask and are genuinely interested, otherwise I don't try and bring it up and teach it to others in case they become uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong, Hinduism is one of the most liberal and tolerant religions out there. Hindus are allowed to visit other houses of worship, accept beliefs from other religions, and accept the fact that there are multiple supreme beings; there is no limit to how Hindus reach salvation.

I wasn't offended by her Christianity, but rather her disregard of how someone from a different faith may interpret her invitation.

I politely declined her invitation because at the time it did make me uncomfortable and I didn't understand her intentions. I have had moments in my life where I was encouraged to convert to Christianity, even offered money, which made me wary of the intentions of Christians around me who were very open about their religion.

Today, as a Hindu attending a private Christian university, I have had the opportunity to interact with Christians and understand why they like to promote their faith. It took quite some time and experience to educate myself about this, and I better understand where Christians come from when they talk about religion, but not everybody is so accommodating.

It is very important to understand that your beliefs are just that — beliefs. Beliefs are subjective and not everybody is going to agree with them or respect them.

You may have been taught to "go make disciples of all the nations," and you don't get to pick and choose which teachings of Jesus to follow, but understand that you assuming you're helping someone follow "the right path" may actually be pushing them away.

We appreciate your genuine care for us and your good intentions behind promoting your faith, but please be sensitive to how you talk about religion — even if it is inviting someone to your church.

Sincerely,

Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Atheists, and other non-Christian belief systems.

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