No, this isn’t a new hip-hop song, despite the catchy title. This is about why so many churches are withering away. But if anyone wants to use that for their band name, I expect royalties. 🙂
Anyone who bothers to look around can see the churches in America aren’t anywhere near as full as they used to be. We are becoming increasingly secular. We kick religion to the curb, either explicitly denying it, or simply ignoring it until it goes away. There are a great many theories on why this is the case. Some cite more access to entertainment. Stores are open 24/7 these days. Kids sports schedule games for Sunday now, creating scheduling conflicts with regular church attendance. There are a gazillion external reasons not to attend church.
But I think the main reason people gave up on Christianity is the Christians themselves. Too many of us have adopted a “my way or the highway” approach. “I can show you right *HERE* that God said it, and if you don’t believe it, you’re going to HELL!” Where is love in that approach? Where is the Jesus who reaches out to sinners, inviting them to walk with him? Where is the acknowledgement that *gasp* WE COULD BE MISTAKEN?
Pope Francis addressed this recently. Here is a short excerpt:
“When a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith. He is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought. For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge. The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people.’
But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new.”
The full article, with video, can be found here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/21/pope-francis-describes-ideological-christians-as-a-serious-illness-within-the-church/
What can we do to correct this issue? First, we must learn to see others as our brothers and sisters, no matter their theology or lack of it. Rich, poor, black, white, Republican, Democrat. We must get away from the “us and them” thinking that has created so many of our problems. Second, we need to pray for a spirit of humility rather than arrogance. It isn’t about us anyway. It’s about God. When we reflect His love, rather than our demands, we lift him up for all to see. Third, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us. We have the Bible, yes, but we need God to interpret it for us rather than man. In this way we will realize that yes, we have been wrong on some things, and we can quit turning away true seekers by insistence that our ways are absolute.