Today we have half the number of churches than we had a hundred years ago. And each year we lose another 4000. That’s an incredible loss, but why are people leaving church?
I did some unofficial polling and these reasons topped the list:
Internet Church: brings a wide variety of inspiring messages with just a simple mouse click. Church without the church. No buildings to support or people to bug you. You never have to quit, because you never really belong.
Jesus-Lite Church: Sometimes a feel-good message is appealing. No Bible needed. Just hear the power of positive cheerleading and leave. But feel-good messages eventually get old. People quit coming.
Love Less Church: These churches are rule-based without a whole lot of love. People quit when they feel like they’ll never measure up—often carrying away their hurt feelings, resentment, and some examples of hypocrisy among the churchgoers.
No Need: People don’t really want to go—maybe for the reasons above but often because they have other things they’d rather do. Church in today's America isn't what it used to be.
Awhile back I visited the old hometown of my church-going grandma. Back in her day most everyone went to church and their "mission" was caring for the “downtrodden”. If you needed help, you were given food, clothes, and typically a job on someone’s farm. It was also a nifty support system for ailing church members. Church had a community purpose and its people took care of those needs.
As I drove up and down the tree-lined streets, the well-kept homes looked a lot older, but what was most striking—many of the churches were either boarded-up or were used for something else. Gone. No Sunday services, no more help for the community, no more love to share. Just more sad statistics.
Before we lose more, let’s begin to fix our broken churches. They need people willing to love like Jesus did, willing to belong, willing to share their resources, and willing to help others.
And if we would, maybe, just maybe, our weary nation would feel our love. Then it might be like Christian artist Toby Mac’s lyrics:
“Mama always said it’s a matter of fact that when love is in the house the house is packed.”
And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. John 13:34