I recently read some interesting statistics about church attendance. According to a recent Barna study, among American adults 51% say that church attendance is “not too” or “not at all” important to them, while 49% say that church attendance is “somewhat” or “very” important to them. When we zoom in on the Millennial generation only about 2 in 10 say that church attendance is important to them!
There are many reasons why young adults are losing interest in the church, but one of the primary reasons cited is that they fear the church will not accept them for their lifestyle or they see the church as being condemning and hateful towards the lifestyle of others.
Certainly, there are two sides to this the story – church-goers are often guilty of legalism and moralism while those who don’t attend church are often misinterpreting the situation.
My next two posts will be addressing this issue. This first post is directed to church-goers.
I have yet to meet a Christian who says that they want to be labeled a legalistic, self-righteous moralist, yet so many Christians are labeled as such. The issue is not in one’s intention, for most Christians mean well, but in one’s approach. As Jesus-followers our commission is not to make kind, well mannered, moral people. Our commission is not to make people who agree with your political or social opinion. Our commission is to make Jesus-followers. So we must first preach Jesus, not moral correctness. Asking someone to live morally before they know Jesus is like asking someone to cut down a tree and upon completion you will give them a chainsaw. You have the cart in front of the horse.
As an example, consider Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus encounters a woman, a Samaritan woman nonetheless, who is steeped in sin. In the conversation Jesus brings out her sin in a way that is not condemning, yet still convicting. The bulk of the conversation, however, is focused on Jesus’ identity not her sin. The conversation culminates with her saying that she knows the Messiah is coming and Jesus plainly telling her that he is the Messiah. (John 4:25-26) Jesus didn’t immediately administer a behavioral correction counseling session, he revealed himself to her knowing that faith in him would give her the power to change her life.
“Disciples [who are aware of their own sin and Christ’s sacrifice for them] are attractive because they don’t exude an ‘I am better than you’ persona but just the opposite – an ‘I am probably worse than you, but God saves bad people like us’ persona.”- Darrin Patrick