MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

February 18, 2014

Most doubt worth of attending church

Hebrews 10:24-27 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

Fifty-one percent of people in America don’t think it’s important to attend church. Forty percent of Americans have not attended any church function in the last six months. That number is up from 33 percent just 10 years ago (May 2013 Barna Group survey of 1,086 adults over age 18).

According to the Hebrew writer, this is not a new problem. As human beings, Christians have always struggled with being faithful to Christ and the institution He died for (Eph 5:25).

We all know that people are going to find acceptance somewhere. If it’s not with a church family, it is often with groups or individuals that are not necessarily thinking about the soul. In fact, the marginalized of society who feel rejected by the mainstream are often targeted by individuals or groups that only want to use them for what they can get out of them. Acceptance is offered, but it often comes at a higher price than the seeker ever knew they would be expected to pay. The church is to be Jesus to everyone, especially the outcasts.

The survey also says that 59 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian upbringing have either dropped out of church temporarily or altogether.

When that same group, the millennial generation, was asked the question, “What made your faith grow?” Church did not even make the top 10. The top spot was 1) Prayer,  2) Family or friends, 3) Reading the Bible, 4) Having children, 5) Relationship with Jesus, 6) Death or illness of a loved one, 7) My own beliefs, 8) Marriage or significant other, 9) God provided during hard times, 10) I have not grown spiritually.

So what can Christians (who make up the church) do to slow the trend of church unpopularity? After all, if people (churched or unchurched) want to hear a good sermon or lesson, they can go online and listen to whomever they please. If they want socialization, they can visit with people through electronic media using Facebook or online video gaming groups.

There are some things that can only be experienced by face-to-face human interaction. The early church came together on the first day of the week to remember the Lord’s death while eating the unleavened bread and drinking the fruit of the vine representing the body and the blood (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:17-26). Imagine the stories they exchanged! They also sang, prayed to God for one another, studied the Bible with each other, and gave of their income for the work of the church. It was a deliberate, not accidental, effort to make a difference. All of this, with persecution looming around every corner.

Paul told the church to “Greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom 16:16).” You see, when we stop approaching church only from a worship checklist standpoint, and start allowing Jesus to change who we are at the very core of our being, we will see everything in life, including our daily purpose, much differently. Only then, will people’s opinion of the church change, and the trend of disinterest turn around. Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@fggcc.org.

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