Ocober 24, 2010

Since we have been discussing the "Out-of-church" Christians, I think it is very important for us all - including church leaders - to look at the reasons why these people are leaving. Very often they are NOT "church-hoppers" or backsliders. A lot of them are leaving because they believe the CHURCH is backsliding!

So many people write to me from all over the world saying that they have tried and tried - but they cannot find any fellowship in their town that seems remotely biblical. They tell me they have looked hard - but they are either cold, formal, or anti-charismatic on one hand - or "hyper-charismaniac" or 'seeker-sensitive' on the other. There hardly seems to be any balanced biblical approach whichever way they turn.

It is easy to pass glib remarks like "There is no perfect church" but my heart truly goes out to these ones because the church scene has been bad for awhile - and seemingly growing worse and worse. So what are people to do?

Below are some accounts that people have sent me about why they have left the churches.

From: Peggy (-USA):
"My husband and I have been Christians for 30 years, home group leaders for much of that time; my husband has also been a worship leader for most of that time. However, now we are among the "out of church" that your message describes, although we do continue to meet and pray with other believers who feel the same longing for something more real than we have experienced for longer than we care to remember. The cry of our hearts is *not* to live on our memories of incredible intimacy with God in years past, but to discover Him anew and in deeper ways than ever before. We are desperate for Him. In light of that hunger, the emptiness of our church experience, a church we'd attended for 17 years, was more than we could bear."

From: Randy (-USA):
"I read an explanation of why the phenomenon is growing - the out-of-church Christians. They say that we are lone rangers, backsliders, not team players, have bitter root judgements.... This can't be further from the truth. When we have been attending church, we find- No God - No Power- No Gospel- Bad Agendas- Poor Leader-ship- Bad teaching- Bad programs- No Christ- No Healing- No miracles. Just a struggle for personal power and control. I can't tell you how many times I have been treated like I am not going to Heaven because I am not attending church. So, the sad part is, where do we take our gifts, our (money), and our love - but out to the streets. We know many who have left the church, who are committed as prayer warriors, intercessors, missionaries, and worshippers. Wanting to share their gifts from God..."

From: Dorie (Canada)- 
"I wanted to write to you because I am so frustrated and don't know what to do anymore... I grew up in a church denomination that was wacky-charismatic with little-to-no-discernment and a lot of control/ spiritual abuse.  About 10 years ago, the Lord gave me my first wake-up call, grabbing my attention and then 5-6 years ago, another big, final one...

Now I haven't really been "a part of a Sunday-morning-church" for a long, long time.  I have "fellowship" with some Evangelical Christians here in Calgary, but just can't seem to be able to sit through the dry services that seem filled with flowery messages, as opaque as milk. (I want meat!!!)  The worship feels like it is being led by robots as do the people in the congregation. Or else, the charismatic churches (Vineyard, Pentecostal, non-denominational) where they're not considered to be "dry" (so-to-speak), are just plain wacky! My problem is: I miss really good worship music and intimate worship times with people who love to worship and aren't being forced-too, but the only handful of churches I know that have it, are wacky.  People (worship leaders/ intercessors) are acting like Stacey Campbell and I get turned off so much that I can't tolerate the rest of the service.  I feel so torn. I can't seem to find a church to "fit" in.

I've tried different denominations with no success.  The last evangelical "small group" I was in, ended breaking up because the small-group pastor was purposely hiding the fact that a christian couple who were co-leading with him, were living together and not married. (Once saved, no need for any more personal repentance, is what he preaches. Greasy-grace. Argh!)... The pastor also told other young christians in that group that "sex before marriage was fine"...

I have tried so many places and I'm not being fussy or picky, it just seems really, really hard and weird here... I really want the fellowship. I can't seem to fit anywhere, and I am so frustrated that I could just cry. I long to be with like-minded people, sold-out, crazy-on-fire for Jesus, totally unashamed.  Christians here seem so focused on their careers, and houses, and cars, and vacations and I feel like a stinkin' hippie around them because I can't live for those things!!

What do you do when you want so desperately to be in a fellowship of believers that is growing strong in the Word, intimate and deep in worship, and not wacky?  I am so discouraged and have a hard time believing that it exists..."