Group recently polled church-goers and asked them why they go to church. Here’s what they found:
51% go to worship God
10% go to learn something new
8% go to feel better
8% go out of duty–”God wants me to”
5% go for their children
4% go to be with friends
2% go out of habit
1% go because a spouse or friend expects them to go
The remaining people go for a variety of other reasons.
In a recent conversation recanted to me, this person overheard a group of moms who were discussing why they attend a particular, very large church. Here is what they concluded.
The preaching doesn't convict you.
They don't talk about tithing.
Their kids are in another part of the building.
All the moms were giddy and decided to attend church together. (Leaving their current church homes.)
Is going to church tomorrow more or less about what you will or will not experience? I am genuinely concerned with the direction that many pastors are taking their church in. Here are some trends that are scaring me.
God wants you to be happy all the time.
Motivational speaking is replacing the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
Fundraising is replacing Biblical sowing and reaping.
Children's and youth ministries are more about entertainment than discipleship and character development.
Worship is an event, not a way of life.
Let me break this down for you.
Someone did some marketing research and developed a church model around what people want. It is VERY successful and easy to replicate. It is easy for them to say that "Jesus" did it because they sing about Jesus, talk about Jesus and encourage people to have a relationship with Jesus. They admit that worship services are a "Gospel lite" type of ministry. (That's another way of saying, dumbed down) If you wanted "deeper" - then join a small group. Why is this successful? Because it's what people want.
What is really going on.
People have been convinced to trade "happier" for what should be "better". If a sermon or teaching convicts you of something, that isn't the pastor or teachers design. It is the Holy Spirit of God moving in your heart! "But I feel bad!" That's why it's called conviction! The purpose of which is to develop a better and more enriching relationship with Jesus. Happier is an emotion which is here today and gone tomorrow. Joy is better! It sees you though the tough times. God primary reason to move in your life isn't to make you happier, it's to make sure that you will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
If your church isn't teaching you something, at some level that is challenging you to change your character and grow (mature) as a Christian, then what are they doing? There is this belief that the Word of God should fit culture somehow - therefore things like homosexuality and tithing are passe. But Jesus said that His teachings would be counter cultural - that the world would not agree with Him.
The idea that church leadership is here to do all the "good stuff" and leave the "conviction and challenging stuff" to the Holy Spirit is a cop-out. All though the New Testament we see Jesus, the Apostles and Paul challenging people to come out of the darkness they were living in and embrace the grace of Jesus. Then we see Paul challenge churches to mature and grow up (1 and 2 Cor.).
What should you do?
#1 - Pray and ask God where to go to church. Then stay there! When other people invite you to their church - just say NO!
#2 - Attend a church that is built around the model of the New Testament. Not marketing.
#3 - Disciple the inner child in you that wants everything "right now"! Church is the way God wants it - not the way you want it.