Many church leaders are dismayed that so many members have left their churches. They wonder how they can stem the tide and what they can ultimately do to bring them back. Studies indicate a growing percentage of people who claim belief in God yet seldom attend church services anywhere, a disturbing trend indeed.
What’s the problem? Maybe the answer lies not so much with the members leaving their churches as with the churches leaving their members. Sure, all kinds of distractions tend to divert people’s attention away from proper focus on their spiritual lives. But there’s something more fundamental in play. Many people end up leaving their churches as a result of a distinct impression that their churches have long since left them!
Christianity did not develop as a result of society’s evolving thinking. It is not a philosophy that changes with, and adapts itself to, mankind’s self perceived growing sophistication. Christianity, of which the church is a central part, was already in God’s mind before He created man (Eph. 3:8-11). Man did not devise Christianity or the church- God did!
One of the greatest flaws in the thinking of many church leaders is that they can improve the church by changing it to suit the times! They look for ways to make the church more relevant. So, they institute programs that are supposed to address the needs of the day. They design worship to be less threatening and to supposedly speak more to people’s needs through philosophical jargon. In the process, direct study from the scriptures is de-emphasized. Straightforward, doctrinal teaching that demands obedience has been set aside so as to be more palatable and not offend the masses.
As a result, worship assemblies in many churches have become fully choreographed productions. They come complete with huge choirs, vocal groups, bands, perhaps even orchestras. Preaching has largely given way to stage plays and skits and puppet shows. The appearance is more along the line of a show, rather than worship to God. It’s more a matter of appealing to and entertaining people than showing adoration to God.
Many people are passing by these kinds of churches and settling in with others that appear to be teaching the Bible in a loving yet straightforward and authoritative way. These folks are not looking for compromise or feel good pop-psychology. They want real direction and authority, clear cut Bible teaching they can hold onto and through which they can find real meaning for their lives. Church leaders would do well to take note and make teaching the Bible a center attraction in their worship assemblies.
How about you? Has your church left you? We would love to help you find the church of the Bible through an easy to understand, informative study from God’s word. Either talk to one of us personally, or write down your name and mailing address on a piece of paper, and note thereon that you would like to receive a free Bible study through the mail. Hand your note to one of our members or to the preacher on your way out after services. This could be one of the most important things you have done in a very long time…
Gary L. Hutchens