Our Faith in the Faith
I wish I could tell you that my passion for the church does not lead me at times to sadness. However, it does. For the past few months and even years, I've read countless articles surrounding why people are leaving the church. I wrote a brief article on why I sincerely loved the body of Christ. Yet, here I am writing another article about a similar topic. It seems that people crave dooming stories. To hear that "many" people are leaving the church must be a smirk of pride to those who sincerely hate certain ideas or strategies some churches have used to draw in the masses. However, we are overlooking the obvious. The plethora of amazing churches with amazing pastors and thriving congregations.
The optimism and faith that comes from being rooted in Christ has been drowned out by voices who would rather spend their countless hours debating on the state of the "church". We have bloggers dedicated to targeting pastors that they do not agree with. Some Christians rush to the sign of a failed church or a pastor scandal with hopes of setting the record straight about "holiness" and how the church "should be".
In the midst of all of this confusion, we have missed the mission and vision of what it means to be "the church". What I have found so interesting is that while "many" quote that Christians are leaving the church, the data suggests something much different. The scope has been focused on American Christians. Since when does the United States of America mark the end and the beginning of the Christian faith? Articles from all over the internet depict people leaving Christianity as some sort of huge Exodus. Yet, the facts remain that Christianity is the #1 faith in the entire world leading at 31.4% since 2010 with Muslims coming in at second with 23.2% according to Pew Research Center.
What does this have to do with anything?
My mother has always taught me that if you do not have faith in something then your voice is nothing but a distraction instead of a tool of action. What the church needs are active vessels who are willing to support and stand in the gap. We don't need 40 more articles on the negative thoughts of the church. I guarantee you that you will be able to find them somewhere via Google typed up already. As the granddaughter and presently daughter of a pastor, I say what I say with a deep sense of passion. The faithless voices should leave the forefront of whatever they consider to be in their minds "progress".
Like any other community, the church is in need of healing and more. However, we are ignoring the wonderful local bodies who are doing an excellent job of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not all Christians gossip and talk. Not all "church folk" are sleeping around, cursing at each other, and going behind each other's backs. We have allowed negative experiences to dictate an entire global community. We have made our faith to seem as if there aren't missionaries in our countries and abroad who are sacrificing what they have to spread the gospel. We seem as if there aren't amazing pastors with superb volunteers and staff who aren't giving their time to create long-lasting communities. We have focused on the minor and have ignored the major.
So what is my challenge to you? Just see if you can spend 24 hours finding the good within the body of Christ instead of always sharing the bad. Where is our faith in the faith? The fact is that even though Americans may be leaving the faith, the church as a global community is growing. I've never focused on who is leaving. I've instead focused on winning souls because that's what I read in my bible. Yes, there are churches who abuse the gospel and twist it to conform to their opinions. However, my job is to spread the truth and walk in love. When one soul is saved, all of heaven rejoices. We don't need more critics. We need more faith-filled leaders who are willing to push forward in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many who do not know who Jesus Christ is. We have focused for far too long on who is not doing "their job". Some churches do not want to be "fixed" via the opinions listed in articles or platforms. There are some pastors who could care less about souls. We must pray for them but we can not forget or lose the mission at hand. We argue day and night about frivolous biblical theories and titles. Yet, what about the souls?
So for those who have a 200 page list of why people are leaving the church....I thank you for your list. However, just know that our focus should be shifted. Many of the reasons that I've seen listed are merely opinions. People fight about stage sets and worship music. However, I've seen on the flip side that those who come into the church don't understand the essence of the church. I'll never forget when someone came to my small local church and told me that we were too focused on "entertaining the flesh". His reason why he said that? Because we were singing Israel & New Breed. It was "too upbeat' and sounded "like the world". The "pettiness" of his opinions reminds me now of many of the articles that I read. I really do say this in love.
We need to start providing solutions. We need to be active within our churches. We must have a commitment to souls and Jesus Christ above all else. There are far too many great churches for us to be focused on the horrible ones. Those who snide at my previous sentence should check their heart. If you don't believe that good churches exist then there is problem right there. Lack of faith produces no results.