Answers to the four reasons
Faith author Thom Schulz has released a new book entitled, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore”. He has written a blog and has been interviewed on the topic contained in his book. Before we address the details, let’s take a moment to review the foundations of what the church are…
- First, the Foundation of the Church is Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:11-20).
He is God incarnate. He is from the beginning the Word of God; present in the act of creation; incarnate in the God-man Jesus Christ; dead and buried as the propitiation for our sins; and risen again, sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
- Second, the church has nothing to do with a building, a denomination, a religion, a sect, or anything else that is not Christ. The church are the people who have humbled themselves; confessed their sins; and repented, turning away from the old life to a new one as the bride of Christ.
We want to take a look at this same topic as it is on the minds of many in leadership positions at church buildings today, The Blaze interviewed Thom Schulz on his book and the main four reasons within the book. The identity of the article’s worldview can be determined from the opening paragraph, which states:
- What is behind the increasingly empty pew? Is it the threshing of the Holy Spirit? Are these losses the listeners or are they the hearers? The answer to these questions reveal the heart of the church and will spawn innumerable additional questions as we ask God to search our hearts. After Christ taught about being the bread of life saying “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:52) “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (John 6:63-64). “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:66) Is it about numbers or is it about Christ?
- How can we get involved to reverse the trend? Do we need to? The Scripture states that “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 (Please read the whole chapter to make sure that you understand the context). Thus, it is God who works to bring those to Christ. This is proven out in John 6:44 No one can come to Christ unles the Father draws him. This is why so many will fall away during troubled times (see the Parable of the Sower; Matthew 13:1-23 and Luke 8:4-15).
Within the remainder of the article are summary answers to the four topics/reasons although the four topics are not fully spelled out in the interview. Thom did spell them out in his blog on Churchleaders.com. Here they are straight from that blog. I have combined the four reasons and answers from the blog and the interview here below:
- BLOG: “I feel judged.” Gabe Lyons’ and David Kinnaman’s research in their book UnChristian confirms that “church people judge me.” According to their studies, 87 percent of Americans label Christians as judgmental. Fair or unfair, most people view the church as critical, disapproving, and condemning. Whether it’s behavior, looks, clothes, choice of friends, lifestyle decisions, or whatever, the church has a solid reputation for acting as judge and jury over our individual differences.
INTERVIEW: Schultz argues that people feel judged, so he proposes “radical hospitality,” which essentially means embracing a church paradigm of full acceptance. “We don’t mean endorse, but we mean accept the person,” he said. “We feel that that’s a Christ-like approach to things.”
- BLOG: “I don’t want to be lectured.” More than ever, people today want to participate in the discussion. One man told us he’s talked with more than a thousand other men who’ve given up on church. He said, “Guys don’t want to sit in a room and idly listen to some preacher do all the talking. They want to ask questions. They want to share their thoughts, too.” The same goes for women. They don’t want another one-way lecture.
INTERVIEW: As for the lack of two-way dialogue, Schultz encourages “fearless conversation” — which means incorporating numerous viewpoints rather than simply lecturing. ”By that title, it’s really emphasizing both of those words,” he told TheBlaze. “People want to be involved in the conversation.” So, he is encouraging people to speak boldly on principle, but to also share ideas.
- BLOG: “Church people are a bunch of hypocrites.” This isn’t a small minority talking. A whopping 85 percent make this claim. We know, we know. Every church leader in America is weary of this “excuse.” But people aren’t merely referring to incongruous behavior. What bothers them is the sense that church leaders act as if they alone have all the answers. As if they’ve arrived. As if they’re only interested in telling others what to do—“teaching,” to use ministry vernacular.
INTERVIEW: Schultz said that many believers and non-believers, alike, claim that “Christians are hypocrites” — and that this mindset is increasing. To stem the critique, the author is calling for “genuine humility.” This is the notion that life is a journey that everyone is on together. Being humble and truly addressing issues without giving the appearance of being above it all is essential under this proposed solution.
- BLOG: “Your God is irrelevant to my life. But I’d like to know there is a God and he cares about me.” Research by the Barna Group reveals that only 44 percent of people who attend church every week say they regularly experience God at church. They’re not looking for the deep theological trivia that seems to interest a lot of preachers. They crave something rather simple. They want to be reassured that God is real, that he is more than a historical figure, that he is present today, and that he is active in the lives of people around them.
INTERVIEW: With so many critics also arguing that God is distant and dead, Schultz believes that Christian churches need to re-tune their messaging and implement “divine anticipation.” “In many churches we have either forgotten to talk about God or the primary and almost only mention of God is from Bible times,” he said. “The Bible is a wonderful tool for us to use … but if we give the impression that God [only] acted thousands of years ago, we’ve given the impression that God only did good things back then — and that he either died or went away.”
Of all of these reasons, it is only…
#3: Church People are a bunch of hypocrites. that we can agree upon. The Christian is a hypocrite! The Christian must be humble! However, there is some level of the “teaching” that Schultz refers to. Paul both says that he has not obtained (Philippians 3:1-14) and he also says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Apostle Paul was one of the foremost Bible writers that had the answers. He imitated Christ and even then says to test everything in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. The Apostle John says to test every spirit to see if it is from God (1 John 4:1). And Christ himself says that you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). Thus, while it is a fact that we are hypocrites. We are saved; justified; sanctified; and redeemed. Thus, our sins are in the past. They are forgiven. They are forgotten and we can walk justified in the fullness of grace. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corintians 6:1-11).
Let’s look at the others…
#1: I feel judged. I have a simple response to this… You think? In order to understand this, one must read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). We must understand the life of Christ. Then we must follow this up with the rest of the New Testament that both refer back to the Old Testament truths and to Christ himself. There is too much to go into all of this here so we humbly ask you read these texts and discern for yourself that there are judgements that the true Church inherently makes. We are called to discernment. We are called to correction, reproof and teaching (2 Timothy 3:16) and this is what Schultz has an issue with. His “‘radical hospitality,’ which essentially means embracing a church paradigm of full acceptance” is antithesis to what Christ says when he says “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4). Therefore, we must not compromise. We ARE to judge, but, we are to judge in the right manner. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) We know this because Christ follows this up immediately with “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6). Thus, we must be able to discern dogs and pigs so that we do not give up what is holy and of great worth.
#2: I dont want to be lectured. Again, I don’t know what to say to this one. Look through the Gospels and you will see Christ teaching for his entire ministry. Our teachers in our schools (regardless of the school) lecture us every day of school. Our parents lecture us. Lecture is a very important part of training. As the body of Christ, we call this discipleship. Christ lectured the masses. He taught; told parables; fed, trained and healed as he lectured. This is all recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Christ said that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments… even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive… (John 14:15-17). The Spirit of truth guides us as we press on towards the mark. We will stand therefore and state “Please lecture us… But do not expect that we will not test everything you say by the Scriptures and will hold it accountable.”