Give Me That Ole Time Religion

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The debate on how the church should impact the world and what is its mission is the subject of debate by theologians from the early days of Christianity. It was the impetus for the western church’s reformation and countless other splits in the church. Today with church attendance dwindling especially among younger people many pastors and denominations are wondering how to reach them. Religion itself appears to be under attack. Some have elected to incorporate new high-tech light shows and videos. Others change the décor of not only the church, but also of the members. And some use less traditional worship during the services, replacing traditional hymns and gospel for more modern productions of music and dance. I wonder if these modern services are producing the desired effect on the participants. The problem with this approach in my opinion is just like everything in these millennials lives it is being catered to them. Since birth, they’ve lived in a world which has accommodated their every need. Their parents have coddled them and their schools are more concerned with self-actualization than learning how to read and write.

The main reason millennials don’t go to church is because their parents didn’t go to church. Raised with no religion, they have little to no religious foundation. Without the moral anchor of church it is little wonder their lives seem hollow and self-absorbed. And as these trends continue there will be greater chaos in the lives of the people and the world. God does not need people, people need God. If you never learn this lesson growing up, the lesson is more difficult to grasp at a later age. It’s like a single person, the longer they remain single the more difficult for them marry. We are to train up our children in the ways of the Lord; this is the purpose they were given to us by God. Parents are neglecting this and their children are suffering. Humanism has replaced religion in many homes. Just being a good person is not enough.

“The role of the church is to see a need, meet a need,” AD3 says, sitting next to his wife, Jessica, aka Lady J, in their Lee’s Summit home. “Those changes were about doing an introspection on what the need was and being willing to do everything it takes to meet that need. If that meant tearing down walls of tradition, so be it.”

“A lot of times tradition is employed by the church at the expense of turning people away, at the expense of unnecessarily offending people,” AD3 says. “At the expense of souls into the kingdom.”Pastor Armour D. Stephenson III, City of Truth Ministry

My church tradition teaches me following Jesus is difficult if it wasn’t everyone would do it. This teaching removes the need for the passion of Christ. Without sin, then Christ died for nothing. When we minimize the role of sin in people’s lives we do a disservice to the teachings of Christ. Jesus well knew of the destructive power of sin and temptation. When asked what shall I do to inherit the Kingdom, Jesus said nothing about participating in church, drinking a latte, or a slick light show. Instead He said it would be difficult to take up your cross and follow Him. The Christian life should be difficult and require sacrifice, because by nature we are selfish and egotistical. The Christian life is the antithesis of the world in which we live, where being the richest, the best-looking, and the most famous is the mantra. The life of a Christian is not about following arbitrary rules, it’s more than that. It is about changing one’s character and one’s focus from themselves to others.

“So often people approach topics putting the focus on sin,” Kyle says. “For people to change their life, they need to see that God is good, not that God is a tyrant. We have to authentically care about people. I’m not worried about your sexuality right now. I’m not worried about what you did Saturday night. I’m worried about what do you know about Jesus and how can I tell you more about him. Not let me tell you why God is upset at you.”

Traditional churches alienated younger worshippers, says Kyle at The Cause, because they were “talking about stuff that wasn’t relevant to people’s problems.

“We have to authentically care for people and have conversations that actually matter to them. How do they deal with their self-image when everything is so plastered in this Instagram society we live in? How do they find worth?”Pastor Kyle Turner, The Cause Ministry

I think the key to any church’s success is the relationship between the people. All people want to feel appreciated and valued. However, the answer is not to transform the church into Starbucks. This country has become too casual. Not everyone will be saved and if Jesus dying on the Cross for you is not enough to get you to follow Him, then I doubt anything will. The Lord said blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. The reason people are not going to church is not because of God, but because of the people at the church. You can change the music, the clothes, or anything else but if people don’t feel love and acceptance, they will not come. Instead of a museum like many churches have become where God has placed His saints on display, the church should be a hospital where the sick and the downtrodden come and feel welcomed.

…”that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”[1]

[1] Philippians 3:8-10