Christians Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church”

“I Love Jesus but not so much the church”?

We’ve heard it said before: You can’t both love Jesus and not like the church. Admittedly, I even echoed similar sentiments using the analogy of one’s best friend marrying someone you don’t like; going on to say, because of this, the friendship probably wouldn’t work once they tied the knot.

Obviously, there are holes in this analogy that I painfully and embarrassingly recognize today. For starters, comparing observable relationships to an unobservable deity is in and of itself a hot mess… But, also, the idea that you can’t be in relationship with Jesus if you don’t love the church implies that Jesus (“God incarnate” in Christian thought) would then reject you for not accepting this programmatically institutionalized version of what we call “church”… it’s manipulatively toxic and ironically points to why people don’t like the institution labeled as “the church.”

Oddly enough, what prompted this post was a recent study Barna Group did on those who claim to “Love Jesus but not the church.”

Here’s Barna’s breakdown…

“To get at a sense of enduring faithfulness among Christians despite a rejection of the institutional church, Barna created a metric to capture those who most neatly fit this description. It includes those who self-identify as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious faith is very important in their life, but are “dechurched”—that is, they have attended church in the past, but haven’t done so in the last six months (or more). These individuals have a sincere faith (89% have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important to their life today), but are notably absent from church[1].”

Most Surprising About this Data

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