My entire life Christianity felt wrong to me. I was too young to pin point what exactly it was that made it feel so, not right.
It’s not only that Christiainity seemed to go against my human nature in a repressive manner. It was that Christianity simply did not sound like it was good news to me, or anyone else for that matter.
It didn’t feel like “freedom,” rather it felt more like enslavement.
Everything I did as a Christian, was for my salvation, it had very little to do with Jesus. It was all about heaven, and had very little to do with Jesus. To put it more plainly, it was all about us and had little to do with Jesus.
It was because we mistook love as control, and convoluted it with fear, guilt, and shame. So our relationships with Christ were not filled with light, but rather darkness.
Bringing it back around, this is why my entire life Christianity felt wrong. It was because the church was pointing towards darkness and calling it light, they were pointing towards death and calling it life. They were pointing towards an impostor faith and calling it Christianity.
I speak in these generalities because of the research showing that the predominant Christian has experienced something similar.
“It is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather, more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by quite different religious faith.” – Melinda Denton
Most of us know the statistics. David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons pointed out we have a little bit of an image crisis, George Barna showed us what we’re doing programmatically isn’t working, it’s hurting, while the National Study of Youth and Religion has shown youth pastor’s that their ministry’s have been a 50 year failed experiment (I could keep going but you get the point, hopefully).
What kills me most are the pastor’s who attend conferences, buy books, sign up for online “webinars,” and are all asking and wondering desperately how they can save the American Church, when the answer is right in front of them in the form of a simple question…
What if we just did what Jesus was telling us to do?
What if we actually discipled people?
What if we literally acknowledged the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned?
Now follow me here with this last one, if you’re a church leader this might sound too radical for you, but just follow me…
What if, you cultivated a community of believers that lived their lives as if their life was not about them!What a novel idea!
The only catch is, you’ll have to also live a life that’s not about you. I hate to say it, but I’m gonna say it anyways… the poll’s are out (I mean literally massive research campaigns have been done, both Christian and secular, including the one’s listed above) and they’re all showing, you’re the problem.
The pastor. The church leadership.
You are killing your own church (I wrote here as to why that’s really not a bad thing, well for you it is, but for the rest of us it’s not).
“The problem is that the lay people in the pews (or theatre seats) are no longer living in a bubble. Gone are the days of “Pastor said it, I believe it, that settles it!” The new Evangelicals are far more informed, far more connected, and are far more skeptical when it comes to dogmatic teaching that seems to undermine the person, work, and message of Jesus.”
American’s at large, are not buying this theological malpractice that is resulting in an impostor faith. It sometimes feel’s like everyone but the local pastor has read the bible, and is well informed on the life of Christ, and what it means to live like Him.
I think this is why a new poll released in November is showing a over a 20% increase of Americans favoring the Pope (57%), since July, 2013 where it was at 35%.* It’s because he’s presenting a good news. He’s living out the gospel. He’s not implementing pumped up programs, that seem “cool” and “attractive,” he’s emulating the life of CHRIST.
People, we want meaning, purpose, and depth. We want a faith and person worth dying for. We want JESUS. Cool and attractive are shallow, yes they will get people in the door, but they won’t keep people from walking out the door. You want to save your church? Choose which Jesus you’re going to model your life after:
The biblical Jesus or the Americanized version of Jesus.
[*In my first draft of this post i stated, “the Catholic church has grown by 20% since Francis stepped in and became pope…” After double checking this statistic, it was misquoted to me, and I’ve changed it to the correct statistic, linking to the poll given by the WSJ]