10 Things the Church Puts Ahead of Reaching People

10 Things the Church Puts Ahead of Reaching People March 23, 2015

You would think the Great Commission is clear enough: Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Unfortunately, too many churches put other things ahead of reaching people. Here are 10 of the biggest:

3.23.15

  1. Location – Some people are tied to an address. Church is an address, a location. I’ve seen churches die because their people moved away and they weren’t willing to reach the new folks in their neighborhood.
  2. Buildings/Architecture – For some, the bricks and mortar are what make the church sacred, not the people. At my first church when our youth group exploded in growth we had to move into the sanctuary because it was the only room big enough for us. We had some ladies that were so concerned that every Thursday morning they would come into the sanctuary after our Wednesday nights and look up and down the pews for knicks or scratches. They were more concerned with the architecture then the people that architecture was designed to meet.
  3. Tradition – You knew this one would get in here. Tradition has killed many a church. When churches pursue the past more than they pursue people, that church will die. Many times preachers will preach on the last seven words of Jesus, the seven phrases Jesus said while on the cross. I’ll never forget what a Bible college professor told me once. He said, “Do you know what the last seven words of a church are? We’ve never done it that way before.”
  4. Music preferences – This one splits up more churches than perhaps anything else. We’re fine reaching the next generation for Jesus, as long as they like our music our way. That’s putting music preferences above people. And I’m not saying the contemporary music is the final answer. It’s not a particular style of music but the heart behind that’s willing to give up musical preferences to reach the next generation for Jesus. I’ve said this before, but when I’m older and I’ve got great-grandkids running around, I’m not sure what kind of church music they’ll like, but I guarantee you I probably won’t like it. The question is will I be willing to put reaching others ahead of my musical preferences?
  5. Programs – The early church reached their world for Christ and became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire without Sunday School, without VBS, without youth groups or children’s choirs. Church programs are designed to reach people, but we can never let them become more important than people.
  6. Control – Some churches are stifled because there’s a few families in control, and they simply don’t want to give up control. They put control ahead of reaching people.
  7. Social Status – The Bible says that in Christ there are no slaves or free or Greeks or Barbarians but we are all one in Christ. However, too many churches aren’t willing to reach people outside of their racial, economic, or social status.
  8. Cleanliness – Some churches aren’t willing to do the heavy lifting required, they’re not willing to roll up their sleeves and embrace the messes of the world. If we’re not willing to get a little dirty, we’ll never reach the world.
  9. Status Quo – Some churches simply don’t want to change. They’re good. The light bill is paid, the buildings are paid off, there’s enough of a crowd to give the illusion that something is happening. Some churches aren’t willing to embrace the change necessary to reach people.
  10. Religion – Put it all together, some churches put religion above people. They put their rituals, their observances, their routines, their beliefs, their ministry structures ahead of people. They feel like they’re loving God, but they don’t realize that you can’t truly love God if you don’t love people.

QUESTION: What other things would you add to this list?

In response to the popularity of this post, I’ve written several follow-up blogs tied to this one. Please check out:

10 (More) Things the Church Puts Ahead of Reaching People – a follow up post based off of your comments on this post.

7 Things the Church Puts Ahead of Reaching People – the video clip of the first time I ever shared the information from this post.

The Way Forward Past the 10 Things – how to begin to move past the problems toward the solution.

How One Church Changed to Reach People – a real life story of how one church changed to better reach people.

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  • Cory

    Being right. Before loving. For lack of a better title. The church elevates specific sins as worse than others. They alienate that sinner and embrace another that seems less horrible. Then stand on select verses to prove their RIGHT. The only condemnation Jesus gave that I remember from my 25 years as a religious poster child were to the religious elite for their self righteous behavior.

    • Susan Craig

      I would agree with Ronda-right doctrine is important but without true love for God and others, it becomes just words we hide behind and our faith becomes a habit and not an act of grateful service to others because of all that God has done for us. Actions speak louder than words. Nothing can impact the witness of a church more than personal accountability and personal evangelism. How many new people are knocking on church doors wanting to come in?? Not very many because Christians have become too comfortable with what has always been and become so self serving that the church has lost it’s mission and purpose.

    • Fred

      Some sins are even ignored. Gluttony comes to mind. Homosexuality gets pointed out as a “lifestyle” sin. Isn’t gluttony a “lifestyle” sin in many cases?

      • joshdaffern

        Very good point!

        • Bill Ward

          And, sometimes folks are just to lazy to get up and go to church and make grouchy excuses. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the great things God provides in our churches? Shortcomings are to be expected as long as the Lord chooses to use People for His service. I don’t think there are any surprises here.

      • gayle holten

        Fred, how right you are. In light of the new Indiana law, and even long before that, I’ve said many times that gluttony is a sin and one has to conclude that God’s not to fond of gossip, either. You never, ever hear about that from the religious. In fact, the FLOTUS is trying to promote healthy eating and exercise for America’s children and she meets criticism and ridicule at every turn. I’ve wondered if a Hoosier could refuse to serve someone because their obese or the town gossip? Slippery slope, isn’t it?

        • Steve

          Gluttony is a sin. But most don’t have a clue what gluttony is. It is not simply overeating! The Romans perfected gluttony, which is much like Bulimia. They would eat until they could not eat any longer, because they lusted after the pleasure of taste of food, and then they would force themselves to vomit; so they could go eat more! When the Bible speaks of gluttony, it is speaking of this. It is sinful to call overweight people gluttons. The Bible never speaks of being overweight as being a sin. It may allude to it in the account of Ehud in Judges, but that is as close as it gets. People should not desire to be overweight, but I know people who have gained weight for one reason or the other who do not overeat. Yet many would call them gluttons. First make sure what you’re calling a sin is Biblical, then address it. There is also an order to sin where some sin is worse than others. Stealing never called for the death penalty, but homosexuality did. Lying never called for the death penalty but adultery did. So the social consequences of sins are not the same; but all sin does lead to death and Jesus is the only Savior from sin.

          • Brad

            Steve says – “Gluttony is a sin. But most don’t have a clue what gluttony is. It is not simply overeating! The Romans perfected gluttony, which is much like Bulimia. They would eat until they could not eat any longer, because they lusted after the pleasure of taste of food, and then they would force themselves to vomit; so they could go eat more! When the Bible speaks of gluttony, it is speaking of this. It is sinful to call overweight people gluttons.

            Where do you get the idea that ONLY binging and purging is what the Bible considers “gluttony?”

            Care to point out any scriptural basis?

            Because it sounds like you’re trying to take the heat off your own personal sin, while going on to insist that other peoples’ sins (e.g. homosexuality) do indeed deserve to be elevated above others and judged more harshly.

          • Zelda

            Thank you Steve. I did not know that. Now I must ask forgiveness for the error of my ways.

          • Jon

            WOW!!! Look at all the wonderful finger pointing. Makes me miss church all that much more.

        • Lacunaria

          FLOTUS has been a mouthpiece for the government’s compulsion of one version of healthy eating and exercise. It’s the “one version” and especially the “compulsion” for which she is rightly ridiculed and criticized.

  • Ronda

    Religion and culture are intertwined. We must respect others cultures first in order to follow the great Comission.

    • joshdaffern

      Very true Ronda!

      • Matthew Jones

        Can I add one caveat? I would say that we need to understand and use the culture to reach others for Christ, but it doesn’t mean that we have to conform to it. Jesus obviously was willing to meet people where they were, and also to reach to those who were not Jewish. This said, it was not as if he went to the pagan temples to worship. An understanding of a culture doesn’t mean that we forsake being true to our own, and especially to our savior.

        • joshdaffern

          Good caveat Matthew, I completely agree!

          • jas jun

            Hell is a major, not a miner concern…..you attack many but a tender heart will win better than alienating people as you seem gifted to do. You can’t lead people well can you….bible bully ?……..reading your responses wounds my spirit……harsh….sad…

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  • Amanda

    What is sad is that EVERYONE knows this in their heart but are unwilling to act due to many reasons–fear of change, inconvience, true belief that that church of the 1950’s is the only way, Etc.

    • joshdaffern

      Amanda I think you’re right on. When writing this post, I was pulling from 30 years of personal life experience in a half dozen churches, and watching hundreds of other churches, all which struggle with the same basic things.

    • Bob Williford

      You are correct Amanda, the way we did things in the ’50’s, as we have discovered, are not the only way to do church. Yes, I was a child then and survived the 60’s as a teen and it was in that time the Lord called me to preach the Gospel and ‘preached’ my first sermon as a Summer Missionary in 1968. With a degree from seminary in our hands, my wife and family trudged off to Peru as foreign missionaries and in all of this I have discovered that the Church in America and in Latin America is the same. We are all folks saved by His Grace seeking to do His will wherever He calls. But the challenge is the same…..we must get out of our skin and into His Spirit to serve….

  • Terry Koebernick

    Very Interested in what you said in this message and look forward to more information

    • joshdaffern

      Thanks Terry. In my posts on Wednesday and Thursday (March 25-26, 2015), I share a way forward past the ten steps. I hope those posts help begin to chart a way forward.

  • P. Steffensen

    Shame on us……

  • Allan

    Thank you for your thoughts! I’m just curious what things (if any) do you believe should be “ahead reaching people” in our churches today?

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Allan, the simple answer to your (great) question is to pursue people ahead of our preferences. If we put the mission, the Great Commandment, ahead of location, programs, status quo, etc., we’ll see lives changed. The solution has always been there. The difficulty comes in the fact that it requires so much change, so much loss of power, and so much uncomfortableness to get to that point that many opt out. Now, standing on the other side of a revitalized churched that spent years going through the process, I can tell you that the end is worth it. Lives are being changed here weekly and we’re in the middle of something big that God is doing. But the process to get here was longer and more painful then we would have imagined. That cost scares many churches away before they ever begin. And for it to work, the leadership has to be sold out to the cause. If the pastor and the leadership aren’t behind it, things will never change in that church. Hope this helps!

      • Bill Hamp10n

        I feel that any church #1 priority is to let people, especially visitors, know that they care about them.

        Churches that care will be bursting at the seams…..one’s that sincerely care, not that phony smile and never asking at least one question to show SINCERE interest. People want to feel SINCERE concern and love.

        • joshdaffern

          You’re absolutely right Bill. One of the biggest volunteer ministries at our church is our Host Team for that very reason.

      • Jay

        Josh,

        I would have to respectfully disagree with you on this particular point. Reaching the lost should be a top priority, but not ahead of teaching, and practicing of proper doctrine. We are commanded to earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. I fear this command has been severely neglected. As a former staff member of 16 years at two large evangelical churches, I have worked with many long time believers who cannot give even a basic explanation of the difference between justification and sanctification, let alone give a proper presentation of the Gospel.

        People aren’t “loved” into the Kingdom, they are drawn by the Father to Christ by the hearing of God’s Word.

        • joshdaffern

          Jay, I think we can agree to disagree on this one. Teaching and doctrine are important, I’ll give you that, but Jesus’ new command in John 13:33-34 was to love each other, not to teach each other. In Matthew 22 when Jesus gives us the Great Commandment, it’s to love others (not teach others or hold fast to doctrine). Now please hear me, doctrine and beliefs are incredibly important. The Apostle Paul spent much time in the epistles sorting out the Judaizers and false doctrines, but Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 8 said “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” This post was trying to highlight the need for loving people the way Christ would have us to.

          • John

            And yet the Great Commission, the basis of your initial post, tells us we must teach them to observe. Could it be that it is not an either/or but rather a both. Making disciples is more than just evangelism. Jesus Himself made disciples by inviting them to follow and then teaching them along the way.

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, but love, in turn, entails knowing the truth and moral wisdom.

            Cor 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

          • John McElhaney

            Thank you, The # 1 thing is to be faithful to the word and bring honor and glory to God. When we put reaching people ahead of truth. We will begin to preach anything and everything that will bring in the people. I have found over the years that the churches in America are full of lost people because we have brought them in with another gospel. No longer do we preach the wrath of God, only the love of God, and the love we preach is not the love taught in the word of God at all. If you love people you will tell them the truth, and that is that everyone who does not repent will perish in hell.

          • joshdaffern

            Hey John I think you’re on to something. In John 1 Jesus is described as being full of grace and truth (or to use your words, wrath and love). To be effective at reaching people AND to be faithful to the word, both are needed in full. It’s a tough line to walk. It’s much easier for a church to embrace one to the exclusion of the other.

  • Tamara

    Thanks for the article Josh. I would assert that social status is #1. If we are not willing to reach out of our comfort zone to not only serve but embrace and love people different than ourselves we can never know the full power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 there were a diversity of believers together and the Holy Spirit filled the whole house. If we think we can ignore or even worse hate or discriminate against people of a different color, class or language we need to search ourselves pray and ask God to fix that.

    • joshdaffern

      Absolutely Tamara! I’ve experienced Social Status way too many times as I would bring a friend to church only to have them rejected because they weren’t the right social status for the church. Heartbreaking.

  • Cooper Freeman

    Jehovah’s Witness’s are certainly do it and are ridiculed by the very ones not willing to lift a finger to help anyone. Jesus clearly warned that the world would clearly hate those choosing to be no part of it as he did. It would only make common sense that the organization that had God’s backing would be the one able to accomplish this work. Most do not even know what God’s Kingdom is, so how can they tell others about it ? Narrow and cramped is the road leading to life with few on it .

  • Minister C Pierson

    It’s not about religion. It’s about our personal relationship with Our Father.

    Don’t get swallowed in and wrapped up with the hype and the fads.

    Be ye holy for my Father in heaven is Holy. Be ye perfect as I am perfect.

    Love one another. Put no other god before Me and have no graven images (you know those pictures, etc., that we have hanging in our churches and in our homes!)

    If you can not love one another with no conditions and put God first in ALL things; one will be unable to do what thus saith the Lord God. (God loves each of us with and everlasting and unconditional love).

    Pray without ceasing.

    Feed those that are hungry, give drink to those that thirst, clothe the naked.

    Take the plank/speck from our own eye before trying to remove it from another.

    You know God says, “I chose you, you didn’t choose Me.”

    Study to show thyself approved unto God! (not man). (embrace, have intimacy with His Word) (I abide in you and you in Me.)

    Stop always thinking when we are being rebuked or corrected that we are being judged. God gave us AUTHORITY! Walk in it!

    Obedience.

    Forgiveness!!!!! (say what!) Yes, forgiveness!!!!!

    Sin can consume. The thought may enter and once that thought is turned into action (conception,) we’re impregnated with it and we can only totally repent or give birth to it. Hate the sin not the sinner. We are to restore our Brothers and Sisters.

    When we know better – we do better.

  • Minister C Pierson

    “Church”

    A place of worship.

    What is our heart desiring? What is our heart giving? What is our worship? Who is the One we worship?

    Out of the heart the mouth speaks.

    We are His disciples. And as the Son of God spoke to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build My church.” What “rock” are we that we strip naked and allow God to build?

    WE ARE THE CHURCH!!!

  • karen

    I think we fear what people will think of us more than we fear the accountability before God. Talking about spiritual things in an age of politcal correctness leaves us in a dilema. We hope our actions or our example will be enough but the bible clearly calls us to word

    and deed.

    • joshdaffern

      I think you’re right on Karen. We’ve seen/experienced so many bad examples of evangelism that many have thrown out the baby with the bathwater and stopped verbally sharing altogether.

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  • harold joedeman

    ok like it true

  • I took a steady look at the header photo and I could not help notice a preponderance of women in the congregation. Where are the men? And not mere elderly guys, but from all ages, social class and walks of life. In our fellowship we have students of both genders from a nearby uni making a regular attendance. But although we have also done reasonably well on the cosmopolitan scale – foreign students and families alike- we could do with a lot more from the working class. Especially men from the building and allied trades, gardeners, landscapers, and so on.

    Also we are not too hung-up on the dress code. Suits and ties for the men, although considered practically essential in the 1950’s and ’60’s ( I remember when I was a boy attending a Roman Catholic church where I, along with my parents, were obliged to don the Sunday best) – thankfully these days such attire is not strictly called upon. The whole point is: A meeting venue full of wealthy-looking, well-attired ladies and gentlemen may put many other people off, both the young and older alike.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Frank,

      Thanks so much for commenting. The header photo is actually one I pulled off a random Google search. It’s not of the church I pastor. I didn’t want to label any one church. I agree that the high number of women and older men in that particular photo doesn’t exactly lend itself to reaching the next generation.

      • John

        The header photo shows what is happening to our country as well as our religion.

        Our movement away from God and Church. The two basic foundations on

        on which our country was built. Has put not only our children’s future in peril but the future of our country.

    • Susan

      Maybe they were all in the choir! 🙂

  • catherine

    Church is a Hospital for Sinners NOT a Museum for Saints!

    • joshdaffern

      So true!

  • George Hoerman

    Clothes – Some people put a ton of emphasis on how people dress at church. Our pastor likes to dress in a very unconventional manner. It is one of the things that convinced me to come back to church – he is not your typical minister. But a group of the older people at church hounded him so much that he has changed his dress quite a bit. It is sad. I know if those people judge the pastor himself by how he dresses, then they judge me even more. That makes me very uncomfortable.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey George, thanks for sharing. I know how you feel about your pastor. When I started in the ministry I was a youth pastor. I dressed casually most Sundays. The first Sunday I wore a full suit, an older man came up to me and told me it was about time I started dressing respectfully. To him, the most important thing was how I dressed. I’m not sure where that mindset came from, but it’s definitely prevalent.

  • Tim Wohlford

    11. Lousy preaching / bad worship experience due to inattentiveness and incompetence.

    12. The insistence on endless committee meetings that accomplish nothing other than institutional functions (taking of notes, committee reports, etc) for its members.

    13. Misguided politeness — gosh we can’t possibly invite that new family to come with us to church, that might be impolite, etc

    14. Softpedaling / hiding of core doctrines. This one is strange ’cause most people believe that such fuzzy presentations are ways to attract new members, but if you never share your beliefs, how can you “reach people?”

    15. Confusion of religion and politics. Only about 1/4 of the population are social liberals, aka “progressives.” IF that is what is front and center in your church, you will certainly alienate 3/4 of the people. Does “diversity” in your congregation include political diversity?

    • joshdaffern

      Good points!

    • Charlotte

      Totally agree with these. Particularly the first point. My husband knew a little about how to operate the sound desk at our church and shared responsibility in manning it during every other service (meaning he couldn’t sit with me or his children while serving). He became increasingly distracted because nobody else really cared at all about whether the preacher could be heard or the worship and words were coordinated. So in the end he got pulled into doing it all the time, which meant we never got to worship together or sit together. We both gladly gave our time but it was exhausting that no-one else really cared about serving. Others occasionally went through the motions of sitting in the right place for a while and sometimes didn’t show up at all…

  • Entertainment –Churches spend thousands (sometimes millions) of $ on things to entertain their congreations/church members. Sports facilities (nothing wrong with sports just don’t think we need a press box) bigger, louder, more flashy stage productions …I love all of that stuff, but not at the expense of just loving people…helping them find their place in a class, helping them connect with others in their same life stage, and doing things for and with the neighbors right across the street (besides a “fall carnival” and Christmas pageant and an Easter egg hunt)

    • joshdaffern

      Yes! I’ve seen this too many times. People fall in love with the programs more than the people. And each year they feel like the programs have to be bigger and better. You’re right on when you say that what people truly crave is community much more than entertainment.

      • Terri Feezor

        I have always wanted to attend church, I’m a christian without a church. I long for the embrace of a church but end up more lonely than if I had just not gone. What turns me away every time is the refusal to accept that not everyone sees or hears the same message. The Bible is a living document and God speaks through its pages. Not every message is the same and I have yet to find a church that respects that.

        • joshdaffern

          Hey Terri, so sorry to hear that you’re a Christian without a church. I pray that God will lead you to a loving, embracing, healthy community of believers, not just because of how what they can offer you, but what you can offer them.

        • Tammy

          Hi Terri, I am like you. I am a Christian without a church. I have been forced out of many a church due to mainly my son being autistic and being “not quiet and respectful.” I tried, but when your told don’t ask for help even getting him out of the men’s room or someone to sit with him so you can receive prayer, you kind of get the point and say what’s the point. Now, when I even think about taking him to church I have a panic attack. We worship at home, I have a lot of videos of worship and preaching so we can still worship. I do miss the fellowship, but that is just the way it is. I am so glad God taught me how to grow outside of the church fellowship. I am so glad He is always with us and we experience an explosion of His presence daily. I pray one day I will be able to go and try again, but not quite there yet. Crazy thing though, more lost people want to talk to me now more than they did when I was in church. I know things might have changed for you since it is now June, I pray it has. PS: Don’t feel sorry for me, I find daily He is more than enough.

    • Bill Hamp10n

      AMEN !!!

    • Bill Hamp10n

      So true .

  • Anne

    Transparency (If we would take off our masks of everything is perfect in our lives and get real about the troubled times we have gone through & let them know without Christ we would possibly not survived, I bet more and more people would come to know Him. I know I’ve been there.)

    • joshdaffern

      So true Anne! For some reason we’ve fallen into this trap where we feel like we need to present the best version of ourselves at church, the version that doesn’t need grace or forgiveness. If we embrace transparency, all it does is highlight God’s incredible grace in our lives.

  • Liz

    Realising what you state is so accurate and that for a long time it has frustrated me! I am part of a ‘para – organisation’ that most ministers would probably shut down if they could I think. Some ladies from the same congregation as myself were also involved and as I was asked to preside over the local group I felt the Holy Spirit move away from the conventional format to ‘fishing on the other side’. Long story…but due to changes there were ladies who said they could no longer support the ‘outreach’. However as I held on to God through some very tough and lonely times and the encouragement of the organisations ‘hierarchy’ there is an Outreach in my town, albeit only small -with about a dozen totally ‘un-churched’ ladies who enjoy a monthly coffee morning where they do a craft whilst their children play…and I give an encouraging ‘Word’ from the Bible , usually associating it with the craft just being made. The previous meetings were just replicas of a ‘church service’ and hardly any ‘unchurched’ ladies attended. Now those that do go to church are totally out-numbered by those that don’t go to church. The work will not be in vain and I look forward to the day that these ladies accept Jesus into their lives.

    • joshdaffern

      Thank you for sharing Elizabeth. I’m so thankful that you followed the Holy Spirit’s leading and are reaching unchurched ladies. I’ll pray with you that they one day soon accept Jesus into their lives.

  • Why the Great commission is still an unfinished task?

    1. Lack of Disciples. [We have any church goers and believers]

    2.Lack of Passion to reach the Lost.[Church lost the priority]

    3.Lack of Commitment.[ We easily give up]

    4. Lack of Resources [No money for missions]

  • Rev.Dr Teddy Ray Price

    The Bible speaks of the pastor as having authority over the Church, he pastors, as given by God, But in most Churches, today, the pastor has been lowered to the position of not much more than a flunky, a hireling, controlled by the family, who runs those Churches . According to the Bible Acts 20:28,1Thes5:12,Phil 1:1,1Tim3:1,Tit1:7, teach the pastor(elder or bishop, same office) has authority over these assemblies, and that the members should submit to that authority, not as to a mere man, BUT AS UNTO THE LORD AND CHIEF SHEPHERD OF THE CHURCH JESUS CHRIST WHO IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. New Testament Churches are not to be led by men who are not God called, ordained and fully qualified to do the work of a called out pastor . Heb13:17, tells us, “obey them that have rule over you and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, AS THEY THAT MUST GIVE ACCOUNT, THAT THEY MAY DO IT WITH JOY, AND NOT GRIEF, FOR THAT IS UNPROFITABLE FOR YOU “. Pastoral authority is God Given, and those who resist a God Called Pastor in his work of leading the Church, according to the WORD OF GOD, WILL ANSWER TO JESUS CHRIST FOR THEIR STUBBORNNESS!!!! The Spirit filled God Called Pastor should be respected and allowed to lead the Church . Thus saith the Lord God !!!

    • Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,…Matthew 20:25-26 Peter said, “Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” 1 Peter 5:3

      • George Hoerman

        Great wisdom there Tammy.

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  • Bill Hamp10n

    # 11 Churches that determine that they have the authority to judge. That’s His job.

    #12 Praechers that love to “hear themselves talk”….BORING. Rules of speaking,

    A.) 1. Tell them what you’re going to preach on. 2. Preach it. 3. Tell them what you preached.

    B.) Alter Call

    C.) Then, don’t start another sermon.

    More and more people are getting disenchanted with preachers that preach more than 30 minutes. As Bob Jones II once said ( and I’m certain he said it many times) “any preacher who preaches more than 20 minutes, just like to hear themslelves talk.” AMEN !!!

    • Bill Hamp10n

      oops….spell check 🙁 it’s preacher and Altar 🙂

    • Rev.Dr Teddy Ray Price

      Funny thing!!! I’ve never been able to tell God it’s time to stop now God some if the folks want me to shut up !!! They think you ought to get it done on their time table!! Gee, wonder why they even come anyway.!!!! SCRIPTURE SAYS “AND THEY LIMITED THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL

  • Found your article because a Facebook friend ‘shared’ it. While I would agree that all of the issues you mentioned are problems in the church, I think the #1 thing most “Christians” place before reaching people is THEMSELVES. Most Christians don’t care about the waitresses soul…especially if she’s not giving us good service. We don’t care about the soul of our neighbor…especially if they have a barking dog or screaming kids that bother us. We don’t care have a burden for the soul of the co-worker who gets on OUR nerves. Can music, buildings, traditions…etc get in the way of reaching people? Of course. But until “Christians” get over themselves and start having a burden for people, we will not reach people for Christ. [PS- I know that ‘self’ is behind most of what you listed, but I’ve learned…if you don’t spell it out for some, they absolutely will not get it. 🙂 ]

    • joshdaffern

      Kyle I think you’re right on. ‘Self’ is the main culprit behind most of these. Keep fighting the fight!

  • Bob Williford

    Most of us are unwilling to take a chance and ‘get out of the boat’……..and simply follow Jesus. I understand that this may be over simplifying the issue, but when Peter got out of the boat he was able to walk on the water because he was willing just for a moment.

  • The unwillingness to learn from other ethnic groups who are using their facilities, when those same ethnic groups are the ones living right around the churches neighborhood.

    • joshdaffern

      I completely agree Tracy. My father served in a church with multi-ethnic congregations and there was much they could have learned from their immediate neighbors.

  • Time. Modern church services are on a strenuous schedule. Fellowship and disciple building has fallen by the wayside. The neighborhood church where everyone knows everyone is being replaced by mega churches where people are happy to remain anonymous. For a strong church we need Christian fellowship daily. If in a mega church setting, learn at least 11 other members and know them outside Sunday morning worship.

    • joshdaffern

      I agree David. The urbanization of life and the death of community have definitely hasten the decline of many churches.

  • Rev.Dr Teddy Ray Price

    I sent a comment pertaining to things wrong within the Church

    But you have chosen to delete it . My comments were very much Biblical,based on the way God has ordained it to be, not what you or any man chooses to make it be . A church that submits to the God ordained authority of the pastor is a healthy Church and will show it . A Church that does not, will flounder and soon go by the wayside . Thank you .Rev Dr Teddy Ray Price Ba,Ba, Ma, DD.

    • John Christie

      mr price: i don’t think any of us is impressed with your four degrees. why do you have to mention them at all? that’s not a humble spirit.

  • William

    My company moved me around a lot and we attended several different churches. We had been going to one in Southern California, I noticed that most but not all wore suits or a sport coat. I wasn’t used to the Summer heat and wore a nice polo shirt and slacks. After about a month my wife and I were met at the door by three deacons. I was told that in their church we “dressed up to come to church” I had been in the process of downsizing a department in my company and had a bad week. My wife didn’t say anything and looked at me. I looked the fellow in the eyes for about fifteen seconds and without saying anything reached down and dusted my shoes off and my wife and I left. The church is the people, not a suit or building.

    • joshdaffern

      William, I hate that you had to experience that. I grew up in California and had deacons turn friends away in high school because they didn’t dress a certain way. Unfortunately, your experience is all too familiar. I hope you and your wife have been able to find a good community of believers to plug into.

    • jane yarbrough

      I agree but that is not what is important. Reaching out and following up with visitors. And leading people to christ

  • Amen, brother!

    • joshdaffern

      Thanks Melinda!

  • Jennifer Page

    Not being a place where those with disabilities can easily be involved. As a person with a disability, and someone who was very involved in ministry before my illness took away my ability to walk, i find it frustrating to be pushed to the sidelines in church. I would love to teach the children,but the kids ministries are on the upper levels of a building with no elevator. There is really not much for a person with a disability to be involved in at my church and it frustrates me so much. It is so hard to feel like an outsider in a place where i used to be involved, jist because now I am unable to fully use my legs.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Jennifer, thanks for sharing! I hear and understand your frustration with lack of access in many churches. One of the problems is that many church facilities have been around for decades, before handicap access was mandated (as it should be). For many churches it’s not financially or spacially feasible to add handicap access, which is a shame. I pray that you can find a community of believers where you can use the gifts and passions God has given you to their fullest extent.

  • Peter

    I’d say preaching and teaching over loving and leading by example. I’ve met and come across seminary graduates who taut their degrees but are unwilling to hit the streets to witness. Preaching is great but I’m learning that many suffer because some preachers want to speak to the masses and miss the one on one opportunities to minister.

    Great list though!!

    • joshdaffern

      Peter I would definitely agree. I went to seminary for years pursuing two degrees and saw many students that were more interested in books and theology than actually interacting with people. One of the things that helped me the most was that I worked at a church full-time while pursuing my degrees so that I never forgot why I was training.

  • Karole

    It had been a while since I went to church when I attended a service one Sunday. The choir had sung and the congregation (audience) applauded. I nearly fell off the pew! It was always my understanding that the entire service, including the choir, was to learn and to praise God. Applauding the choir (entertainment) was so vulgar in God’s house! I tried several other churches and the commercials for money, applause and name dropping were obscene. Most of the churches never knew that I was there, not even good morning or a nod of acknowledgement. I have a personal relationship with God and the churches did not seem to have a relationship Him at all.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Karole,

      Thanks so much for sharing. I hate that you had such a negative experience in church. I’m a born and raised church kid, and the applause after a ‘special’ or ‘solo’ has always bothered me too. You’re exactly right. We’re not here for our glory, but God’s honor. I also experienced too many churches where no one spoke to guests, people who were genuinely interested in becoming a part of the community. One of the reasons I became a pastor was to try and help shape a church culture that addressed so many of the negative experiences I’d had over the years. Today one of the biggest volunteer ministries we have at the church I help lead is the Host Team, 50 or so folks every week that man the parking lots, doors, and coffee carts. Our goal is that every person is greeted a half dozen times before they sit down to worship. We want every person to know that they matter.

      • Martha

        Josh, what a great idea…the Host Team. We have a Visitor’s Table to draw people to after the service, but making sure everyone is welcomed and greeted six times before even beginning to worship is awesome! I will put that to the test Sunday and count how many places we are greeted when entering to worship. BTW one of our pastors is always standing outside to greet folks as they enter.

        • joshdaffern

          Hey Martha, our Host Team is one of the greatest decisions we made, as it’s greatly increases our overall guest experience. As you can tell by many of the comments on this post, many people didn’t stay long enough to plug into community because of a bad experience. I wish you success in your endeavor!

    • Bill Hamp10n

      I appaud, and it’s for Him. lt ways amazed me, even as a kid, that no one would applaud a great performance from God’s talented choirs, vocalist, and yes, even a great sermon…..I think it’s part showing praise to the Lord. Why be prudish about how anyone should worship. Do you raise your hands? I do.

      • George Hoerman

        I also fail to see how it is wrong to show appreciation for someone sharing the talents God has given them and using it in his praise. Actually, I am kind of shocked that anyone would be against that. Using a God given talent for praising God is something that should be encouraged…and applauded! People often work hard to develop something (song, poem, whatever) that expresses praise to God. It often inspires others and helps them also praise. When something good like that happens, shouldn’t God’s people make a joyful noise!?!?

      • Susan

        I truly believe applause is okay based on the type of music, sermon, or even children receiving their 1st Grade Bibles. However there are times when a worshipful song is sung, no matter how beautifully performed, reverence and quite is necessary as to not break the spirit of quite worship.

    • I do clap sometimes but it’s meant to show that I am in agreement with and appreciate the praise being offered. Kind of like an Amen.

  • What killed our church was the neighborhood changed quickly, and after 27-break, in’s and thefts, one night during a Wed. evening service, 4-armed thugs invaded the service shot a man in his 60’s thru his right shoulder and robbed all 22 people attending the service of their wallets and jewlery. and even took a set of car keys from a couple and found their car somehow in the lot and took it. back then a 1968 Ford Galaxie which was one year old. Police found it 4-days later burned and stripped. after all this the Church which had been in that same spot since 1905 folded. Now Baptisim records and other paperwork have been lost forever and people became full of hate for the opposite race of human beings. I cannot find any answers to this issue. however it remains one of the worse and best memories I had as a child going there.

    • joshdaffern

      Wow Jim, thank you for sharing. What a intense experience you and your church had to walk through!

  • Martha

    Who are we meant to serve…people or God? It’s about serving the Lord, not trying to pull in more members by accommodating the needs for certain music or exclusion of certain people or how people dress. We need to remember what God asks of us.

  • Greg

    Military and government worship.

  • troy

    Ministry idolitry

  • LC

    I think one thing that was left off the list is the preacher. If he decides to do things his way then he starts gathering a group that like him and they start making changes. I have grown up with more church fights and splits than I care to remember and the majority had to do with the preacher and him wanting to do everything and be in control of every thing including the money. In my opinion it is not the music that should be on the list but the preacher.

    • joshdaffern

      Lydia I absolutely believe you’re onto something. Everything rises and falls on leadership (as John Maxwell famously put). If the preacher is a healthy leader, you’ll have a healthy church. If not (or if lay leadership is unhealthy), the church will eventually follow.

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  • Craig Dooley

    I think that when the church puts religion ahead of relationship we are in trouble. i.e. a certain format, tradition, etc. ahead of building a relationship with Christ.

  • ca

    I think sermon series are killing church for me. There doesn’t seem to be time to listen to what God wants when you’re too busy working out what the next series should be about.

  • Bruce

    Number 4 is very true. A few years ago I was working at a technology store. A man was talking to me about buying a projector for his church to replace the hymnals, since the price was so high. They would hook the projector to a laptop and show the hymns on the wall. During the conversation, a friend of his walked up with his son, and he explained the idea. Lo and behold, the friend told him his church had already done the same thing and saved a great deal of money. Incredibly, the teenage son spoke up and said he did not approve the idea. He plainly stated he nearly quit the church over this. I thought it was amazing the youngster did not embrace the new technology, and older crowd did.

    • joshdaffern

      You’re right Bruce, that is an amazing story! Honestly never heard something like that before.

  • Constance gravitt

    Churches mainly are catering to a specific group – mostly youth, which is great in moderation, but is this in hopes the future of the church will succeed? That isn’t the norm, youth normally moves on…What about others, including the elders which is the foundation of the church that feels forgotten and gets reprimanded for an/or observation or opinion. Pastors have a lot to learn from their congregation and need to listen instead of dictating their ideas and demands. Educating pastors in a seminar is great, but sometimes they need “real church 101”, and what’s really important.

    • George Hoerman

      I am very sorry to hear that the “norm” in your church is that the youth “move on”. We have a very different experience here. We have many younger people who have stuck around for quite a while and show no signs of going anywhere else. They bring a lot of energy, vibrancy, new ideas, new ways to reach out and spread the word, etc. It has brought in many new families. Our younger people are very involved in our church. I agree that it is often difficult to strike a good balance between the needs of young people and the needs of the older folks. What is “really important” to one group is often anathema to another group. I see it as a real challenge for the pastor and others in leadership roles.

  • Laurie

    I’m learning God’s heart is for the orphan, the fatherless, the widow and the oppressed. If our churches don’t pursue ways to care for them instead of simply caring about them, how can we as God’s children ask for his continued blessing on our church?

  • patricia

    Try dealing with clicks in the church. Most act goody goody while in the church building and yet outside of church they are hateful bullies

  • John

    These 10 are the fruit of poor Christian discipleship of the individual members and of the leadership.

    • joshdaffern

      Yes!

  • Chris McDaniel

    I would add to this list “Trying to ‘do church’ like another church”. Maybe we want to be like them and grow like them, i.e. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church. It reminds me of Israel crying for a king because having judges wasn’t like everyone elses kingdom. Problem being, It’s Jesus kingdom, his kingly command, the great comission. Got to get outside the walls. Love people outside the walls for a birth so they will come indoors to grow.

  • Hannah

    I think money needs to be on this list. I can’t tell you how many churches I have attended that had thousands of dollars saved up but were unwilling to spend any of it to reach out to the community. They would rather watch the church die than spend the money.

    • joshdaffern

      so true!

  • walt

    very good

  • Ronald Stitely

    All churches and religions answer a need. We all have spiritual and non-spiritual needs. We generally attend the church that meets those needs. Our love for God will not change because we choose to move to a different building, a different music platform, a different pastor, or a different agenda.

    I have attended five various churches in my lifetime and God was there. Churches grow and prosper because they meet people’s needs.

  • Donald R. Hardy

    The Baptist have not caught on to the fact that Israel is playing them as puppets. The Jews see the gentile as goy or animals and the Baptist have not caught on. Jesus broke up their money changers or bankers in the temple used for malpractice in loans to the people. Jesus broke up their skeem to abuse the people. The Jewish bankers had him hushed and replaced what he was saying that we are gods (John 10:34) to he Jesus was god. They the Jews are still doing it to this day.

    • Lauretta

      Be very careful how you write about or speak about God’s chosen people.

  • Me

    membership. Hierarchy. If you’re not a member you can’t participate in certain things, minister on the forefront or get married in a church that you’ve been at for years.

  • Kathy

    “Pretty over Purpose” When churches concentrate more on being “Relevant” and cutting-edge, it literally takes energy away from the One who never changes. It is SO important to meet people in a way/method/time … and there are appropriate ways to deliver the Message in a current format. But I am seeing more & more churches place popularity and the “latest-greatest” “whatever” ahead of the Gospel. Do you really need to spend so much time on how things LOOK that you lose the discernment of the Spirit? By the way, that light show/smoke effect/magic show was AWESOME…

  • Bill

    I believe Money should be number one on your list. Todays’ modern church spends more time trying to raise money than they do evangelizing. They take up “special offerings”, they have pledge programs, they have fund raisers and some even sell bonds to raise more money.

  • Joanne Dixon

    These are all true statements, too bad so many are true at so many churches

  • Jay Evans

    If you’re standing there pointing to specific examples of churches that are not doing what you think they should be doing, what are YOU doing? I’d say that the churches in question are full of people like you who sit back and point fingers while you’re not doing all you can to make it different. If you don’t like it, change it. It really is as simple as that. It is a sin to know to do right and then not to do it, especially because you want to blame it on all of the other churches or all of the other families or all of the other members. This article is not constructive. It’s easy to point out WHY there is a problem. It’s another thing entirely to offer solutions. This article is simply: J-U-D-G-E-M-E-N-T-A-L

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Jay, thanks for sharing your opinion. This blog was merely one segment of a sermon I preached last week (3.22.15) at my church. The entire sermon is on my blog. After I shared this list with my church, I shared what you shared. It does us no good to point our fingers at other churches. That is neither healthy or constructive. The only church I can change is the one I get to help lead. The goal of this blog post wasn’t to point fingers at other churches, but to help church members take an honest look at their own churches, to see if they’re doing all they can to reach people. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mary Odle

    I was raise Catholic and came to Christ when I was 28. Your article was great and lines up with what I believe and have lived since coming to Christ. I love people both young and old because they are our mission. I am now almost 67 years young. My husband and I live in a young community where all the churches are focused on reaching the young families. They will let you come and pay your tithes but you feel like you do not belong. Everything is geared for young families and you are not allowed to be a part. Basically you are a pew warmer. I am not a pew warmer. I have a lot of years left to serve the lover of my soul, Jesus. In most of the churches the pendulum has swung to far and now excludes the hoary heads from be an active part of the church so as not to offend the young families. There needs to be a balance and I have not seen it in any church up to this point. The churches in our area do not respect the senior citizens nor do they think we have anything to offer. I am not dead and I should not be treated by the church like I am.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story. I hate that you feel rejected by the churches in your area. I understand the pull by many churches to go for younger families. Our church does that as well. One of the things we’ve worked hard to try and maintain is a balance for all generations. Some of our greatest volunteers at Mt Vernon are our seniors. You’re right, seniors have a lot to offer, including tons of wisdom. Any church would be foolish to ignore that. I pray you and your husband can find a healthy faith community to plug into. Blessings!

  • Well said

  • Carli Zygowicz

    As Long as my theology does not change which is the theology of the Bible I’m okay with all the other trappings that anyone else would have. My doctrine of believing in Christ as my Savior must remain true to the Bible!

  • Jane

    This list is a dead on description of most mainstream churches today. Programs rule and our current pastor’s decreed annual schedule is inflexible…small group Bible study only in the winter and only the groups he announces! Heaven forbid one should be moved to organize a study group because the Spirit has led them to be hungry for meat in the Spring, Summer, or Fall.

    One thing I would add to your list is many leaders seem hung up on keeping the church financially healthy. In my own home church, our preacher insists on being called Pastor Jimmy Bob and he weaves tithing into every sermon, prayer and reminders of the “fabulous” building renovation & pledges must be paid.

    I don’t mean to sound critical but after nearly 5 years of praying to understand & love him, I still long for a pastor that teaches Scripture and shares how how it looks to live that way. On a positive note, it has pushed me to serve and reach the lost outside the box of my loved “organized” church. This includes really seeking out coworkers to forge a relationship then share Jesus with them, taking 3 mission trips to South America and looking at everyone I encounter with fresh eyes.

    May God have mercy on His church for we have met the enemy and the enemy is often us!

  • I read your comments with great interest and I agree with all of them. After reading them, the Lord impressed upon me that these were issues of who and what is the agent of change, the Church or the world. Let go through some of your points (not all). Location, one of your commenters commented on the fact that demographics of the community around their Church had changed for the worst, so much so that they left the community. When this Church saw the demographics changing did they act as the agent of change to change the community for the better or did the world act on the Church as the agent of change and drive them out?

    Buildings/Architecture, why would people come into a Church if it looks like it went through a storm? There is a place for the knick and scratch monitors, not to complain to the youth pastor rather to get people in to fix it as soon as possible. Maybe a gage of how much of an agent of change the Church is having in this case would be how many of the youth group coming back to make the repairs.

    Change is good, but who is changing who, our focus and worship of God, our doctrine, is the rock on which we stand and should not change, if these thing are change for the worst it doesn’t real matter how many people you bring in. Reaching people is good, and your points are good too, but if the Church is not the agent of change in these points what is the point.

    Re-examine each of these points, not from a good or bad view, but rather how can the Church act as the agent of change in each of these points. Point 7, I know someone who had the highest status known, but came onto the lowest of status to act as the ultimate Agent of Change, his name was Jesus.

    • Chris McDaniel

      Very well said. Become the servant of all like our Master, Jesus 🙂

  • Claudia

    We’ve always done it this way.

  • Many churches put money ahead of reaching people.

  • K.O.G. Inc

    I agree with the things on this list concerning the four-walled church and believers. Our focus has become to routine when we serve an out of the box God. At times we serve this out of the box God from a societal perspective. Connecting the culture to Christ from every aspect is the goal here at K.O.G. ( Kingdom of God), Inc. We believe that doing exactly what Christ did, which was diving into the culture not to mimic it however to change it from the inside out, is the mission and this article is refreshing because it speaks to that concept. KEEP WORKING!!!

  • The biggest problem that I see is no one it truly being discipled. To fulfill the Great Commission there must be well taught, well learned, willing servants of Christ, who are going in to a lost and dying world to reach as many as can be reached. But who is really teaching? I know I was never taught how or why to share my faith. I picked it up by watching a faithful few that didn’t have any real teacher but through the leading of the Holy Spirit they went and did. I watched them and I learned. I didn’t have a pastor or Sunday school teacher teach me because no one had ever taught them. Over time I learn just how important being a Christ like disciple (student) is. I wanted to be more and I as learned that it never happened inside 4 walls. It happened outside in the market place where people interacted. I learned this from hardcore bikers that had no fear of this world or what others thought of them. We weren’t accepted by the churches and we weren’t accepted by the outlaw bikers. We were left to find places to serve and we did. Over time it became to be cool to be a Christian biker and soon churches wanted there own biker groups. Wasn’t long before the Christian biker community became like the churches. Hidden away behind 4 walls, more about the show than the calling. No body wants to be the student, the doer, the learner. No body wants to do the hard work of real discipleship. Everybody wants to play the game but no one wants to read the rule book. Discipleship is the most important part of the Great Commission, “go and make disciples”, Who is going to be the one how truly does that? Who is going to take people b the hand and say to them, Come follow me as I follow Christ. If we never do this then the Great Commission is nothing more than a good suggestion, may be we’ll bring it up at the next planning meeting. Either we become disciples or we are failing the real question is which are we?

  • Trey

    I think the success of the church mentioned in #5 has more to do with the death penalty dealt to non believers than their lack of programs. Haha.

  • Tim Neal

    The “Church” is the entire body of Christ and we are told to go make disciples. However when we gather in our local Houses of Worship we call this “church” . To me there is a distinct difference. The first is to proclaim to a lost world the truth of fallen man and the Love and Forgivness of Jesus Christ. To in essence “Make Disciples”. The second “church” is a place where the Saints or Disciples gather together to Worship God and be equipped for the Ministry. My point is the Local Assemble isn’t necessarily for the Lost, it’s for those who already know Christ. (Don’t misunderstand, we will and should have the “Lost” among us and we should always be mindful of that) but it is not the main purpose of the Local Assembly to attract the Lost. If we want the Local Assembly to grow then there are many ways to accomplish that. But if we want the “Church” to grow then it will be the individual Saints like you and me that must go out and “Make Disciples”

    • Jane

      I agree. My church was once focused both on growing believers spiritually and ministering to the lost here, nationally and abroad. Most recent pastor focuses on being seeker friendly, technology and filming sermons to post on Vimeo. Have we added seeker members? Yes, all glory to God but we’ve lost a larger number of spiritually mature members who no longer found edification. We were a church who prayed together every week at the altar on our knees. But that time of prayer was also removed from our service rituals. We, the body of Christ, are limping all in the name of Doing Church.

  • L

    They also put bigotry above people. Westboro Baptist “Church” anyone?

  • DebiHIS

    fellowship: i see lot’s of cliques, groups of members hanging out with themselves socially, unwilling to open up to everyone. this leaves others isolated, feeling alone and they reach out to the world, and fall away.

    music: i see more of a concert theme, where the attention is focused on 4-6 people, with loud volume and flashy lights. yes this appeals to one generation, but what about the others?? the music is good, heartfelt, it’s just the presentation that needs tweaking. is it about ‘the band’ or about HIM?? maybe we should get rid of the stage all together?? all worship on the same level.

    control: i see only 1-2 families running everything, not allowing others in for fear of being put out.

    self importance: i see a lot of christian celebrities! put on airs, exalting themselves above the common ‘sheep’. i see lots of titles, staying covered up in bodyguards so they are unapproachable, demanding honorariums, special treatment when i don’t remember Jesus EVER doing that :/

    idols: i see pastors being hero-worshipped. yes they deserve respect and honor, but some members are too emotionally involved, that’s where offense gets in. they are just people, just like us.

    • DebiHIS

      discipline: i also see the church has swung from strict discipline, to let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings. so issues like pornography, adultery, abuse are being basically ignored until the situation explodes. then there is lots of collateral damage to clean up, hurting people, creating out of wedlock children. the ones who were caught are using grace like a get out of jail free card, as i don’t see a lot of repentance going on, as they are accepted with open arms on Sunday. from what i remember discipline of members is in the bible, especially for leadership. but ‘they may not like us’ or ‘they might leave….with their tithe’ so we just pray for them, leave them in their position, and wait for the fallout??

  • Charlotte

    I think some churches go to great lengths to get people there en masse, then can’t look after the new people. BIG churches need to have the resources to look after a growing congregation. There’s nothing worse than going to a big church and feeling as though you’re an invisible statistic. I’ve been in big churches where we shared the peace and long standing members have asked the other person “so are you new to this church?” To which the other replies “I’ve actually been coming here for over two years!” That’s pretty shocking! On the other hand I’ve been to churches where you’re one of 12 attendees and are looked at like an unwelcome splinter and grudgingly given a grapevine brochure (they don’t actually have enough to go around now you’ve turned up! How rude are you for disrupting their routine!) and have to listen to in jokes in which you can’t participate…

  • Virginia

    This confirmed so much for me. My family and I have been so injured by “churches” that I can’t even get my kids to go to one anymore. I want the fellowship but too many times in our past something that started out so great became very ugly when the rose-colored glasses came off. I don’t know what to believe or who to trust. My children don’t trust MY judgment. We’ve seen several churches divided by pride and evil spirits that they themselves are teaching about. It’s very sad. So many judge the ones who don’t have the knowledge but don’t realize that that’s why we’re there… to learn, to fellowship, to give of ourselves, to discover who we are in Christ, to learn to unite instead of divide. What happens when people can’t find that? They end up like us. Hermits who are afraid to trust anyone.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Virginia, thank you for sharing your experience. I hate so much that you and your family have had such bad experiences at churches. I will pray that God will direct you (in a way that only He can) to a loving community of believers. You and your family deserve that.

  • Kathy T

    My husband and I recently read Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Things to Keep Yours Alive by Rainer –he says about the same thing, just gives some background and real world stories as evidence for his comments. Your article relays the same message, we–the church–need to wake up!

    • joshdaffern

      Great book!

  • yolanda

    We as leaders need to trim our church family to work with ALL people. Accept them as they are, we too were once lost souls. We need to share God’s love, for he gave his only son. Are we ready for the challenge. “Go preach to ALL nations…. “

  • Daryl

    The only church the Holy Spirit boasts about in scripture was the Acts 2 church. They were devoted to teaching, prayer, fellowship and the breaking of bread and by this they gained favor from their neighbors by their witness. And God added to the church. Devotion is the key to a great commission church. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

  • Chris

    I’m with you until number 10. The Church is about religion. If the church twists or ignores Jesus’ teachings it is no longer Christian (follower of Christ). I cant make someone feel good about their sins just to reach them. I know here comes the not judging but the bible actually says to take 2 others and confront a fellow believer if the have sinned. I will have absolutely no problem being judged by the same standard I have used.

  • Rene

    Grace…too many churches don’t remember how to apply grace to their congregation or their neighbors.

  • DavidR

    I’ll tell you, it is tough. I’ve advocated for change in our church. Small changes some, one big one. The big one was activity being done by the state convention that I believe to be unbiblical. Long story short, I proposed that we not send money to the state convention until these actions were resolved. Well, we still send money. And now, I’m kinda tired of being a nail sticking up. I have a hard time bring things up now. We are so used to “how things have always been done” that we lose sight of biblical truths.

  • LaDon Findley

    No. 1 – Definitely should have been church politics!

  • elizabeth

    You must dress a certain way, some denominations still believe this way, The church members judge you by the way you dress. If a prostitute, homeless, or addict, walked in off the street how would they be welcomed. they are condemned for what they are and the way they dress.

    • Rica

      I just saw your post after I had just posted about how my grandparents were condemned for how they dressed. Thank-you for your post.

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  • Rica

    This is going to sound strange and it probably fits into one of the categories listed, but my grandparents stopped going because they were asked, “Don’t you have anything nicer to wear to church?” They were farmers wearing their best, but got a bad taste for church because someone condemned their clothes.

  • Lynne Hyndman

    Some very good and challenging points. I was wondering where you got the photo. It was eerily familiar…….

    • joshdaffern

      The photo was a random Google search. I do not know (nor do not want to know) the particular church in the photo, because I don’t want to single them out in any way.

  • wyssinc

    Nearly three years ago our church split that we were attending. Because my husband and I and our children all had friends on both sides of the split, we decided to try and find a new place to worship. I prayed and asked God to direct us to a new church. We tried several different churches but didn’t feel we belonged. After a year or so of this I begin praying like this… God I know you want my family and I in church I will take it as a sign, the next person that invites us to their church will be where we go and where we stay.

    A year and a half later we still had no church. We did not get one invitation by a person to visit their church in all of that time 🙁 Where are we church ?Where are our hearts? Why aren’t we reaching out? There are families just like mine everywhere. Individuals lost and crying, looking for hope. Where are we church? Now more than ever in this crazy mixed up world, people need a Savior! Let’s go LOVE and invite and embrace! Let’s get out of our comfort zone and make a difference!

    • joshdaffern

      I’m so sorry to hear that! I pray that someone will invite you this week to Easter services! If you were anywhere close to Columbus MS I’d invite you to Mt Vernon!

  • Sandra Pierce

    The trend of Pastors using formatted sermons, a series on a particular subject matter, that runs for several weeks is watering down The Word. So many antidotes and far reaching examples trying to tie it altogether. Let’s fill that hour with God’s Word, undiluted, and with Praises and Thanksgiving!!! Let’s have ONE service for the Whole church with no time limit, led by The Holy Spirit. Let’s be revived and filled so that we can’t stop ourselves from sharing the joy we have in Christ Jesus for the rest of the week!! Amen

  • opal

    As a child and young adult I felt a part of the church. I floated away from it until recently when I came to the realization I needed to go back and find something missing in my life.

    Before the Minister every spoke to me about who was or why I was attending there church, I received a letter asking for money!!! I am now on their mailing list receiving all their notification for funds but no one has ever asked why I never go back.

  • Gladys L. P. Corcoran

    Pastor Jake, the 10 things is a great factor in our churches, winning lost soul should be our main goal , we should be prayed up ready for the sermon, apply it to our lives, and let our light shine to dark and dreary world not only on Sunday but seven days a week,the 10 things you listed are going on in our churches,the church is God;s not man;s, and we should let him lead us in all we do, I know the young generation are looking for more social services than us older generation, I wonder if God is pleased with us as he should be, for he is the same yesterday to day, and for ever, it’s like the old song if it’s good enough for my fathers, it is good enough for me,.I know we can;t go back we must go forwards, but let Jesus have his way it may be old fashion but if it’s saving souls and drawing the lost , and people to our churches , God will be pleased for he wants ever body to accept his son, and nobody going to hell.

  • money –some churs ake you to give so much mony are you are not part of the chuech an they let every one know i dot have much mone to give an so i stop going

  • jane yarbrough

    Money. And who gives that money is too important to churches

  • A great book that addresses this is “Who Stole My Church?” by Gordon McDonald. Good article.

    • joshdaffern

      Yes! Great book!

  • 11. “Busywork.” Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against some people doing things month after month, year after year that helps other people. I will never insist that the same 3 or 4 seniors who get together every month to send “care packages” to our deployed troops cease and desist. And I will never thwart the efforts of 3 or 4 dedicated women who meet weekly to make quilts for impoverished Native Americans. But neither will I encourage them. I’d much rather see them putting their time and effort into something that 1) the entire congregation supports (a unified vision for mission), 2) helps people right here in our community, and 3) speaks loudly and clearly of the love of Jesus Christ.

  • cherie

    Many churches do not readily welcome new people. Members will look at you; but no one will talk to you. It is obvious that those churches are not friendly and do not want to grow.

    • joshdaffern

      I hate that this is a reality in too many churches, but you’re absolutely correct!

    • Laurie

      So true. Our family recently relocated to a new state and have been attending a new (to us) church for over 2 months. Besides the Pastor I know only one persons name and she is a good 25+ years older than me. My husband did arrange to take the Pastor out for dinner and he also attended a mens breakfast and talked with one older gentleman. I’m hoping that once we get settled into a church I can be more aware of visitors and help them to feel that they are welcome and wanted, not only to attend service but actually become an active participant.

  • 11. Apathy 12. the mentality, “somebody else will do it.” 13. “We’ve always done it this way.” 14. They hear the idea, they like the idea, then walk away and do nothing. 15. Or, put money in their hands, and they waste it on a down payment on an airplane hanger… 16. them an idea that is a proven successful trait, and they don’t like it and it disappears. 17. give them a solid, proven idea… and they want to change it and make it theirs.

  • SegarsLarry

    I think churches are more concerned with their status within the convention if it is a

    SBC church or within the independent circles. Building a reputation with these.

  • Lawrence Lakey W

    What about money money money MONEY

  • Allen Wood

    We can pamper the Phrasees or we can reach people. We can’t do both. Jesus didn’t do it, neither should we.

  • Jeff

    Ideology.

  • Politics. Our faith should inform every aspect of our lives, including our politics, but too many of our church leaders have let politics inform their religion. The world will know we have been loved by God by how we in turn love others, not how we vote.

    • jim

      amen

  • Bernarr V Tucker

    I would like to add; Communication Cooperation Commitment if not Confusion

  • Neal Jones

    The church paints a broad stroke. Many churches are working hard to follow Christ and his calling. I also remember that the early churches struggled to obediently follow. It is part of our frailty as humans to at times fall short. God is gracious and forgives our shortcomings as we ask for his forgiveness.

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  • Joyce

    Why don’t I go to church? First of all, I can’t sing; and after hearing others being criticized because they “can’t carry a turn” or someone insisting that a certain person shouldn’t be in a choir for that very reason has made me more than a little uncomfortable when the congregation stands to sing and I just stand there, not opening my mouth. Secondly, instead of simply inviting me to church, why not offer to help the elderly, the sick, or the needy, not just with money, but time–offer to sit with a person who can’t be alone for a few hours a week to give a caregiver a break or by offering to bring them dinner once or twice a week. Don’t just do this for “your” congregation, but find out who in the community needs help. My husband and I could have used this while caring for elderly parents full-time. I found that neighbors who didn’t attend church were more willing to help than those who spent most of their time at church, having church dinners or picnics, working on church buildings, or the Christmas play.

  • Steve

    The early church are dead and we are alive. Let’s not lose sight of this.

    God has placed you and I and yet to be saved believers to be His children at this time and not our blessed forefathers of the faith.

    There’s no Moses, no David, no Isaiah here. Just Jesus (Heb 1:1) alive througb His Spirit in the hearts of believers in His Church. Let us draw near to Him with absolute confidence to ask for an almighty blessing to be poured out on our generation and let’s trust in the Head of the Church to be the eyes, voice and the mind of its leaders and to forgive ourselves for any failed attempts seeking to represent His Church through our efforts.

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  • Brenda Bell

    When we open the doors to church,Do we feel the presence of our Lord ? If we do not,something is definitely wrong. The answer could be any one of the above. However, the answer could also be found within our own hearts. Each one of us should be open to our own soul searching before we look for a problem with the church.

  • Carol Smith

    I’ve just read Melissa Parson’s book Rubble to Resurrection, and highly recommend it. It follows what has become of the churches (the believers) of Christchurch NZ in the wake of several devastating earthquakes and aftershocks since Septembef 2010. Much of the revered architecture is gone; some neighbourhoods are no more. Yet believers, who comprise a mere 7% of the population of a city of 360000, have rallied together across denominational lines to love worship work and serve God and there neighbours.

    What might it take for us to keep the main thing the main thing – Christ, and Him crucified?

    • joshdaffern

      Sounds like a great book!

  • Nancy

    My late husband and I used to call these rules. People who practice Churchanity.

  • clockwork

    My mom took me to church every Sunday/ Sunday night and Wednesdays for a caravan group then eventually teen group.. I never felt I really fit..but I never really cared that I didn’t, I just enjoyed going.

    Then I grew up.

    For a while took my own children until I realized that I could walk into the church I was raised in every Sunday for months and be outright ignored. I could literally blend in with the wall. I knew these people my entire life but still felt like a stranger. Why worship with people who care nothing about showing the love of God? Christian love it seems is only reserved for the church cliques.

    I haven’t been to church in years now. My kids don’t go either because if Christianity is what I experienced, they can keep it.

    I found my own way. I found my own God.

    • joshdaffern

      I’m so sorry you experienced this! I wish it was an isolated case, but I know of too many people that have experienced similar heartache. I pray that you would truly find a loving, healthy, embracing biblical community. I know that there are a bunch of bad ones out there, but there are also some great ones, and those make it all worth it. Praying for you!

  • Jim Bennett

    Unfortunately, there is much truth in the posting; while some individuals attend for each item on the list, many attend church out of devotion to their God and Savior. For that fact I am truly thankful.

  • Shay

    How about denominational politics?

  • Mark

    When new people come into a church it’s very uncomfortable for them.. The first thing is all the seats are reserved. People should be open to sitting in a different seat every week. I have been told those are our seats. It’s not about butts in the seats it about making an appearance.. Jesus would give his seat to anyone that needed a seat.. Jesus would stand in the back wall if it brought another soul to accept his love

  • Richard Kociela

    My experience with the Catholic Church is quite different. If the masses were still in Latin, there would not be any today. The world we live in would have passed it by. The opportunity for all to learn is there, like everything else. But we listen to those who, are the loudest, and preach that they have the answer.

  • Wow, please take a moment to read this. It personally made me sit back and think.

  • jim

    politics and nationalism. it always concerns me when i hear songs of worship to a nation being sung in church. Jesus did not establish Rome, the US is not the promised land. God’s kingdom is not of this earth. You can’t serve two masters.

    money and greed. The church budget and personal wealth often seem like they are more important than what is being done to help people, all needs don’t need money to meet them.

    • joshdaffern

      So true on both accounts!

  • Karen

    Without question, the numbers. Measuring success by how many people you can get into the seats versus how many authentic, bible-based, spiritually sound believers result from your teaching and guidance. Keep it simple and rightly-focused; preach Jesus.

  • Korcoran Smith

    I would add other gods to this list. There are many thing we fall in love with, money, status, positions that we are so in love with, that we put them ahead of our relationship with God.

  • Dayna

    Condemnation of fallen Christians- We always strive to be like Christ, but we are human. Jesus knew we would make mistakes, fall into sin, even turn away from Him. He loves us anyway. Too bad the church doesn’t follow His example. As long as you’re a member, in their perfect bubble, working and serving, they’re your loving friends. But the minute you struggle and fall, they disappear. They judge and condemn and exclude you from their social circle. That’s not a real relationship, and it’s certainly not love. If we have more real, lasting and loving relationships outside of the church, there’s something wrong. Jesus said he would leave the 99 sheep to go find the one and wouldn’t give up. That one who is lost and lonely and struggling needs those relationships more than ever. I know, I was that one.

  • Jack Moffatt

    Yes, we know it but are not serious about changing to move forward. We are studying a book called, “Renovate or Die”. It says much of the same things.

  • Thank you! I couldn’t have said it better.

  • David

    How about a list of 10,000 things people will put before church?

  • Lynn Joyes

    At our small village church we seem to have our regular church goers but as a community we also reach out to all who wish to be at the chapel in there own way by being there for others when we all need some peace and solace to be with our Lord. That we are very grateful for. Where it be to pray our have our own thoughts with whoever they wish to be with. God bless our Chapel we love it and worship it and in it.

    • B.Scruggs

      Regrettabily, I have been saddened by the fix it people who seem so disgusted by what the church is, or what it is not. Wish all would come to Hayward, Ca. But until then, Philippians 1:15-18 could help all of us inwardly, until Jesus Christ answers our requests. He still has all power. It is His church, no matter what, and he will see us through.

  • Churches put programs and events before people. They spend loads of money bringing speakers from all over the world to give the impression that the programs are about outreach, but they often spend little time truly reaching new people. So the same church people come to the programs and in the end very few new souls are won. Activity vs. Productivety.

  • Mike

    I have been member at several churches since I have moved around the country and one constant factor is that just a few families control the church. Others who have controlled the churches are those who are dissatisfied with their jobs. It seems like if they have not made the professional strides they believe they should have, they transfer that in a way to the church. They see increased influence and having high positions within the church as a replacement for the high positions they believe they should have attained in their professional lives. They use their professional life political skills to get to the high positions within the church. Church should not be a replacement for job dissatisfaction. Have others seen this?

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  • I agree and noticed Im guilty of part of them myself. Another thing I would add is politics. I have not seen a Christ following politician. When I say that I mean they would be like Christ….when they wanted Him to be earthly King, He escaped. Why? Because He would not support sin, and it wasnt His time to bind the devil and sin and reign 1000 yrs. In each politicians city and state they are in charge of sinful acts allowed in that area. I’m sure God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would not vote for any. Our flesh can like a polotician, but as the church….body of Christ, we shouldnt put it in church. Each one is involved for themselves before Christ…if Christ was first abortion would be murder, if a judge, cop, military man, or homeless person did something wrong they would be equally punished, magistrates could refuse to marry homosexuals because of them feeling they would be sinning. if an armed officer or officers killed an un armed man when they have pepper spray, a tazer, a slap stick, a bullet proof vest, a group of officers etc…. they should be considered murdering, just like troops killing innocent people having nothing to do with political wars. No wordly government since Saul was first annoited has followed God whole heartedly.

  • You are so right. Unfortunately you’ve just described the majority of churches. Even those who think they’re the exception are victim to too many of these ten items.

  • Marilyn Lyons

    Agree 100%. I would include ” politics ” on this list. Religion should give us comfort, guidance…clergy should keep their personal politics to themselves. Don’t confuse the pulpit with a soapbox. Be welcoming to all people…

  • Mr.Alberto

    Interesting article, thank you for posting. Can you also do one for “10 positive things the church does in a community”.

    I absolutely agree on all points specially on ‘Tradition’ however; for someone ‘weak’ in faith this article does more damage than good. Either way, great points to discuss with the Church decision makers.

    Stay Blessed!

  • Ben Phipps

    Another thing we put ahead of reaching people; we put the messenger ahead of the message. Pulpit dynamics are more important than scriptural context.

  • Susan

    Read the book by Francine Rivers, “And the Shofar Blew”. It is truly about the pitfalls of today’s church trying to be everything to everybody. Just concerned are we trying to please man or God. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:12

  • fred d

    I like this ben and the thing that gets me most is missionary trips to other countries and , people bragging about what they did when their not willing to give someone a come cause their to busy buying for themselves and never witness any on a personal bases…

  • I agree with #4 So many people are set in their ways that their priorities get mixed up we need to go and reach people anyway we can as long as Jesus lived, ministered, died and rose again is not compromised we are in a changing world and we have to look around us to see new ways and new methods to reach the lost.

  • Cassandra Wright

    Being too “cool.” In an attempt to make church “more attractive to young people,” churches vie for the best worship team, the best light show, the best youth group and even the best coffee. In the process, we have thrown out our history and culture, as well as trivializing the sanctuary. Also, we basically tell the older people we don’t want them anymore, can’t be bothered with them, and that they are irrelevant – then tell them that if they don’t like it, they can just leave.

  • Chris

    I think the greater problem is that we have equated reaching people with the Gospel (and getting them to buy into it) with getting them to come to the building that is set aside for religious purposes. Compelling them to come in isn’t referencing a man made structure (building or organization). Compelling them to come in is a reference to the Kingdom. Living in the Kingdom with the Kingdom within is to live in such a way that allows the will of God to influence the heart which results in a lifestyle of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. All 8 of these points has little to nothing to do with the Kingdom.

  • susan crumrine

    My pastor refused to baptise me because I live with my fiance.

    It really broke my heart!

  • Michael Ross

    We would like to reprint your list of 10 in our church Newsletter, giving credit to you. Will you authorize that?

    Faith Lutheran Church, Everett, WA

    • joshdaffern

      Sure absolutely. Any way that I can be of help, please let me know!

  • James

    Dress in modest apparel, not like the world, but you wont hear a sermon on it cause it might offend someone. And the other grip I have is they say we love you, (as long as you are going to their church), but you leave and there is no reaching out to the people they say they love!

  • Josiah McMullin

    I think a lot churches put a lot of things ahead of reaching people. For instance becoming big at the expense of having depth, and putting missions and not the preparation and teaching of lrssons. It’s weird when you bring a new person to the church and instead of learning about God they get a lesson that tells them going to Mexico and building houses and taking pictures with their free tee shirt will make them a good christian. Or when you bring a new Christian to a church and they spend the entire sermon talking about how much money they have raised, and not giving God the credit or hardly even praising him at all.

    • joshdaffern

      True! Many people wouldn’t think that, but even ‘missions’ (the way we promote and idolize it) can be put in front of reaching people, especially those in our own community. Good word!

  • Cheryl V. Rodgers

    I visited a small local church this Sunday. We were welcomed as soon as we got out of the car. I would guess the attendance was about 35 people. Many empty seats. My first thoughts were about the Christians who were being persecuted and beheaded for their faith in Jesus and how blessed I was to be born in America and was able to attend this little congregation. The pastors sermon was from his heart and emphasized our need for a savior, all things fulfilled in Jesus. The good news of Gods Grace. My attitude was receptive and I went to worship and thank Jesus for what he has done and continues to do for all of us. So I think it has a lot to do with an individuals attitude. If we let our light shine, those in darkness will see it and be led out. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share.

    • joshdaffern

      I think you’re right on Cheryl. Attitude makes such a difference! Glad you had a great experience!

  • Curt

    1st Thing people do is that they become so Churchy they put everything else before Jesus Christ and God, they run the Church and lead instead of letting Christ Lead, Our Savior should and must be first in ALL things

  • rlizabeth

    Posting this for the general public, instead of doing things in there proper order: having conversations with pastors, who over see “the church” comes across as hate speech or more trash talk for the general public to throw at Christians. If you don’t have standing enough to speak to the right people, who actually care about the church, then why should you post this for the general public? There are plenty of people who take the honor of calling themselves Christians, but they don’t follow Jesus or care about people. I wouldn’t lump every religious person together and call them “the church.”. There has to be proof of a genuine people before you label them as such, and then talk about them. Is their no respect of God in you IR for his kids or care for the souls that will read this article and think this is what genuine Christians are like?

  • buck

    Ok, so I understand the purpose of this article, but I feel that the tone isn’t edifying. Even rebukes should encourage bc repentance is joyous. As a former church planter, and youth minister, it was easy to see all the flaws in the church, but the church I’d still the bride of Christ as blemished as she is. Let’s lift up His bride. Encourage her unto repentance. My wife does things I disagree with sometimes. Yesterday she tried to pop a white head on the base of my nose. It hurt so bad my eyes watered and I was ticked. At that time I didn’t point out her flaws, but her method of trying to help my blemishes wasn’t welcome either. The people that are concerned about their buildings believe it is good stewardship, and it is some what, but I would challenge if having a church full of roudy teenagers was truly the most effective way of making disciples anyway????? Evangelism and discipleship are not the same, and Jesus concentrated on a small group himself………..I don’t really know, but the truth is I just came out of a similar place saying the same things, and what put me there was that I was spending too much time looking @ others instead of looking @ Christ.

  • susan

    cliques

    • joshdaffern

      agreed!

  • Ruthi

    I am so blessed to be attending CBC Community Bible Church, San Antonio TX. We are not tied to any of these 10 things. We are here to Reach, Teach, and Help in Jesus name. This is our 25th year of living our motto. We are starting churches all over the world. Yes, we get dirty for Jesus.

  • John Howell

    Further to my comments a few minutes ago I wish to add the following:

    I refer to The I’m Right Syndrome” where people fear questioning Biblical issues thinking they will be slapped down. I was considering writing a book called “Dare to question” as in years gone by this has caused heartache amongst church members.

    Furthermore, I support people struggling with alcohol; often lovely caring people who should they take just one glass of wine they will go into what I call ” Devastation mode” for several days severely affecting family too. It’s an awful situation. Sadly it’s sometimes hard to find a church where a glass of wine will not be available at church functions. A terrible temptation for such people who wish to visit a church. The latest here in Witney, UK was a prominent church filling it’s building with beer barrels for the town’s beer festival. The minister’s twitter profile shows him holding a glass of beer. One may say ” nothing wrong with that” but I say “A potentially massive stumbling block” to lovely people who struggle. Someone I support with alcohol temptations was invited to a local evangelical church’s informal midweek meeting known for its solid biblical teaching and wine was on offer. Sadly many churches fail to see the danger and view such as having moved on into the 21st C .

    Kind regards

    John Howell

    Former pastor/ Travelling speaker

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  • Don

    I don’t know if this is on the topic, but I noticed that one of the top comments mentioned ignoring sins to reach people, and people are commenting on that. That should not be part of this discussion. Jesus said our job is to ‘Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ In other words, we are to love and accept all human beings, and leave judgment to God.

    It really bothers me that it has become a political issue to judge everyone as acceptable or not. A friend of mine posted a meme on his Facebook that said something to the effect of ‘Why is it acceptable for other groups to be proud of who they are but when Christians are proud of who we are, we are criticized for it?’ My response was to say that ‘I think that everyone should be proud of who they are, as long as it doesn’t hurt others.’ To my surprise, he was offended, because apparently, I didn’t know that being a proud Christian means judging others as being acceptable to God. I don’t agree. We are told that we are all made in God’s image, that we are all equal in God’s eyes.

    Until people can stop judging, all churches may be doomed, in a way. But then, that’s not for me to say.

  • R. G.

    I don’t get American churches. So much preaching and yet full or racist people. I once walked into a pretty big Baptist “center” and nobody even said hi. When someone finally noticed me I was referred to the Spanish church down stairs without asking who I was. Thats not my only reason for thinking the church is full of racist people but it would take for ever to write other experiences.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey R.G. I hate that this was your experience! There are good American churches out there, I promise!

      • R.G

        No worries, I know not all are the same. This was the case in most big churches. Fortunately there is still small churches out there that see other Christians as brothers no matter what race or culture. I just was wish there was less hypocrisy in our churches.

        • joshdaffern

          agreed

        • Cherry

          Don’t assume that a large church is unfriendly because it is racist. You are unfairly judging since you cannot know their motive and heart. Size alone can be a deterrent to “friendliness” simply because no one, including the pastor, knows who is a visitor and who is a member. People complain about programs being impersonal, but it often takes organized church programs to make sure visitors feel welcomed and get connected to a church. One way to avoid the whole issue is to reach out yourself and ask for what you want, “Which way to the sanctuary?” “Good morning! where can I get some information on your church?” I started attending a small church about 4 months ago and wondered about a man who sat in front of me, yet never even spoke to me. Others were friendly though. Finally I introduced myself and found out that we had both started visiting this church on the same week and each thought the other was an “unfriendly church member”. Just take the initiative and reach out. Maybe you were meant to be that Greeting Committee that makes people from all cultures feel welcome.

  • Wayne

    I think we all are missing the point of what makes up the church. I feel it is the people that makes up the body of Christ, it isn’t the building, it isn’t the way you dress, it is not the way you speak, some people has the ability to speak with so much grace, and others are not, but there actions speak far above being able to speak gracefully but yet will not lift a finger to help a hurting spirit that is needing help. I experienced years ago when my wife had a heart attack and was in very critical conditions, not one one from the church that I was going to offered to help me with her, a co- worker that cursed with every breath he drew walked up to me and offered his help and his family to help my wife and I, any way they could. I thought long and hard about this all the love the people talked about in church, must have stayed inside the walls it did not come outside the walls to help with my wife. I managed to work and take care of her at the same time. Most people that run there mouth as Christians are being used as a bible by the lost and when they see things of this nature, and say if this is what a Christian is I want no part of this, and I fully understand. Some people don’t understand they did nothing good enough to get to heaven but yet say look at me, My Jesus paid my debt in full so that I could make a free will decision do I ask him to come in my heart and save me or not. I love Jesus for everything thing he did for me and gave me a path way to heaven when he calls me home. I know I am not good enough to go, but I know who is going to welcome me home. I have thought from time I was in my teens, we are going to see a lot of people there that you didn’t expect to see and same with ones you thought you would see that is not. People make the plan of salvation so hard and it should never be that way, in my ignorant way of thinking there is only one thing that will keep me out of heaven, that is the fact I never excepted him as my lord and savior, and I asked many years ago for him to save me and he did, and I know that promise is always there.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Wayne you’re right on when you say the church isn’t the building. It is (and has always been) the people. I’m glad Jesus saved you (and that he saved me too)!

  • Sue

    The Church gets a Big Head and won’t greet the new people and welcome them to the church..

    or you just don’t feel like you are welcome cause of what you wear..

    They are in suits and nice dresses..

    Some women don’t own a dress

    • Sue

      I am talking about 10 Things the Church puts ahead of reaching people..

      What wrong is in the churches now

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Sue, I think you’re right on. I’ve attended many churches in my life, and I always hate visiting a new church. The way a church greets (or doesn’t greet) a first-time guest makes a huge difference!

  • Bill

    Another huge issue I have not seen in this article is guilt. Many ministers use guilt heavily and frequently (sometimes, weekly) in there sermons to attempt to guilt the parish attendees into tithing more money. They fail to understand that in today’s times many families are struggling financially and cannot afford much. Putting money in the collection every week can be a challenge, but then add on all the other “good will” tasks the church attempts and asks for money to support. This pressure and guilt extolled by the minister can cause many good-hearted participants to avoid church out of the guilt that they can’t afford to go to church.

    I know. As a retiree on a fixed income, I very often feel guilty when I cannot help support some the ministries the church gets involved in. It’s not a good feeling. Attending church is suppose to lift your heart and spirit that you walk away feeling better about yourself and those around you. Not walking away feeling guilty and having your esteem lower than when you came into the building.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Bill, I think that’s a good word. Giving is incredibly important for the church, but the church can go about asking for money in bad ways. The motivation should always be completing the task of the Great Commission. There should be a vision of the lives that will change because of the money given. A guilt trip to maintain programs that may or may not be effective is a lose-lose situation for everyone. Ineffective programs are continued, and people are guilted when that shouldn’t be the primary motivation to give.

  • Donna

    I don’t know if this is the right platform for this, but it needs to be said. If we want our future generation to be examples of Christ then we need to rethink in some cases how we handle situations with the teenagers in our churches. I have personally witnessed some policies that churches have. If a teenager comes to the the youth group and participates in youth events but does not come to church on Sundays then he or she cannot come back to the youth group! What? Wake up people! The youth group, the fellowship, and the youth activities is THEIR CHURCH! Do not alienate them! That’s why we have youth “Pastors”!

    Another example is asking a teenager to leave the youth group because of their behavior. If someone is acting out and causing disruption the last thing you do is kick them out! If all the other teens are good kids then kick them out and minister to the one who is acting out and minister to their family! I can pretty much assure you that they are having difficulties outside of the youth group that you are totally unaware of. Christ demonstrated this with the “women at the well” she was an outcast. He showed her Grace, Love, Kindness and He knew all about her past, her present and He prepared her for her future.

    • joshdaffern

      Hey Donna I totally agree. For ten years I was a youth pastor and I saw some of this stuff personally. Whether we like it or not, the youth are the future of the church. If we can’t reach them, then there’s no hope for our churches.

  • There are people in church,that set there like they are the best Christian , and all the time talking to the person next to them ,laughing about how someone is dress.As for the Preacher which one can we trust,they see other women on the outside of church . Some church don’t make you feel welcome.I want a church where everybody work,pray,and enjoy each other company . Invited a couple home on Sunday for dinner.Or go out to dinner with another friend . Also when church is over ,where the preacher,not at the door shaking hand and chatting a little . Anymore,I want my old time Church BACK . FAMILIES

  • Tim

    Gossip. Destructive, divisive, evil gossip. Also, the “I got mine” attitude. “If you get saved, great, but don’t expect me to put any effort into you. I’m busy enough, you know.” I once attended a church where the finance committee never missed a meeting, but the evangelism committee hadn’t met in 18 months. The heart of that church was quite evident.

    • joshdaffern

      Thanks for sharing Tim!

  • Cindy Jordan

    im sendin this

  • Robin Masters

    you are right on about a lot of these observations. That’ s why I quit going to my church. They were more interested in getting their new bldgs. built, (they did need to stretch out, make more space) than in tending to the needs of the congregation….Everybody was friendly and all, but I had an experience with a church elder (a conversation about gay people) and he was rude. So I stopped going to that church and no one has ever tried to reach out to me, and that’s been over 10 yrs. ago……most people are “lost”, and need a little guidance…I have even been to FBC a few times and have had no one call or reach out to me or my boyfriend….are we lost causes?

    yes, of course we can get in car and drive back to church and I plan on it, just making a point…

  • Robin Masters

    you may delete name of church I mentioned, I should have just said a church….I don’t want to call anybody out in public….

    • joshdaffern

      okay

  • Ellen

    Justifying poor behavior or actions by some people while judging others. I have seen too often people in churches “preaching” to others about you shouldn’t do A, B or C because the Bible says not to, but they will always find a reason to justify why they do something of a similar nature or just as bad. I would also say that churches should not focus on trivial matters, focus on what really matters.

    • joshdaffern

      Absolutely right Ellen!

  • I would add,

    1. Thinking that the elect are the only ones going to heaven which is pure Calvinsim which I don’t think many of today’s Calvinists even believe.

    2. Thinking that everyone is going to heaven anyway.

    3. Thinking that what the bible calls the new birth by the Holy Spirit isn’t a real necessity.

    4. Thinking that God cannot be known via personal faith.

    5. Thinking that Jesus only came to make basically good people better but not to change people dead in sin from spiritual death to life.

    6. Thinking that eternal life is not really real.

    7. Think that there will not be anyone who does not get to heaven.

    I think that’s about all. There are probably still more.

    • joshdaffern

      Great points!

  • Cherry

    A suggestion for the author: It seems you have a problem with wanting free reign to destroy/change/control what others before you have sacrificed to build (both brick and mortar AND organizationally). I’m not judging your motives or the motives of those you are harping on (the church). My suggestion is for you to raise your own money, build your own building and go at it and do church exactly how you think is best. You may learn something along the way.

  • I’d add “Social Identity” to the list – the poorly named “homogenous unit” principle is, sadly, true. People are most comfortable in the presence of others who are like them in racial identity, economic status, education, political views & etc.

    This is close to your “Social Status” (item #7) but moves beyond classification to personal identity.

    In the average middle to upper-middle class church the bikers, cowboys and the poor will not feel welcomed. The folks in the church may think they’re welcoming, but it won’t be received that way by the “other.” Making them feel genuinely welcomed – in terms they receive – requires a lot of hard work.

    Most churches aren’t up for it.

  • Michael Guertin

    Good insights Josh. If it’s okay, I have copied this material for further study and possible sermon adaptation later.

    • joshdaffern

      Thanks Michael. Yes, by all means utilize it however you’d like!

      • saundra

        Does anyone remember that old song we used to sing back in the 80’s Called “Jesus Built This Church On Love” ? It just seems to me that back in that time there was a different feel in the church as a whole. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and my situation but I’ve talked to many people over the last few years and I’ve gotten many similar stories. People going to church and they don’t feel like they belong because they aren’t part of the “click”. I myself have been raised in the church and my Dad was a Pastor. So the church scene is nothing new to me. What is new is this nasty attitude that “Christians” have, these days, that they feel that it’s ok to love you but they don’t have to like you. I actually heard an “evangelist” preach this to a big group of this one particular click follows after the “evangelist”. No, it is not ok to love but not like people who are coming into your church trying to find a place to fit into after being chew up and spit out by this cruel world! We are told love one another as Christ loves us. He has taken us in and gave us the spirit of adoption. If evangelist, which people are looking up to can get up and preach this junk, it’s no wonder we have such nasty attitudes within churches…. We have to make our churches a place of refuge, where people can come in broken and be changed by the power of Christ. That will not happen if we don’t foster a spirit of love!

  • Anne Getalds

    Father, why have you for shaken Me!

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