You are driving to church on a Sunday morning. The parking lot is half-empty today; it is summer time after all. You look around. No, he is nowhere to be found. Making yourself into the church building, you grab a church bulletin (which is 10 page long and looks like a diner menu) and find a seat. The pastor preaches his sermon and you still do not see him. What a disappointing day this has been already and it is only 10:30 AM!
He is not here!
Jesus is not here! He has left the building!
Many people have given up on their Christian faith. Other folks just sit in their pews and are not content but they cannot pinpoint "why". Then you have the worst offenders....those whom believe that their church is the only church out there. You know a few of them.
We have not found Jesus in many of our churches for several reasons:
1. We are obsessed with traditions and not with Christ. As I type this, you are preparing to throw your spears and rocks at me. This happens in many churches. "But Vacation Bible School has always been THAT week". "Our choir has sung the same songs for 2000 years". There is nothing wrong with traditions except the worship of them over the worship of God. Too often, we keep traditions alive that should have died a long time ago. We have kept the traditions to keep people happy and comfortable. No more of this!
Action step: Sit down and clear the calendar of your church. Get rid of events that are not fruitful or fix them. This also applies at home. Don't commit to the same thing every holiday just to please people. That is boring.
2. Messages that are not relevant. People come to church for instruction and growth. I recently read a survey from Lifeway Research that almost 50 % of pastors do not address domestic violence. Now, we know this is happening in homes because we all know people who have been victims. The sad part is when the church tolerates this crap. "Well, she should have pleased her husband more". "Hebrews does talk about needing discipline as a Christian". <----the worse and most pathetic excuses we can
Action step: Pray. Yes, Sunday School answer. Pray that our churches and our homes would focus on what matters: connecting our heart and others to the REAL GOSPEL of Jesus. Start having deeper discussions with family and friends about LIFE. Meet others for coffee or beer. Talk about REAL things.
3. We love our ivory towers. I love new buildings just like everyone else; however, I do not understand the obsession with dumping millions of dollars into a church building (that only the church uses for church things = no outreach). I also don't understand why struggling churches keep dumping money into their ancient churches just to appease people that have stock aka church membership there. I think the Church should set the example for our culture in handling money. God calls us to stewardship and that is bigger than how much money we tithe (give) to the Church in the collection plate. Again, I am not against buildings but I think if we are going to build them--we should ACTUALLY use them more than just Sunday mornings.
Action step: Teach others about money. If you have paid off debt, teach others how you did this. If you lead a simple life--show others WHY you do it. And get ready for people to not understand your methods. We live in a self-absorbed culture. When you life differently, people will question you. Tell them WHY you do what you do.