Leaving Church Behind
By Mario Murillo
It is a crisis that youth have left the church. The greater crisis is our blind allegiance to a model that we believe will win them, but that is actually boring them to death. Read these words from a young writer named Matt Walsh as he describes the all too common modern church service.
I walked in and immediately realized that I’d inadvertently stumbled upon a totally relaxed, convenient, comfortable brand of church. The first hint was the choir members dressed in shorts and flip flops. Sweet, bro. So chill.
There were a bunch of acoustic guitars and drums and tambourines and a keyboard. Before the service/concert began, some guy came out to rev up the crowd.
The choir, or jam band for Jesus, or whatever it was, played a song that sounded like a cross between a 90′s Disney soundtrack and an easy listening favorite… It wasn’t really contemporary, or good, or relevant, but at least it wasn’t traditional. Because YUCK! Tradition is old!”
The sermon was jam packed with youth slang and pop culture. He mentioned a couple of TV shows and Netflix. He made sports metaphors. He didn’t do anything with the references; he just hung them out there like we were supposed to be impressed that he knows about these things.
About halfway in, I turned around to get a look at my fellow congregants. Do you know what I witnessed? Hundreds of captivated churchgoers. Just kidding. Actually, a lot of empty seats. A disinterested yawn echoed through the hall. I could see the guy next to me fighting to keep his eyes open.
The light of the Faith grows dimmer in this culture because of that church service I attended. Not specifically that one, but that kind of service. And not just that kind of service, but that kind of Christianity, generally. The lame and bored kind. The flavorless, tame brand. Christianity is fading because more and more of our leaders want to steal people from the true faith and deliver them to this convenient version.
When you reduce it to mere distraction and spectacle, it loses its substance, and without its substance it is, among other things, boring.
As atheism and agnosticism surge in popularity, Christianity hemorrhages and fades. Some have tried to argue that the situation isn’t really as bad as all that, but I disagree. I think it’s worse.
Yet many of our fearless leaders, pastors, and pundits think this is, rather than the disease, the remedy. It’s the same remedy they’ve tried for half a century. As the problem gets worse, they don’t change the medication, they just keep upping the dosage.
The Faith of Jesus has over two thousand years of treasure. Church leaders have turned that treasure into trash. The solution is painful but clear. Pastors must utterly abandon the cult of convenience and restore the treasure.
It is time to talk openly and frankly to all preachers about this moral disaster. I have urgent advice that is going to cost me friends in the ministry. Here it is:
Quit defending and giving life to things that do not matter. The church board does not matter. God wants to talk to you, not them. The intimidating ideas of Rick Warren and Joel Osteen do not matter. Their ideas were interesting until our nation slammed into an iceberg named Obama. Your building does not matter. No natural thinking minister would have chosen the upper room or the Azusa street mission.
Even the idea that you would lose your church does not matter. None of these things matter. To believe that they do is to believe that America is not in trouble and the church is not failing. Both of those lies will only contribute to the death of our nation.
When you finally admit what is going on now, you will quit trying to sell God on your good ideas; you will divest yourself of all the growth opinions and strategies that are cancerous to the cause of Christ.
Do not fear offending anyone except the Holy Spirit. Your worst enemy is that part of you that still needs man’s approval. The lust for respectability deafens the voice of God, weakens your courage to obey God, and delays revival like nothing else I know.
Every voice, every idea, every obligation and every person you know is fair game to offend. The only one we must not offend is the Holy Spirit.
He is the member of the Trinity whom Jesus left in charge. John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
God requires us to repent of all of the idols that have replaced the Holy Spirit in our church operation. The Holy Spirit must be restored to His rightful place in church life. Then and only then can we reverse the destruction we see before our eyes.
Milllenials have not rejected Christ, they have rejected Church. This is a strangely comforting thought. Here are the big questions: are we willing to admit that they were right to reject counterfeit Christianity? Are we more interested in winning them or holding onto a program that is killing them boredom?