It's no surprise to any of you that have read my blogs before that I am a millennial who feels very strongly about the way churches are progressing (or at a stand still).
There is a whole generation I see being lost.
I'm not attempting to stir the pot, while that may be what some think I'm doing. But rather, my intent is to educate everyone on the place my whole generation is at. Doing so in hopes of being heard, so that change can come. It's desperately needed.
I titled this blog "Fill the Pews," because let's be frank, that's what my parents' generation and older care about. The emphasis, from what I see, isn't on the souls of the people there, but more about the fact that there are butts in those seats. Its about wanting numbers, not relationships. And I so often see this scripture thrown around in an attempt to strong-arm people to church.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT
The fact is however, while I agree that church attendance is important, it's not in the way I think people portray it.
If you are leaving a church more empty than when you arrived, something about that isn't right. The verses say, "let us motivate one another to acts of love and good works." The whole point of a church family is the motivate and encourage one another to strive to live more like Jesus.
What I see happening is people throwing around these verses to guilt some emotion and cause people to attend church services they've been neglecting. And frankly, that defeats everything God intended His church to be!
Not attending a Sunday morning, evening, or Wednesday night service doesn't make you any less of a Christian, because if you aren't gaining something from the people in that building, why be there?
I'm being very candid today, and that's because I see this first-hand. God intended us to love one another and for His worship to be an uplifting, encouraging time spent with other believers. So often though, it's about filling the pews and making sure numbers aren't dropping. Frankly, I'm more concerned with the souls we are losing.
I'll be honest, attending church isn't as much of a priority for me as it used to be, and here's why…
My relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been, and I am so much more invested in the study, communication, and meditation I spend with my God than I've ever experienced. The catch? It has nothing to do with a building of believers that I associate with. Because what I've seen in the last 2 years is a rapid decline in spiritual growth. I walk into a hollow building once a week and pretend to be gaining something from it, but the sad reality is, I am gaining more from the group of Christians I associate with outside of that building than I ever have inside. And the sad truth is that every single person I've spoken with about this feels the same way.
American churches are dying off.
We've gone from older Christians encouraging and teaching younger Christians…to older Christians belittling, bashing, and demeaning younger Christians for wanting change and growth. It's about holding onto the traditional church service and Bible pounding to get us in the doors. That's making an entire generation run the other way though!
I'm not trying to bash a specific church or body of believers, but what I am doing is making a cry for help. A cry to wake up the leaders of churches around the country to a dying generation, and a growing epidemic.
You are losing us, and it's not because your building isn't cool enough or because you don't serve coffee in the foyer. It's because American churches are focusing on numbers and not on relationships.
I promise, the moment we as Christians stop worrying about guilting people to come to your Sunday night worship service, and start focusing on the souls of the people you're ministering to, numbers will increase, and God will be glorified.
We don't need church.
We need each other.
So consider that the next time you concern yourself with pushing for growth. Maybe ask the question, what am I doing wrong? And how can I reach the people I'm losing?
And here's an idea, ask the people you're losing why you're losing them!
It's not about filling the pews. It's about filling our cups to overflow with the love and compassion Jesus died to teach us. When it stops being about us and starts being about Him, that's when the American church will begin to look up from its shallow grave.