I’ve been wanting to write a post titled, “Why I Don’t Attend Church”. However, I decided I didn’t want to give the wrong impression. I don’t want people to think I’m opposed to attending church, and I didn’t want to encourage those who intentionally avoid attending church because they say it’s “full of hypocrites”.
I will make this very clear right up front. First, I know it’s God’s will for every believer to regularly fellowship with other believers. Secondly, I fully recognize that I’m no better a person than anyone else inside the church walls. In fact, I may be more of a hypocrite than anyone there. Having said that, as anyone who read my last post will realize, there are a number of things about the professing Church today that annoy me, offend me, and even sicken me. This post addresses those things, in no particular order.
Some ministers rightly point out that the church is a “hospital” for broken people. It’s a school for those who need to change and who need to become more Christ-like. Don’t expect to find holy, wonderful, perfect people in the church, because, they say, everyone is fallen and in need of the Doctor of our souls. This is true to an extent, but it’s also a cop-out. When you can find more friendship and warmer fellowship in the local pub than in the church on Sunday, there’s something terribly wrong. Why? Because, as John said:
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
It’s no good just thinking love or even feeling love-you have to do it for it to be love. We have the mistaken notion in the church that if we’re nice to the people we like-those in our little clique and who tick all of our boxes-then we are good Christians. That’s not true, because as Jesus Christ said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” Luke 6:32-36).
How many people inside, and certainly outside the church, would testify that they’re given the cold shoulder in church? I can certainly testify to it: I’ve experienced it many times, to the point of someone physically turning their back on me.
This is not the fault of the leadership of the church. Or is it? If the focus of the church is not love, what is it there for? What is the pastor thinking about? God is Love, says our Scripture! If people can get more love in the pub or at a gay party or in a New Age gathering, isn’t the church just an empty shell? Being right isn’t a ticket to heaven, and if it were, what would heaven be like? I for one would not want to go there, and that’s the view of many millions of people.
I was raised in a church, and I’ve been a professing Christian for a long time. One thing I’ve seen on my life’s journey is the Church largely turning its back on the Bible-the very Scriptures that claim to be the inspired Word of God. As a born-again evangelical I’m sad to have to say that the only church where I’ve seen the Bible truly revered was when I attended a Catholic mass not long ago. The priest, to my great surprise and pleasure, treated the Word as it is: the Holy, infallible message of a Holy, magnificent God to us. How inspiring that was!
I know for sure that some evangelical ministers are truly preaching the Word. But they’re getting fewer and further between now. And many of those have fallen prey to false teachings. At best, among many, we have a feel-good message full of anecdotes and philosophical ponderings, punctuated with the odd Bible verse, to give the message some authority. Even among those who do refer to Scripture, there are increasingly pernicious teachings which actually deny what God has said.
FEELINGS, NOT FAITH
A Facebook friend of mine recently posted this statement:
“Miracles validate faith”.
Martin Luther would be turning over in his grave were he to see this belief in the Church, because as he rightly pointed out, it’s all about faith. As I replied to my friend, it’s faith plus nothing. The only way we can “validate” ourselves to God is by living the life. This is the teaching of Jesus Christ:
“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).
Nowhere in Scripture are we “commanded” to do miracles.
Ah, says the modern miracle man, we have faith in miracles: this is our faith. Really? It’s God we’re supposed to believe in-not miracles as a stand-alone master. Half of the Church has become obsessed with a search for the miraculous. Don’t get me wrong-I believe fully that our God is able to do anything He wishes to do whenever He wishes to. But that’s the measure: it has to be anything He wants to do, not what we think He wants to do, or what we think He is doing. Our faith should be in God-in who He is, and not in miracles.
Many Charismatics don’t seem to realize that their dependence on feelings and on what they think are miracles in the church is actually an obsession with the sensual: what our senses can detect. We’re supposed to be believing in God, but many have become heavily dependent on what they believe to be the workings of God, to the point that if people are not falling over, or speaking in tongues, or having fuzzy feelings, God must not be present. That is utter nonsense, and I cannot attend a church where this philosophy prevails.
Our faith is mature if we can believe and trust in God when it seems that He’s a million miles away. Isn’t faith about believing in what we cannot see? If, then, we are dependent on people falling over, or on those fuzzy feelings, or on what we are convinced is a Holy Spirit language, we are leaning on the sensual-what we can detect with our senses-and not on the God that we cannot see or detect.
While on the subject of the sensual, the matter of worship in the Church comes immediately to mind. I cannot worship God if I’m staring at the worship team. Fallen as we all are, members of the worship team and those of us facing them, are commonly thinking sensual thoughts. “Isn’t he cute!” “Wow, he’s really good on that guitar!” “Why is she wearing those ridiculous pants?” “Man, he has a great voice-I wonder if he’s married?”
Why doesn’t the pastor get this? Is it because he is also too much influenced by the sensual? Is it because he wants to give his flock what he thinks they want, and not what God wants them to want? Does he just not realize? Either way, I for one want to think about the Lord, and not about how good-looking someone on stage is. To me, worship has become performance: a show. And I’m sorry to say this, but it’s a second-rate show at that. If I wanted to see a good band, I certainly wouldn’t go to the church. But I don’t want to see a band! I want to think about Jesus and about holiness and humility-the opposite of much of what I see in the church!
THE WORD OF MAN
Among my pet peeves is the insistence in much of the professing Church that human, worldly, fallen and anti-God philosophies are more truthful than God is. On the subject of creation, evolution has won the day in a large portion of the Church. That is, the idea that death and decay was somehow the design of God, and that it all happened just as the great one-Darwin-has said, and that once in a while there’s a God of sorts who pokes his nose in just to make sure things are okay. This, to my mind, is at best a gross insult to an immortal, infinite, perfect and holy God, and is calling Him a liar. The teachings of Scripture-what we depend upon to give us our hope in eternal life and any sort of ultimate justice-actually says the opposite of what innumerable ministers either teach or quietly believe:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17).
We may not be damned for believing some wrong things, but we may be on very shaky ground indeed, if what we teach actually encourages millions of young people to reject the idea that there is a creator who we are answerable to. By diminishing the Creator we are robbing Him of His glory, we are failing to admire and worship Him for his creative power, and we are effectively telling millions that the word of man is true, but the Word of God is not. I have no respect at all for the minister who denies Biblical creation, and who ignores it so as to appear “scientific” and educated. That isn’t what I became a Christian for. My God is so big that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him. If your God is little and effeminate and weak and limited, count me out. This is what my Scriptures say about it:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17:5).
We are living in a world where belief in the Biblical God is attacked from all directions. In our multi-cultural age, there is a plethora of philosophies, which many are insisting demand equal attention. Where is the teaching to oppose such nonsense as that all truths, as mutually contradictory as they are, are true?
Most particularly, again, people think that scientists have proved that we evolved from nothing and from ape-like creatures. But I see almost no preparation within churches for believers to defend themselves from what are essentially the lies of our greatest enemy. Where are the apologetics classes? Where are the conferences designed to equip our children against the onslaught? They are very sparse. Why? Could it be because our pastors are not really believers: they are themselves convinced by the lies? Could it be because they’re far more interested in defending their positions and their incomes by not broadcasting the very truths that God wants us to know?
CORRUPTION OF BELIEF
Whatever happened to Bible study? I don’t see much of it going on. Without the anchor of Scripture, we are lost in that sea of philosophies, with no assurance of anything. And we are at the mercy of the liar and of faulty thinking and of the corrupted and the false teacher.
It seems to me that the biggest warning Jesus Christ gave of end times is that of false teachers and false prophets. Without good, sound and believing Bible study, the flock is not being protected and prepared. That’s why we now see mega-churches where all kinds of nonsensical and heretical teachings have taken hold.
The Church is being attacked from within, and most recently it is being attacked by those who have abandoned the words of our God and the facts of nature, which tell us that in the beginning God created male and female, and that this is the basis of marriage and godly sexuality (Matthew 19:4-6). I will not attend a church where that which is an abomination to God is accepted.
In closing, I must say that I’m hoping to find an evangelical church where the Word of God is preached in its fullness, where people will accept me for what I am, where worship is the worship of God and not entertainment, where I can be equipped to deal with the lies of my enemy, and where I can be readied for the things I have to deal with in life.
2 thoughts on “I Didn’t Go To Church Today.”
I understand and agree with many of the things you’ve written in this post. Finding a fellowship that you can enter in and feel at home in is getting more and more difficult. Either they’re weird and wacky or they’re “dead” and should have folded decades ago. I have been in the same conundrum before. My advice? Keep looking. Stay smaller rather than larger. Find some place that focusses on Christ as “the main thing”. Pro Tip: even bible teaching can be an Idol. It depends on how it’s done and for what purpose. Lastly, find a place that IS the church meeting in a building or where ever The Church meets together for encouragement, equipping and Life. Don’t be discouraged. We are meant to gather together “even the more so as we see the Day approaching”. But that isn’t or shouldn’t be limited to a “church” building or “service time” on just the one day of the week. We… The Church… are an organism, His Body, motivated and Vivified by His Very Life… not an organization to be “attended” or “plugged into”. Keep looking. Find LIFE in the Body.
Thank you so much for those wise comments.
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