They Love Jesus But They Don’t Like The Church

Michael Craven writes about this phenomena on Here are a couple of salient paragraphs.

“This appears to be a growing sentiment among many younger Christians in America today. They love Jesus but they want little to do with His Church. It’s not that they don’t like the their local church or even other Christians—it’s that they don’t like how Christianity in America is frequently represented by many professing Evangelicals, which in their minds is often unloving, judgmental, arrogant, and hypocritical.

This assertion finds support in the data revealed in Barna’s most recent research. For example, “four out of five young churchgoers say that Christianity is antihomosexual; half describe it as judgmental, too involved in politics, hypocritical, and confusing; one-third believe their faith is old-fashioned and out of touch with reality; and one-quarter of young Christians believe it is boring and insensitive to others.” (Kinnamon & Lyons, unChristian, Baker Books, 2007, pp.33-34)

It’s difficult to argue with these assertions. After all it’s true that the church has many sins. And both statistics and personal experience confirm that many people between 18-30 are leaving her behind. While I neither want to deny the accuracy of what’s being reported nor defend the church’s sins, I do want to consider a few questions.

1. Isn’t leaving the church because you can’t tolerate the sins of other people a bit self-righteous? To paraphrase Paul in Romans 2, you who chastise others for their hypocrisy, are you ever hypocritical? You who are tired of unloving churches, are you ever unloving? How come it isn’t judgmental when you point on the church’s sins of judgmentalism?

2. Hasn’t the church has always struggled with serious sins ranging from the grumbling of OT believers to the division and arrogance in Corinth? If you made a list of the sins of the biblical church would it be any worse than the sins of today’s churches? A desire to return to the church of yesteryear is built on a naive reading of the Scripture.

3. What is the church made up of? Sinners saved by God’s grace. While we should call all Christians (starting with ourselves) to greater faith and obedience, we shouldn’t be surprised when believers sin. I’m pretty sure that the Bible teaches us that that’s always going to be the case on this side of heaven.

4. Where do you get your view of today’s church? Many get it from the media. While not wanting deny the immaturity of many churches and shift blame to the media, there are tens of thousands of individual Christians and their churches that faithfully live out the gospel in their lives, families, and communities. I’m just suggesting that perhaps your view of the church is less than complete.

5. Have you forgotten that the church is the bride of Christ for whom Christ died? Even with all her stains, blemishes, and insecurities, God loves the church, laid down his life to redeem her, and will one day reign with her. So as justly frustrated as you might be, never ever forget that the church (warts and all) is God’s tool to shine the light of his love in this dark world.

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