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Is the Church “Loosing My Religion”?

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Yesterday, I read an interesting article in USA Today that, unfortunately, doesn’t come as a shock.  It is a sign of the fast-paced times we live in where we wont everything at once…but in dosages we can fit into our schedule.  A poll, taken via telephone of 18-29 year olds turned out that nearly 80% of them professed to be "more spiritual than religious."  The article goes on to quote Thom Rainer, a man I have grown to respect who makes a shocking – but humbling statement.

"the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships"

Why?  I’ve got my thoughts – but let’s look at some of the statistics the poll gave first:

  • 65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
  • 65% rarely or never attend worship services.
  • 67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.
  • Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.
  • 68% did not mention faith, religion or spirituality when asked what was "really important in life."
  • 50% do not attend church at least weekly.
  • 36% rarely or never read the Bible.
  • only 40% say it is their responsibility to share the Gospel.

We live in a day and age when churches are popping up left and right – many, I feel, are more affixed on becoming the next MegaChurch than they are with truly spreading the Word and reaching the lost.  When creating and building a church becomes the "in thing" to do instead of the "right thing" to do or the thing that we are "called to do", then I have to question the fruits of that labor.  True, God can make some awesome things from our vain labors…but I think there are many dead branches being planted instead of fresh fruit being harvested.

In years past, it took a lot of hard work, preparation, dedication, and thoughtful prayer to plant a church.  Now, simply having the mere space available and a few portable amenities can cause a church to be planted just about anywhere.  Is it a bad thing?  By all means, no – but having the quick and easy access is no less cause for the need to prayerfully evaluate the need for the church, picking the leadership of the church, and prayerfully considering the direction of the church.

These "fast-plant" churches, when not properly conceived in Christ’s plan, have an awesome ability to draw crowds, bring in tithes, and grow rapidly.  They do so because we live in a microwave society.  We like things new…we like things fast…we like things simple…but we like things technical.  Eventually, however, the newness wears off.  The wheels start to slow down.  The "this isn’t my parent’s church" type feeling wears off…and there is little left.  

While we may have a microwave mentality…we have a crock-pot God.  We have a God who was present before the technology…who knew cool long before we did.  He knew that one day, sermons would be transmitted via holograms…and yet He still outlined the design He would have for His church in the Bible.

Does it mean that the MegaChurch is out?  By all means…no.  I am proud to attend and serve as a worship leader at a church considered by some a mega church – a multi-site church at that.  My church, however, has a single foundation: God’s Word…and a pastor who will not back away from that Word for a moment – even if it may mean offending some people or losing a tithe here or there.  Does this mean that the portable or theater church is out?  No.  I can easily point you to several churches that started out in theaters or in homes that are doing quite well years later because their Biblical principles have been…and continue to be solid.

My point, however much the authority on the subject I am not, is that this trend in building churches faster than one can turn around cannot possibly be justified by simply the presence of those in the community who are lost no more than I am qualified to build a bank based on the number of those people in my community who need money.  In both cases the need is there…but the right situation will exist for both to be created.

Thoughts?

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