It is a relevant question for the thirty-eight million people who have dropped out of church in the last decade, part of a total of 156 million unchurched Americans. Incidentally, most all of them have attended a church at some point.
- Consider the organized, institutional church irrelevant
- Become a harsh critic of the church that has personally disappointed you or someone you know.
But, I think…
- The church and THE CHURCH are different things. THE CHURCH is relevant because it includes all those who believe Jesus is who He said he was, and want to live life in a way that imitates him. The organization that calls itself the church is a different animal. While it has huge issues, I don’t want to write it off, because it has the potential to do so much good, in spite of all of its baggage.
- Complaining about the sins of the church isn’t a solution, it’s an observation. It’s time to move on.
- Don’t worry about the church as an organization, but think how to be THE CHURCH in the course of normal life.
It would look like…
Here are some ideas to get us started. I hope you will add to the list.
- Be a regular human. Jettison the specialized Christianese jargon that only works to keep people apart; i.e., those who know the terminology and those who do not. We really shouldn’t need our own little language to describe our faith.
- Integrate faith and life. Don’t try to separate yourself from the cultural mainstream, simply accept it as your address, your context. Of course, you will want to stay away from things that are harmful to yourself or others, while you embrace your time and place. Faith is now a part of regular life, not something apart from it.
- Assume responsibility for your own faith expression. Now that you are not outsourcing it to professional staff, special programs, and an organization, you get to decide how to do it. Make sure what you do is meaningful, and not just some exercise that you impose upon yourself.
- Exterminate arrogance. In some way we all tend to feel we are better people than some other people. To think God values us over others, or we are better than someone because of what we believe, is way off base. It’s the subtle sin of Christians.
- Notice God everywhere. Actually, He shows up in strange places and in strange people. Can you see him?
This list is vastly incomplete. Help me out here.