Church And Church Bashing

The buzz, whether it is true or not, says that the younger generations are leaving church. Fewer and fewer young families are investing in Sunday morning worship or are putting their offspring into Bible classes designed for their age.

How much of this shift is due to church bashing, I wonder.

The traditional church has long been criticized. The Jesus Movement of the ’70s was an outgrowth of the dissatisfaction of a younger generation with the traditions they deemed straight-laced and meaningless.

Some congregations bowed to the demands of the youth culture, and for a time an exciting revival appeared to be sweeping through the church. Until some of those groups, led by the untaught, crumbled under false teaching or scandal.

A number of other churches held fast to the Bible as the authority even in a culture in flux. I happen to be fortunate enough to attend just such a church.

I hear what others on the web say about church, and it sounds like a foreign entity to me: mostly attended by women, full of infighting, legalistic, hypocritical, out of touch with the needs of society. That just doesn’t happen to be my experience.

Don’t get me wrong. All churches have shortcomings because they are made up of people, each one a sinner saved by grace, living somewhere between Romans 6, 7, and 8. In other words, some of us are struggling mightily with sin, some are living as more than conquerors, but probably most of us are somewhere in between.

I’ve been in a bad church before — where the worship leader didn’t believe in the divinity of Christ or much of the Bible as anything but myth. That was not a healthy church.

I’ve sat under good teaching, only to find out that the pastor’s wife was having an affair and their marriage ended up in divorce. This was not something that strengthened that body of believers.

What’s my point? Part of me wants to take an entire generation by the scruff of the neck and say, Man up! Stop complaining about church and get in there and make it better. (This approach is probably not the best example of speaking the truth in love, however 🙄 ).

No, the church isn’t perfect, but sitting around complaining about it and boycotting it (I did that for a while, too) assure the fact that you will have no part in a solution.

The truth is, the Church is the bride of Christ. He will not let His bride fail. Whether churches in America pay attention or not is another thing.

In the book of Revelation John wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to seven churches, and they all failed. The church in America faces a good many of the same issues those churches faced: wealth that can be a stumbling block, complacency, a propensity to leave our first love, a lukewarm attitude, false teaching, compromise, immorality. We have a choice to make. Will we bail on church, and so insure that the American church fails?

As I see it, church bashing may be in vogue, but it is certainly not in line with God’s purpose for His bride. Rather than sit back and complain, perhaps we would be wise to pray for our local body, to engage our pastors and worship leaders with thankful hearts, to love those in Christ who we sit next to Sunday after Sunday. God makes it clear that the way we treat each other (not our style of worship) tells the world who we are. I believe a body of Christians who love God and love each other will be winsome and attractive, even to the post-modern generation.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm  Comments (17)  
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17 Comments

  1. Amen. Let us learn to love one another and lift one another up to the Father, that He might heal us and our church.

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  2. Much needed words. To save everyone the effort later, I attend a very non-traditional church. We are reformed church, committed to the 5 Solas that has a band and contemporary music. Anyone who calls us the “frozen chosen” hasn’t attended a worship service at Emerald Coast Community Church. With that said …

    It has become a popular sport of the Emergent /. Post Modern movement to see far more wrong with the organized church than the unregenerate world. Maybe it’s because we are an easy target but I think it is arises from something far deeper.Thanks Rebecca for words we need to hear.

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  3. I guess I’m living in a cave, I’m not hearing church bashing where I am.
    What I am hearing on various blogs and websites is bashing of certain Christian non-fiction authors, teachers, pastor’s. That I may be addressing soon on my blog.
    I’m a new follower and I’m enjoying your blog!

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  4. Amen! Amen! Amen!

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  5. If someone bashed my wife, I’d be fighting mad. I’d hate to be the one who bashes Christ’s bride.
    It seems that when the ‘seeker’s’ movement started, church became an event instead of a fellowship. No longer was faithfulness in attendance a priority. Small groups took the place of Sunday and Wednesday evening services, adversely splintering (in my opinion) the body. Church participation took a backseat to any other weekend plans. I know, because it has affected me.

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  6. Great post, Becky. I’ve been bothered for some time by the infighting over “church” among Christians. Even among denominations. If the world will know we are Christ’s followers by our love one for another, how are we doing? How are we measuring up? Christ prayed that we would be unified, one, as He and the Father are one. Again, how are doing with that whole unified thing? I’m ashamed to say . . .

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  7. I really can’t agree fully with Bob’s take on small groups as they are the back bone of discipleship in many fellowships. They are hardly even driven and in fact quite the opposite.

    Now on to a much more important topic:
    1) How come Mike Dellosso can figure out how to leave comments on your site and not mine and….
    2) How come his picture shows us and not mine.

    Inquiring minds need to know 🙂

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  8. Normandie, Morgan, thanks so much for your feedback.

    Annette, welcome to A Christian Worldview of Fiction. 😀

    Count yourself blessed that you haven’t been subjected to church bashing. There have been books on the subject, and I see comments regularly on email loops and the like that imply, or state outright, that the traditional church is nothing but a bunch of Pharisees. Those are the kinds of statements that get repeated so often that people start believing them without any first hand experience in church. In other words, that kind of buzz chases people away.

    Interesting that you brought up posts bashing individuals. I’ve been asking myself how I am to determine what is speaking against a brother and what is warning against false teaching. I’ve seen in other discussions that those who agree with what I consider false teaching will look at me as treating the person they view as a brother with a lack of love simply because I believe that person is straying from the clear teaching of the Bible. I may have to explore this issue some.

    Becky

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  9. Tim, thanks for your input. I hadn’t actually thought about the fact that some point at the traditional church as worse than the unregenerate world, but I think you’re right in that assessment. Last December I wrote an article prompted by the oft repeated idea that Christians in traditional churches are today’s Pharisees.

    BTW, Mike will have to answer for himself about his comments (I suspect he’s doing a tune-up for his blog tour next week 😉 ). And I see you figured out how to get your picture to come up. Yay!

    Becky

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  10. Bob, you helped me gain perspective. If a husband would be so outraged by someone mistreating his wife, how grieved and aggrieved God must be.

    I did have the same reaction to your inclusion of small groups that Mike had, however. I don’t think the size of our gatherings is at issue. There are some places around the world that have only a handful of believers in a church or who have to congregate in small groups because of persecution. The size isn’t the problem. To me it’s more the idea of what’s taking place. Are we substituting “conversations” for the teaching of the word of God? That’s a problem!

    Mike, thanks for stopping by. No doubt we have much to learn about loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, loving our neighbors, and even loving our enemies. But it is interesting that out of all the things Jesus tells us, the one that He said would be most like His relationship with the Father is our treatment of one another. My!

    Becky

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  11. I agree, we really don’t need to “bash the Church” as Believers because as Believers we ARE the “Church”. When I personally “bash” anything, it’s usually the religious spirit and traditions made by man that have either been around for centuries or even in recent decades have cropped up. Unfortunately, so many Believers are so certain that the traditions they hold dear are Biblically based that when I “bash” those they think I’m bashing the Church. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your post here is good for all of us to further consider how we speak out against the hypocrisy that does go on in the Church without doing even more damage to ourselves as we cause damage to the Body of Christ as a whole. Thanks so much for writing this. 😀

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  12. Tim, I think it’s the Disqus thing you use that I’m having a problem with. Maybe it’s the spelling . . .

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  13. So what do you do, when your Pastor doesn’t want to hear about solutions, from a new comer? A church that doesn’t even have its own building, and people who are new, are willing to help grow the church, the present Pastor states he doesn’t want to hear their ideas on how to grow the church? I have this problem, and I feel that I’m an active volunteer, however, I am put off by the way I’ve been treated at my church. Sometimes I dread even going at all.

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  14. Maybe it’s because we are an easy target but I think it is arises from something far deeper. Tim, I think you’re right, and I think that might be in interesting topic to explore.

    David, thanks for your comment. I think it leads naturally to Simone’s questions, because certainly all that happens in church is not good, right, or perfect. I think the answer is for us to go back to Scripture.

    Take worship style, for example. I’m familiar with that argument because I grew up in a church that by tradition did not allow musical instruments (no, not even a piano). It didn’t take me long, once I was old enough, to realize that King David certainly worshiped using musical instruments. So! But as the church shifted away from the tradition, there was never a hard look at practice or an examination of what the Bible says. It was more of a , most people would really like to have a piano, so we’ll get one and use it for weddings and maybe the offertory. We just won’t sing with it. Until, of course, they did start singing to the piano. Soon thereafter the issue became using guitars in the worship service. Horrors!

    You get my point. Unless we take our questions to the Bible, we really are adrift with the whims of our church culture, which most likely will be guided by the wishes of the strong and vocal few.

    Simone, your issue is very practical. I’ll say this — lots of organizations aren’t particularly open to newcomers changing things. First, I think, it’s important to earn their trust. You have the desire to volunteer, so I suggest volunteering to do whatever is available and do things the way they’ve been done before. At the same time, let people know who you are, how you love Jesus, how you want to serve Him. At some point, when you are the one doing the work and the others trust you and trust your judgment, they’re more apt to listen to suggestions. In the mean time, it sounds like you are going to learn a lot about forgiveness and loving your neighbor — which is hard when your neighbor doesn’t do loving things. Mostly, though, pray for your church — the leaders, the pastor, the others who might be getting frustrated, and for the very ones who frustrate you. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s hard to have a bad attitude toward someone you’re praying for.

    Hope something here is helpful.

    Becky

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  15. I got so sick and tired of church bashing online and elsewhere that I have begun a friday column called, “The Chronicles of Church Fellowship,” where people can contribute stories of what God did in Church Fellowship. I LOVED this artcle. It’s my favorite one. It’s so heartening to hear, but it would be even more heartening if people would excercise this.

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  16. Nikole, I’m glad this article resonated with you. I figure the first step is for us to be honest about the problem, then to pray for anyone who seems embroiled in it. I believe God will be glorified in His church. It’s a matter of whether or not we want to be part of that process. I love the idea of your Friday column. Excellent idea.

    Becky

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  17. Great post, Becky!

    I would agree that Church bashing is popular to do right now and most people will follow the trend to feel a part of the most current thing to do.

    However, I do believe that modern Christianity has open itself to deserved criticism.

    I wrote a little bit about this today on my blog.

    http://kammbia1.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/wisdom-of-marion-vol-1-33-ecclesiastes-101-20/

    I’m doing a study of the Book of Ecclesiastes. My favorite book in the Bible and probably the most overlooked book in the Bible.

    We live in a self help society instead of a God’s help society. And the modern church has gotten suck into that mindset as well.

    And because the Church is afraid to be different and conform to fit in and that’s where the bashing comes in.

    Marion

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