Summary: Many in Canada are saying yes to God but no to the church. This sermon address why we NEED to belong. Statics presented, issues of loneliness discussed. Reasons why people avoid church share and God’s design explained. The Church, God designed, God o
FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY
(title borrow from Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church and Purpose Driven Life)
One day a little boy was asked by his pastor if he knew why they always served coffee after the sermon. Little boy responded, "I think I know. Is it’s to get the people awake before they drive home?"
(orignal story - Jim Cane’s sermon “Tale of two Tables – www.sermoncentral.com)
Listen to these interesting statistics and comments recorded in a well known Canadian survey about the church:
81% of Canadians surveyed agreed with the following comment “I don’t think you need to go to church in order to be a good Christian”
70% agreed with this statement “My private beliefs about Christianity are more important than what is taught by any church”
84% of those Canadians surveyed said they believe in God, however only 20% actually attend church on a weekly basis.
And here’s the clincher, 77% of those surveyed identify themselves with a Christian church.
("Canadians Believers Not Belongers" an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted in 2000 - see http://www.ipsos-reid.com/media/dsp_displaypr_cdn.cfm?id_to_view=1020)
Here’s an important question, “Why are so many people avoiding church?”
According to the statistics there are many people who are positive about God but very negative about the church.
What is it that keeps them so far away?
Let me ask you a personal question, don’t worry you won’t have to answer out loud, but think about it, “Why are you here? Why do you belong to this or any other church? I’m not asking you why you come to church, hopefully you remember why, that what we learned from last week’s sermon. This week’s question is “Why are you a member or regular attendee of this or any other church?”
Sometimes the reason why people avoid church is easier to express. So, lets begin there:
SOME REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON’T GO TO CHURCH:
“The church is filled with hypocrites” - true sometimes isn’t it? When we begin to live in ways which clearly contradict God’s calling and teaching isn’t that being hypocritical? However, we know that God’s Word calls Saints on the one hand and Sinners on the other – once again, the word “sin” in the original New Testament language means “to miss the mark” - God has called us to live one way, because that’s how we were designed to live, and when we live differently, we “miss the mark” – that’s what the Bible calls sin – Goals, priorities, lifestyles which miss the target, the reason, the purpose, for which we were originally created.
If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when even Christians miss the mark, times when we act contrary to what we believe. Sometimes there is hypocrisy in the church, but that is normal – if our objective is to reach those who don’t know God, if we are not perfect people, then there will be conflict, differences, people acting in ways contrary to what God’s Word teaches. My friends, we are on a journey, none of us have arrived, perhaps we can hang a sign outside our church which reads – PERFECT PEOPLE ARE NOT WELCOME IN THIS CHURCH ONLY THOSE, LIKE US, WHO ARE SEARCHING, GROWING, AND RECOGNIZE THEY MISS THE MARK.
“All they want is my money” - true sometimes, isn’t it? When we make money the main reflector of an individual’s spirituality. When we ignore how God has enabled people, when we neglect their spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, skills, they have no function in the church and feel relegated simply to a pew sitter and offering plate filler. When leadership ignores the biblical concept of the church, which includes the priesthood of all believers, then people get the wrong impression about church, even those inside the family get the wrong impression!
“Church is boring or irrelevant” - true sometimes isn’t it? When we fail to demonstrate the practical reality of our faith, when we fail to teach what the what Biblical purpose of the church is, when we fail to understand our times, the culture we live in and fail to be creative in building bridges which help people see the importance and validity of the church then those who are fair in their view that we are archaic, boring and irrelevant are correct in their analysis!
“They talk about love but when I went in there they were very unfriendly towards me and one another” - this has to be the worse possible indictment of the church. When the very ingredient, which is to be our hallmark, is completely void from our relationships we have ceased to be the church. Jesus himself said, “by this all people will know you are my disciples - if you have love one for another!”
I don’t stand up here today in judgment nor do I seek to make people uncomfortable. This whole subject of avoiding church is very close to my heart. I too was one who had 101 excuses why I didn’t need the church – in my early twenties I stopped coming to Olivet for a brief period, I said church was boring, I had more important things to do on my weekends – I was working to pay for my college tuition, my books, and clothes, I could work better shifts at the restaurant I was working at.