Recently some friends my age left the church that I go to, and I have to say; I felt kind of slighted by the whole thing. Now they are going to a different church, and I am sure they have their reasons. But it just feels like it wasn’t just the church they left: it feels like they left me. The next time I saw them, I asked how things were going, but ultimately I really wanted to know why they had moved on.
They talked to me about being bored, and about how our church was not relevant to a younger generation. They said they were “not being fed,” and I nodded my head and really couldn’t argue with anything that they said. Admittedly there are parts of me that could even say the same things. But after we said “goodbye” and I walked away I was still thinking about our conversation.
I mean, why do I go to church? Not just my church, but any church? I also have friends my age who have stopped going to church all together. They have ultimately decided that the “dream church” does not exist, and they would rather live life and just develop their salvation out on their own. So does God really care if I physically go to church each week, or if I go to a different church from time to time—especially if I am not being “fed?” Maybe I would like some more diversity in my life as well, or maybe I would just rather hang out with friends, or sleep in for a change.
I wanted to give this some thought before I jumped to a conclusion. A lot of people my age have expressed similar concerns, and I don’t want to just belittle their situations and their needs. And what I came to was, I think ultimately I go to my church for two reasons: to connect with God and to connect with people. I go to church to make connections outside of myself, to worship with family and to develop relationships with other people who follow Jesus.
Church does not have to try to be relevant and entertaining to my generation. I believe that if church is done right, it will be relevant without even trying. Sometimes I think that just because my church has a stage and a microphone then that means that the people up front are putting on a show, and if the show sucks then I can just walk out or demand my money back.
My connection with God should come through my worship of Him, the prayers that I cry out in desperation to Him and my being open to hearing His words. And if I can’t be fed in church then it is perhaps my own walls and my own prejudices that are standing in the way.
I also said that I go to church to be with people, to be with my friends, to make new friends and to be with you. I wake up Sunday morning to commune with other believers, to listen to them, to smile at them and shake their hands, to sing next to them in service, to sit with them in class and to pray for them when they are in need. I go to church to worship God with other people, but when those people stop coming then church stops becoming church for me.
So ultimately I can’t join my friends or peers in their belief that leaving the church is the right thing to do. Or that “church shopping” is about finding the assembly that speaks my language. If I leave the Church for my own needs, then I am ignoring your needs—and you are half of the reason why I go to church. That is not a percentage I am willing to sacrifice.
Acts 2:42 says that the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
The Church that Jesus set up was communal, and it was built on the devotion of those who participated. If Church isn’t working for me, maybe it’s because I am not working for the Church.