The Living Stone...where music lifts the spirit, friendships warm the heart, and the Word of God feeds the hungry soul.
Is the church still
Research of religious opinion in America indicates that non-Christians claim to appreciate Jesus but dislike the church. More and more, Christians believe they can do fine apart from the church. Why is this? What is it about church that drives people away but the desire for spirituality seems to continue unabated?
Attendance at American churches is less than half what has been believed in the past, claims Dave Olson, Dir. of the American Church Research Project. Olson’s research revealed that overall church attendance is virtually unchanged from 15 years ago, even though the US population has grown by 52 million people.
Kevin DeYoung writes in Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, "Increasingly, we hear glowing talk of a churchless Christianity. ...These days, spirituality is hot; religion is not. Community is hip, but the church is lame."
Hundreds of years of accumulated church tradition has slowly undermined the purpose and work of the church. As members of churches substituted the divine work of grace through Jesus alone by faith alone (the Gospel) for the strict adherence to "behaviors" imposed by man, church rapidly became irrelevant. These behaviors became shallow and unfulfilling and offered no one the abundant life Jesus spoke of in the Bible.
So, the "empty traditions of the forefathers" as Peter speaks of in the Bible, sadly became confused for the true work of the church. And people have been fleeing the church by the thousands each day in search of other unfulfilling answers.
But man-made religious traditions that accumulated over hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth and the religious arrogance of the leaders of the day were the very things that Jesus spoke so passionately against!
If people don’t attend church “because of all the hypocrites”, then they might be comforted in knowing that Jesus called the falsely-religious people of his day hypocrites more often than any other person in scripture. As a matter of fact, he saved his harshest words for his last week on earth when he called the religious leaders “poisonous snakes” and “blind guides”!
But Jesus also called His church His "bride". The scripture tells us that He loved the church so much that He gave up His life for the church. Here, then, is the challenge: What should the church look and behave like?
Jesus didn't die to protect a strict adherence to man-made traditions. He didn't hang from the cross to protect arrogant positions of power and control. He didn't rise from the grave so that His church would become a social club.
Transformed, transparent Christ-like relationships MUST be our goal if the church is to mean anything to hurting people.
Jesus died to free us all from sin’s devastating grip on our souls, our families, our finances, our jobs, our future: In other words, every arena of our lives! And he established the church to proclaim that very message. Within the context of transparent, Christ-like relationships in a Gospel-centered church, people can be drawn to and transformed by the power of the Risen Lord.
So, the church is nothing if it is not in “the life transformation business”! In other words, if the heart is transformed by the Gospel and our lives are being changed to be more like Jesus, then the church is becoming what Jesus intended it to be.
We welcome you to join us as we discover together what the transforming power of Jesus Christ can do for us, our families, and every area of our lives. Let’s walk this exciting way of joyful discovery together.