Why are there so many Unchurched people today; people that do not go to church? Why have some people left the church? Many of these people are seeking a relationship with God.
Many of these people know that there is something lacking in their life… something is missing. They want to reach-out to God and again they want a relationship or a closer relationship with God but they refuse to go to a church! WHY?
Some people are waiting for the Church to catch-up to God’s Benevolence and Grace! But the Church can't wait;
the Church needs these people NOW!
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Church is not a courtroom to judge sinners.
Church is not a social club for saints.
Church is a hospital to heal sinners.
Some of the reasons why people do NOT go to church
Or why some people have left the church are:
· They believe that people in church are judgmental!
· They believe that people in church are condemning!
· They believe that people in church are intolerant!
· They believe that people in church are hypocritical!
· They believe that people in church are filled with their own self-righteousness and look down upon others!
· They believe that people in church are exclude others; that they are not inclusive!
They believe that people in church are angry, judgmental, condemning, intolerant, hypocritical, exclusive, and self-righteous! WOW! And what is so sad is that at times they are right! But please, let’s remember that all Christians are just regular, normal, imperfect people just like you. All people in church are Imperfect Christians!
But even people who have never stepped into a church or people who have left the church know what God is about… it is written on their heart! But unfortunately sometimes Christians (even well-meaning Christians) are a stumbling block to people who are seeking God! Sometimes it is Christians standing in the way of people who are seeking to find God!
Sometimes Christians are NOT willing to give to others the unconditional Love and Grace that God freely gives to ALL of us. Sometimes Christians want the people entering church to jump through hoops and meet with their special conditions, criteria, standards, and beliefs. They believe that the seeker must first meet their requirements to be accepted into the church! This is utterly FALSE! Grace with Preconditions is NOT Grace at all!
We do nothing to deserve, earn, or merit God’s love! We need to remember that God’s Grace is given freely to us!
God welcomes us with open arms where we are and just as we are; no preconditions or hoops to jump through. We need to realize that God will make the changes in the person’s life. By loving us; God brings us closer to Him!
Many of the Unchurched believe that the church is exclusive;
They believe that they are not welcomed into the church because:
· They believe that they are not good enough! (If you had to be “Good” to be able to go to church… all of the churches would be empty!)
· They believe that the church doesn’t want them because of their race, their social/financial status, their sexual orientation, their beliefs, or that they belong to another Faith.
· They believe that the church will be hostel to their beliefs, that they will be judged, and condemned. They are so intimidated that they would be afraid to ask questions.
· They are Unchurched and therefore unfamiliar with Scripture and the Order of Worship in the church. (Order of Worship is often different from one church to another; even of the same denomination!)
People who have never stepped inside a church (people who have never even heard of the name Jesus Christ) know what it "Godly" – "God-Like!" They know in their hearts that:
· God loves them!
· That God loves ALL people!
· That ALL people are the Children of God!
· That God loves ALL people of ALL Faiths!
· That God is for Every One! God is Inclusive; Not Exclusive!
· We know that we are to treat all peoples with respect and compassion!
· That we are to help people in need!
(And that there will be times when we will be in need!)
· That we are to help the poor, feed the hungry, and to care for the sick!
· We know in our hearts that we are to fight INJUSTICE! (The injustice of poverty, war, discrimination, bigotry….
· We also easily recognize Hypocrites! People who say sweet words but their actions deny them. Unfortunately there are people who are well versed in Scripture but they do not lead their lives accordingly to Scripture!
“Watch out for false prophets.
They come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
Matthew 7:15 NIV
Anyone who maligns and distorts the Word of God is a false prophet!
Some of the Unchurched
Are Waiting for the Church to Catch up!
Another reason why some people do not go to church is because they are ahead… out in front of the church in relation to intolerance and condemnation! When they see so-called well-meaning Christians acting badly against others – they know in their hearts that it is WRONG! Many of the people who do not go to church are appalled at the discrimination against gays and lesbians. They are also appalled at the intolerance of people of other faiths; especially Muslims at this time. They know in their hearts that God is a loving God that loves ALL peoples; including people of different faiths and nationalities! Many of these people who do not go to church are waiting for the “Church” to catch up with God’s all-inclusive Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Grace for ALL people!
Why Do People Not Go To Church?
Why Do People Leave Church?
Many people have been refusing to go to church and many have left the church because of some Christian dogma, discrimination, and bigotry:
· Discrimination and Hate of people of other religions other than Christianity.
· Discrimination, bigotry, and Hate against Homosexuals; Gays & Lesbians.
· Discrimination, bigotry, oppression, and Hate against minorities; people of color.
· Subjugation and subservience of Women and Minorities. Self-Righteousness at the expense of others; subjugation.
· Refusal to recognize science. Science that counters Fundamentalist beliefs.
What do people think of Christianity?
· Well in the news (2011) they would know that there are pastors who burn the Quran! Where do you see God’s love in that?
· There are religious groups, which condemn and persecute homosexuals!
Jesus went out to those who were marginalized by society; the poor, the sick, the hungry, tax collectors, and even lepers. Unfortunately gays and lesbians have been the lepers of our society. God reaches out to ALL people; especially to those who are the most vulnerable in our society.
Jesus did strongly admonish the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, self-righteousness, for not serving the poor, and their lack of love, compassion and grace in serving the poor.
· People who do not go to church are appalled at the hypocrisy that can be found in some churches.
People who talk the “good honey-sweet words of Christianity but their “ACTIONS DENY THEM!
They claim to know God,
but their actions, they deny them.
Titus 1:16 NIV
If anyone has material possessions
and sees his brother in need
but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God be in him?
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18
All of the reasons why people
do not go to church
are the very same reasons
why they are needed in the Church.
These people are a part of the puzzle, but they are a “missing piece!” These Unchurched people are badly needed in the Church to make the Church a better place – yet the Church will always be an imperfect place!
What keeps people away from Church?Injustice!
People have used the Bible to justify:
· Persecution of the Jews
· The Subjugation and Subordination of Women
· The Suppression of Minorities: Racism, Bigotry, and Discrimination
· Persecution of Homosexuals
· Persecution of People of Other Faiths
We will take a “Closer Look” at each of these Injustices – See Below:
The Bible should never be used to justify HATE, Persecution, and Bigotry!
Many people who are so-called “Unchurched” people who have never stepped into a church, or have never even heard the name “Jesus Christ”, or people who have left the church, know in their hearts that any hateful persecution of people is NOT the ”Will of God!” People who have never been to church know in their hearts (for it is written on their hearts) that God is
A God of Love; Not a god of hate,
A God of Forgiveness; not a god of condemnation,
A God of Grace; not a god of persecution.
There are some Christians (some of them well meaning) in their self-righteousness and in their narrow-mindedness they deny the Love and Grace, which God bestows, to ALL peoples, to other people.
Their hearts should be filled with Love, Grace, and Forgiveness but their hearts are cold, they lack compassion for others, they persecute those who are at the edge of society, they marginalize, condemn, and persecute people all in the name of god!
HATE, condemnation, and persecution are
NEVER the ”Will of God!”
Many a horrible atrocity has been made in the name of god… God cringes when he hears His Name used in such a blasphemy of hating, justifying, persecuting, and hurting of other peoples.
Scripture through the Holy Spirit guides us to understand the Plans of God – the Will of God. ANYONE can interpret the Bible – Scripture to support ANY of their ideological beliefs and philosophy!
The Greatest Commandment
The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Here is a BOLD statement and it takes a little bit of time and reasoning for it to sink in:)
We have to pick and choose what we believe from the Bible! This is discernment; we must use our best judgment (guided by the Holy Spirit) to honestly and without bias (hard to do) understand what the Scriptures are saying to us - What is the Will of God? What is God's Will; not our will? What are the Plans of God; not our plans? We must realize that our plans are often in opposition to God’s Plans and God’s Will!
(Here is another BOLD statement:)
The writers of the Bible were not writing for us! They were writing for the people of their time! But the Bible truly speaks to us TODAY! First to understand Scripture we must first understand the meanings and purpose of the author and the time, situation, conditions, and the context of the people of the author and the intended recipients.
When Paul was writing to the churches in Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians… Paul was writing to those churches, in his time, for their situations and for their problems and needs! Opinion: I doubt that Paul conceived that his letter to the churches would be canonized into the Christian Bible and that his written words would resonate with people over 2,000 years later!
The Biblical writers wrote for the people of their time! The Biblical writers did not write the Bible for us, but their words still speak to us today! God did not give the Biblical writer dictation on what to say and write. But indeed the Biblical writers were filled with the love and deep devotion to God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and were inspired to write in their words how the Triune God has entered into their life.
Each Biblical writer wrote a thread of what would become our Holy Scriptures, the Bible. But God is the one who wove all of these threads together!
But the Beauty of the Scriptures is that they speak to us profoundly TODAY!
· Persecution of the Jews
· The Subjugate and Subordination of Women
· The Suppression of Minorities: Racism, Bigotry, and Discrimination
· Persecution of Homosexuals
· Persecution of People of Other Faiths We will take a “Closer Look” at each of these Injustices – See Below:
Persecution of the Jews
Through the centuries people have persecuted the Jews for the Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Adolf Hitler, The Klu Klux Klan, White Supremist Groups, Hate Groups, have persecuted the Jews for their FALSE-INTERPRETATIONS of the Biblical Scriptures! They are guided by their own prejudices and NOT by Biblical Truths!
After Jerusalem was conquered by Rome the Roman Empire set-up their own puppet rulers to govern, collect taxes, and keep rebellion squashed.
The Jewish Rulers, Priest, Leaders were an illegitimate corrupt government set up by Rome. The Jewish Priestly Rulers were placed into power by Rome. These Jewish Priestly Rulers installed by Rome were collaborators with the Roman officials. If a Jewish Ruler did not comply with the whims of Rome they would simply be replaced with another more compliant Jewish Priestly Ruler. Many of these illegitimate Rulers worked hard to keep their power, authority, status, wealth, and position (Just like some people do today!)
The Jewish Roman collaborator-Rulers were NOT a representation of Judaism – The Jewish Roman collaborator-Rulers were the representation of the Roman Empire: NOT a representation of the Jewish people!
It is this illegitimate, corrupt, collaborating Jewish Ruler’s government, which persecuted and crucified Jesus Christ…. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the will of Rome; NOT the will of the common Jewish people. The Jewish people had no say in the persecution and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus was killed By the Powers that be of their time.
Unfortunately for centuries misguided people have used their false interpretation of the Bible to promote their will, their hate, bigotry, discrimination, and persecution of Jews.
For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
The Subjugate and Subordination of Women
The Suppression of Minorities: Racism, Bigotry, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Persecution of Homosexuals
What was the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Homosexuality? NO! We are told plainly what the sin of Sodmom and Gomorrah plainly in Ezieiel 16:49:
49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
Ezekiel 16:49 - New International Version (NIV)
9 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
Ezekiel 16:49 - King James Version (KJV)
49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. -
Ezekiel 16:49 - Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
The Sin of Sodmom and Gomorrah was that they were rich cities that ignored the plight of the poor and did nothing to help them!
The Rich and Powerful
believe their wealth and status
qualifies them to sit in judgement
of the poor
rather than to assist them.
“The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
~John Kenneth Galbraith
Jesus Christ reached out to those who were marginalized by society, the poor, the tax collector, lepers, those who were considered to be unclean and were excluded from worship in the Temple. Yes, Jesus reached out to sinners. Jesus went to their homes and ate with them! But even the Woman Caught in Adultery was NOT condemned by Christ!
AWAKENING: Faith, Religion, Christianity is all about “Waking Up” to the reality of God into our everyday lives. From the mundane, to the best of times, to the worst of times the realization that God is “Emanuel,” “God With Us.”
Deny God, Believe it or not, Accept it or not; God Loves YOU…
and there is nothing you can do about it!
AWAKENING is the melting of our stone-cold hearts… Our hearts are melted with God’s Love and Grace. Our hearts are filled with Love and Compassion….
Our greed and self-centeredness are replaced with compassion for others, we find forgiveness and self-worth. Through God’s Grace and Forgiveness we find the power to forgive ourselves and others. We find that we are the Adopted Children of God and that Our Father loves us with unconditional everlasting love.
Our hearts and minds are opened are opened to receive God’s Love and God’s Word. Our eyes are opened beyond our own needs, Our ears are opened to the cries of other people, and we are called into action and deeds. We selflessly give ourselves to as ”Living Sacrifices" to others without seeking or desiring reward… “To Give Without Wanting!”
We are blessed when we are blessings to others!
We need to always remember we did NOTHING to Deserve, NOTHING to Earn, and NOTHING to Merit the Gift’s of God’s Love, Grace, and Blessings! And as God lavishes His Abundant Gifts upon us, we should not be afraid to help others in need when we have the ability to help!
God is calling us not to fear, but to “Wake Up!” “Smell the Roses” and to “Live Life to the Fullest!” We need to value and to restore relationships with God and with one another. God wants YOU to wakeup to the real (but invisible-unseen) reality of God; God is drawing YOU into a closer relationship with Himself.
WAKEUP! Open up your Hearts and Soul. Open up your Mind – Stop putting limitations on God! Open up your Eyes and your Ears! WAKEUP! Then open your mouth and just start talking with God! God is waiting, God is listening, and God Loves YOU!
What are some of the reasons an Unchurched person
should go to church?
· One of the main reasons is that YOU have much to offer! YOU are a part of the puzzle… don’t be a missing piece!
· The church needs YOU!
· The church needs your gifts and your talents.
YOU are needed to help others! People in and outside of church! Remember that God does much (if not most) of His work outside of the church!
· You will be encouraged by people in the church! (And at times you will also suffer setbacks from well-meaning Christians in church.)
· You will also be an encouragement to others!
· You will also be an example (good or bad) for others!
· You will learn more about God through the example of Jesus Christ.
· You will be able to discern and to understand more of what the Bible is speaking to you.
· You are continuously being molded and shaped
by the Hands of God.
You are a “Work in Progress… Under Construction!”
· But most importantly going to church is a path that will take you into a closer relationship with God. You will also have a closer relationship with other believers and non-believers. You become closer to God by becoming closer to other people by loving, serving, and caring for other people!
Please, I ask YOU… take a chance, a leap of Faith… put your fears behind you and go to a church near you! I know how difficult it is to go to church when you have been Unchurched for all of your life. It took me over 40 years to find God and to go to church!
At one time I would have been the last person you would have ever expected to have been seen in church! But that ONE DAY of going to church and fighting my fears has profoundly changed my life forever!!!
Witness Your Faith is my journey (My steps forward and my steps backwards… my successes and my failures.) a Path, a Way, a beginning of building a closer and closer relationship with God!
So far on this Path I have travelled far… but yet I still have a far, far Way to go!
I encourage you to get on the Path… all you have to do is just start (honestly and sincerely) speaking to God. A loving, kind, forgiving God has been patiently waiting for you…
What are you waiting for?
To be sure… “Church” is NOT the only place where we can encounter God.
God does most and some of His best work outside of the church;
out in the world where we live! Yes, God lives in church but more importantly God also lives in your home and in your heart. Sometimes we encounter God when we look into the eyes of children; holding a baby. We may encounter God on an isolated walk, looking at the moon and the stars, or at a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
You can encounter God on your coffee or lunch break, on the bus, in the car, anywhere and everywhere. God’s Prevenient Grace surrounds us ALL, all of the time. God is where YOU are (even right now!)
Yes, church is a wonderful place to encounter God, encounter God with others, to participate with others in “Kingdom Building” making this world a better place to live, and church is a great place to find that you are not alone; a place of encouragement, a safe place of grieving and consoling, and much, much more.
Do you have to go to church to encounter God?
The simple short answer in No! But when you first make the commitment to follow God, a wonderful way to redirect your life, to start anew, to start over is to visit a church until you find a church home, if you will just have enough courage.
Put your Hope, Faith, and Trust in God
and lean not on your own understanding.