Why church is irrelevant, and what to do about it

Yesterday and the day before I attended training by Partners in Depression, a new initiative which is setting up support groups in every state of our country to educate and equip carers of depression sufferers. The course was absolutely tremendous and I’ll tell you more in the days to come.

Today I wanted to tell you that I subscribe to communications guru Tim Schraeder’s updates and I just can’t say it any better!

“I’m sorry to say it so harshly but it’s true… no one cares about your church. Look at recent polls, church attendance, or even watch the news and it’s fairly obvious… people don’t care about the church or what we have to say anymore. Here’s what he had to say recently:

We’ve lost credibility for some legitimate reasons. And don’t chalk me up to being a church basher, I passionately care about the church, I’m just saying what’s true and what some of us might not want to admit.

The Church has moved from the center of our Western culture and while some fight to keep it in the public square others of us are realizing the greatest way we can impact culture is by being on the periphery.

Christianity at its core has always been about counter-cultural, so why in the world do we try to be perceived as being relevant by looking just like the culture around us?

We’ve cheapened the Gospel by trying to be accepted at a great cost. The emerging generation can see right through the charade. We’ve created a machine out of what was always meant to be a movement.

We’ve organized something that was meant to be organic. We’ve franchised something that was meant to be localized. We’ve put CEOs in the seats of what was meant to be a spiritual office and treated salvation like a commodity. We made an idol out of our methods.

And to try and fix everything we’ve thought marketing it to look like a cheap version of everything else in culture was a good idea. Here’s two truths: people don’t like the church and people don’t trust advertising. Why use a mechanism people don’t trust to promote something they don’t care about?

I’m not trying to paint a picture of gloom and doom, I am just saying it how it is. I have great hope for the Church and believe that it does matter and believe the church has a great future ahead of it… we’ve just got to make some adjustments.

I think we have a great new opportunity to reintroduce Jesus, the Gospel and the Church to a world and culture that has been weary of what they’ve seen and heard. The next generation is tired of gimmicks they want something real and authentic. They want to be known. They want community. They want a sense of belonging. They want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. They want to be significant.

They want to be a part of the Church they read about in Acts but have only seen poor reflections of in today’s world. More than anything they want to give themselves to cause that is greater than they are.

Why do you think movements like TOMS Shoes, To Write Love on Her Arms, LIVESTRONG, charity: water, the one campaign or any of the big social movements that are out there today exist and have so much popularity? They are all doing great work and doing tremendous good, yes. But they are telling a compelling story. They are giving people the opportunity to make a difference. They give people the chance to do something that matters. They are sadly, doing the work the church has been neglecting.

When you really care about what people care about things happen. When churches rally around the needs of their communities and are actually outward focused, truly living for something outside of themselves, that’s when change happens and that is when the church matters in culture.

To truly care about the things that matter to people is to truly live out the Gospel. God is all about people. And what matters to people matters to God. We’ve been too focused on ourselves, our numbers, our growth, our success, and at the expense of a generation that’s looking for a cause to believe in and give themselves to.

I can’t think of a better cause to give my life to than the cause of the local church and I think while we live in a culture that doesn’t care about church we have an amazing opportunity to redefine what church means and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

When we sing or pray the words break my heart for what breaks Yours, we are really asking God to allow us the opportunity to see the world through His eyes. We’ll never earn the right to be heard in culture by screaming on street corners or by having a slick ad campaign. We earn the right to be heard by caring about the things that people care about and ultimately the things the move the heart of God.

Stop trying to promote and market your church. It hasn’t been working and it won’t. Stop trying to make people care about something they’ve already decided isn’t worth their time or attention. Start listening. Start looking around you. Listen to the cries of people in your community and start responding with the love of Christ. See through His eyes. Earn the right to be heard. Be Jesus hands and feet. Do good. Care about what people care about. Be Jesus and the Church to your community.

The Church isn’t an organization or a building, it’s people. When you truly care about what people care about and prove it, people will care about you and what you have to say.”

Thanks for saying it so well Tim!

subscribe to email updates from TimSchraeder.com


7 Responses

  1. Great Post. I forwarded it to my husband, the Pastor.

  2. hope you don’t get an ear bashing liv…. I’ve posted this on my FB page and a couple of pastors on there have been pretty defensive. Just clarify that Tim is talking about the institution NOT the people.

    And of course he is talking in generalisations without being paranoid enough to continually qualify and support his statements which would be tedious indeed.

    • No ear bashings on my end. You articulated my (and my husband’s) heart in way I have not been able to. Keep blogging, keep talking . . . and thank you.

  3. Hmm. I don’t know where to begin on this one.

    I’ve tried to go back to church a few times. Different churches. To date, it has always amounted to this:

    The Church (the institution) has developed a mindset, which involves a unique lexicon. Coupled with a dogma that is self-referencing.

    It has taken a while for me to realize this. To understand my own sense of frustration the minute I walk in the door. There is a heigtened communal expectation: you ARE going to smile and you ARE going to say exactly the right words, or you will not be accepted, much less included. If you do not meet expectations, you will be immediately categorized as: 1) a sinner who needs to come to God; or 2) a backslidden wayward son.

    There apparently is no room for those who believe that God has imprinted Himself on all of mankind, and not just those who’ve chirped the Four Spiritual Laws. And we gasp in horror at the notion that even the atheist scientist who, for various reasons cannot bring himself to believe in God, has been likewise imprinted. Please ignore the fact that we *say* that no one knows the heart of a man, except God. I mean, we believe it. We just don’t, you know, BELIEVE it. ‘Cause we’re pretty sure that atheist is doomed to hell forever.

    Doesn’t matter that he once believed but was sexually abused and in his need to blame someone, decided to blame God, which resulted in his later choice to disbelieve.

    Doesn’t matter that his heart is just as Jesus opined was important. Doesn’t matter that he loves his fellow man, and that he loves nature; and that he just can’t bring himself to believe the version of God that he equates with misery and darkness. None of that matters. He has professed disbelief, therefore he must be shunned.

    This is an example (not my own) of the circular frustration that I encounter when entering most churches. Hence, the reason I’ve stayed away.

    I’ve discovered, for one thing, that I don’t know nearly as much about God as I once thought. I’ve learned that the lesson of Job has *much* more to say to me than most of what I”ve experienced sitting in a pew. Especially those portions of scripture near the end of the book where God is speaking, asking Job and his friends if they really think they know how things work. (Note that their arguments to Job closely mimic the way so many churched people say and think today. And that God calls them on it)

    Job’s response to God is similar to my own: I will shut my mouth, and listen. 🙂

    I think perhaps that was one of my biggest sins as well: thinking that because I belonged to this exclusive club, I had a heads up on all knowledge of God. There were hard and fast rules, and these rules were comfortable and secure. There was absolutely no room in my experience to discover that someone who happened to smoke and drink and even sleep with a woman he wasn’t married to, could *possibly* belong to God. And people who masturbated? Oh dear Lord – it’s the fire for them for sure. Despite the fact that God created our spiritual, physical and sexual selves. And that it wasn’t all just about procreation.

    Ugh. This is your blog and I don’t want to create a mini-blog by soapboxing it to kingdom come. 🙂

    I just think that the church as a whole needs to reevaluate itself. Its words, the way it thinks; in what it feels is important (as Tim discusses). And it – we – need to grow in humility; understanding that God’s scope is far larger than our own. We need to embrace the thought that there is no “us” and “them” ultimately -except for those that God himself – not us – deems as such.

    I could go on. But I’ll stop now. *grin*

  4. Fantastic post WS. I write this blog to find people like you! I guess I’m trying to understand the problem so we can come up with some solutions in the hope that church will change for the better – hopefully anytime soon would be good! Thanks for sharing your experience

  5. I know I’m almost a month late in commenting on this, but sometimes life just gets busy.

    The comments you quote from Tim are pretty spot on to how I feel about the organized church. Really, honestly, in my eyes the organized church is another corporation. Fill the seats, stack the keywords, make your sales (which I equate to the numerous donations).

    Not to say the “sales” involved aren’t going to a good cause.

    At any rate. I’ve redefined what I feel a church is. Most of my life ‘a church’ has been a building. Then ‘the church’ was the organized religion of Christianity.

    Now… A church is where I worship (be it inside a building or outside). The church is the collection of individuals I’ve encountered who share my faith. We as individuals care about what people care about. I don’t have to go to an official service to pray to God.

    Anyways, there you have my two cents. I hope you’re doing well, Jack.

  6. […] Yesterday and the day before I attended training by Partners in Depression, a new initiative which is setting up support groups in every state of our country to educate and equip carers of depression sufferers. The course was absolutely tremendous and I'll tell you more in the days to come. Today I wanted to tell you that I subscribe to communications guru Tim Schraeder's updates and I just can't say it any better! "I’m sorry to say it so harshly … Read More […]

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