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



I’ve turned the corner.

I thought not to write on it for a few weeks to see if recovery would regress but it hasn’t.

One day (literally) I woke up and my feelings of grief were gone. They just went. I remember talking to a pastor’s wife down south who had suffered with depression for years. She said that one day it just lifted – just like that. I always had her story in the back of my mind and wondered if one day, that would happen to me. I wasn’t banking on it though… after all, her “one day” came after years of suffering terribly.

I put it down to a meeting I had with my psych. As we discussed what had happened to me church-wise and my dreams and vision for what church could be like, she suggested that my dream would have never come about had I stayed. We live in a region of 30,000 in a semi rural conservative anglo culture where people still grow their own potatoes in their yards and make tomato relish. It would never have been fair on the church if I had continued to pursue my creative, innovative, Gen X, postmodern community ideals of the New Testament church in the 21st century. Something had to give. She believes I still may see my dream, but it just won’t be here and now. After thinking about that for a couple of days, I realised she was right. And when that realization happened, grief departed.

It sounds like magic. It definitely feels like magic. Whatever it is, I’m so grateful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, would put it down to the effectiveness of CBT. I’m not a huge fan, but it is an effective treatment for depression.

Anyway, for last three weeks or so, I haven’t had any feelings of grief, sadness or hurt. I feel quite calm really. I still have major misgivings at the way I was excluded from the church I sowed my life into for fifteen years and gave so much blood, sweat and tears, but that’s a separate issue – certainly not a clinical one.

And I’ve started a new job, which I’ll tell you about soon. The only thing I’m wary of, is the possibility of life returning to the way it was pre-depression. That might sound strange, but I never wanted to get back to the way things were. I always wanted to be transformed by my experience, not just to get over it. More on that another day.