I desperately want others to love church the way I love church. I desperately want others to be impacted by church in the way it has impacted me, but recently, I think I discovered why so many people hate church.
According to a study performed by Barna Group, only 2 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 believe attending a church is worthwhile. The study also revealed 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have stopped attending and 35 percent of millennials have an ‘anti-church’ stance.
The statistics staggered me at first. Why do so many young Americans loathe church settings when the majority of Americans still affiliate themselves with the Christian faith?
I grew up in church. With my father as a pastor, it seemed I was at church every time the doors were open. I met my friends at church. The people at church felt like family. I loved church.
After I went away to college and began the process of finding a new church home, my eyes were opened to the reality of the church’s flaws as a whole. I never felt out of place or ignored in church until I was displaced from the familiar walls of my home church.
This is the reality of visitors who step in your church’s doors.
When I was a visitor, I saw cliques and groups of tight-knit friends who did not seem interested in including anyone else, even for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Then, when I traveled back to my familiar church home, I was suddenly aware of the cliques within my home church. People were so comfortable with the friends they found when they began attending church years ago, they did not make any effort to befriend the new faces walking through the church doors.
No wonder so many people hate church.
When a place providing love, support and inclusion becomes a place of division, cliques and exclusive groups, no one in their right mind would want to be a part of it. I certainly would not.
It breaks my heart to see individuals leaving church in droves, but at the same time who can blame them?
I am so thankful to have found a church in my college town where the people are welcoming, encouraging and genuine. I grew up with strong, Christian parents and I am grateful to have Christian role models and a support system away from home. However, many people do not.
Take a hard look at yourself and your church. Have you become so cozy with your church life, your church friends and groups that you have completely forgotten what the church is supposed to be?
Church is not a place of who is right and who is wrong, who has money and who does not or who has been here longer than the rest. Church is more than a social time where you get together with your exclusive friend group.
It is a hospital for the broken. It is a place where the weary can rest, where strangers become brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a place where friends become family and self-righteous opinions are laid aside.
If you relate more to a Christian who comes to church as a social gathering and neglects new faces or turn your nose at opportunities for new relationships –– perhaps you are the problem.
Maybe you are the reason people hate church.