Remy: Welcome back to our discussion of Why People Don't Attend Church. I've got Christine Ruth with me, one of the teachers at Cedarbrook Church. We noted yesterday that only 20% of people in their 20's are attending church.
Christine, yesterday I quoted from Erwin McManus, another pastor who said that "the Christian faith, as we express it, is no longer a viable option" for many people. He's taking a shot at how we communicate our message - saying that people have lost interest. Why do you think that is?
Christine: I think my generation sees becoming a Christian less as an event and more as a process- a journey spanning one’s whole lifetime. I think of Martin Luther who said that baptism isn’t one-time event, but a daily process – that every day, we must, in a sense, wake up and volunteer for death, so that Christ can raise us up to new life once again.
One of the things that has surprised me on my Christian journey is the discovery that the more I study the Bible, the more I realize I know nothing – how BIG the mystery of God is. I think Scripture was inappropriately presented to me as a “how-to manual” or a “rule book” that would provide black-and-white answers to all of my questions. The trite way in which some of my Christian mentors tried to respond to my questions put God into this small little box that eventually strangled my faith. I wish church leaders were more comfortable humbly admitting that there’s a lot of paradox and mystery in Scripture and that they would feel comfortable resting in the ambiguities they find there.
Remy: I agree. As a speaker, it's a challenge to preach truth without coming across as simplistic - like – “you don't have to think about this, just believe what I say”. That approach may have worked for my generation and older, but today people want to come to their own conclusions. People today aren’t looking to be converted. They are looking for a conversation. They have their own ideas about God and they want their ideas to be respected even though they may be wrong. I don’t know if we’ve done a good job of listening to people in the church. We tend to just tell them what to think.
Christine: And I’m looking for honesty too. As a seeker, I want to know that YOU wrestle too, instead of feeling like you own the corner on the market of spiritual truth. I was taught that the Bible would answer all my questions about life. But I don’t think that’s true. It’s not that black and white. Now I realize that the Bible point me to the God who is bigger than all of my questions and promises that if I seek Him, I will find him.
Remy: Thanks Christine. Let's pick this conversation up tomorrow as we look at more reasons why people don't attend church.