Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Radio Dialogue - Day Five

Following is the script we used for our WWIB "Reflections" program.

Remy: Welcome back for our last show where we are talking about why people don't attend church. Christine Ruth has joined me once again. Welcome, Christine.

Christine: Thanks Remy. I've enjoyed being here this week. Remy, I told you my story yesterday about why I quit going to church and explored Buddhism. What's your story?

Remy: I actually quit going to church twice. The first time was when most people quit going to church, right after confirmation! Confirmation seems to be the church equivalent to graduation. We take our classes, graduate and then move on to bigger and better things - at least that's what we think. At the time, church made no sense. God wasn't personal to me or my family, so it was a family decision.

Christine: Okay, that's one. What was the second time?

Remy; the second time was after I became a Christian and been in church for about twelve years. The church I was a part of went through a split. It really disillusioned me. I tried going back to church because I believe in the church but I could barely sit through a service. I felt sick inside.

Christine: Why was that?

Remy: Well, I gave that a lot of thought. It just all seemed so hollow. So fake. Everything being said was just words to me. I was really devastated. I had invested a lot of my life in the church and I felt betrayed. I didn't lose my faith in God but I lost a lot of faith in church people and the church as an institution. Every few months I'd try to go to church but the feeling didn't change. That went on for five years until I was finally able to settle back into the life of a church.

Christine: So Remy, after your experience and all that we've talked about this week, what's your conclusion? What is the bottome line? What do you think will bring people back to church?

Remy: Christine, I really believe that when the church preaches the good news – the news that God accepts us unconditionally and empowers us to live a new life – a transformed life - then people will come. Everyone on the planet is looking for acceptance and the power to live a transformed life. We've got the news that everyone wants to hear. When we learn how to not only proclaim it, but proclaim it in the language and the method that people can hear, then we won't have to worry about people attending church. They'll be lining up to get in.
Hey, Christine, thanks for joining me this week. And thanks for all of you listeners. I hope you’ll visit us at Cedarbrook this summer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Radio Dialogue - Day Four

Following is the manuscript for our WWIB "Reflections" show.


Remy; Okay, if you are joining us for the first time, I'm here with Christine Ruth and we are talking about why people don't attend church.

Christine, so far we've mentioned three reasons why people don't attend church. What are they?

1. People want to be engaged in a discussion or conversation and not simply told what to think.
2. People are busy and use Sunday morning to either relax or work.
3. People have had a bad experience.

Remy: Well, you told me that you quit going to church for a while. Why was that? Didn't you grow up in the church?

Christine: I think another way the church has done a disservice to my generation is to somehow making us feel like once we become Christians, there’s no room left for doubt or questioning. I grew up in a committed Christian home where my parents did everything “by the book” when it came to raising us up in the faith. But when left for college, I went through a very deep period of questioning and doubt. I began studying world religions, especially Buddhism and Taoism. One day, I called home to announce to my parents that I was no longer Christian, but Buddhist!

Remy: Wow. What did they say to that? Did you blow them out of the water?

Christine: No. They did something very courageous. For the next year, they just listened to me and asked me questions without overreacting, even though I’m sure they were terrified inside. A couple years later, I recommitted myself to my Christian faith in a much deeper way.

Remy: So, do you regret that time spent in Buddhism or was it a good experience for you?

Christine: I believe that time of doubt and wrestling not only gave my faith much “stronger legs” to stand on, but it has allowed me to get into very thoughtful and empathetic discussions with many of my non-Christian friends, many of whom seem to gravitating today more towards Eastern religions than Christianity. Frederick Buechner wrote in his book, Wishful Thinking, “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” I think the church needs to be a place where people are committed, not to giving simple, black-and-white answers to difficult questions, but a place where we can come alongside one another as fellow pilgrims on a journey. It should be a place where doubt can open our eyes and lead us to a deeper reexamining of our beliefs.

Remy: So doubt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can see how God has used it in your life. Thanks for sharing that. Maybe tomorrow I'll tell my own story.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Radio Dialogue - Day Three

Following is the manuscript we used for this week's "Reflections" program on WWIB radio.

Remy; Welcome to our third day of discussing why people don't attend church. Christine Ruth is my guest today, one of the teachers at Cedarbrook Church. Christine, before we started Cedarbrook Church I did a survey of the churches in Dunn County and it looked like only 25% of the people attended church on a regular basis. Isn't that amazing?
Christine: Yes. As we've been discussing the past two days, it seems like the church is losing it's audience. Remy, we've talked about this a little, but why do you think that is?
Remy: Well, you brought up a good point yesterday, that younger people like to be engaged in a conversation and not just be told what to think. I think that's key. But there are a few other reasons.

Christine: Like what?
Remy: One is very practical. People are busier and work more hours than ever before and Sunday morning is the only time for people to kick back and relax or catch up on their to-do list. The biggest competition for any church isn't the church down the street but the Sunday morning paper and a cup of coffee. It's hard to compete with that!
Christine: So, you're saying that if the church is going to compete they have to offer something that's worth adding another thing to their schedule.
Remy: Exactly. The mature believer will go to church to worship and fellowship with other believers. But the seeker won’t go unless they can walk away with a sense that they made a connection with God and learned something practical that they can use in their life – like how to raise their kids better or how to deal with their stress. I think it’s important that we address these practical needs for people as well.
Christine: Remy, I think you do a really good job of that. It’s pretty common for me to sit around the coffee shop after church for an hour or so on Sunday with my friends just discussing the sermon. Even at my Thursday Mom’s group we are still talking about it. Okay, what’s another reason people don’t go to church?
Remy: Another reason is that people have had a bad experience with church. I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard from people over the years. You wouldn't believe all the things that have been said and done in the name of Jesus. It just turns people off.
Christine: What are some examples?
Remy: The two biggest offenses I hear about are when churches consistently ask for money – even beg for it - or try to control the details of people’s lives. People don’t want any part of that.
Christine: Any more?
Remy: Yes, but we are out of time so let's talk about those tomorrow.