My Norwegian Artist husband was raised in a small church attached to a big denomination, and throughout his childhood he heard about the promised Revival, with a capital R, of God:
It was always about to happen, just on the verge of exploding. But for some reason, unless a big-name evangelist deigned to appear in a nearby large town’s football stadium, it just didn’t manifest itself.
Perhaps the saints weren’t praying hard enough. Or God just wasn’t ready yet. Whatever it was, the Revival was always something in the future.
Whatever a Revival is, however, we are in the midst something that looks like one now — an extremely quiet, persistent movement that mimics a leak in a water tank, drawing liquid away from the container and into the earth. And while this isn’t a good thing for the person owning the container, it does wonders for the parched ground receiving the moisture.
The Revival that we are experiencing today involves the leaving, one by one and family by family, of people from the conventional weekly church establishment. Too many people are simply leaving, disappointed and discouraged by the increasingly corporate nature of what calls itself the body of Christ, but convinced that this is, at base, what Christianity is.
“God, and Christianity, are not the answer,” they conclude.
But others, and I and my family are among them, have left to find God. Totally done with trying to fit in, wondering if there is more to the Christian experience than becoming the Deaconess of Baby Showers or the Deacon of Weekly Lawn Maintenance, we are exasperated at being labeled “difficult” for asking questions, “cold” because we are bored by Sunday School, “not an intentional member of the community” (is that in the Bible?) because went to the park with our family last Saturday, as opposed to participating in Church Work Day.
For whatever reason, and each person’s experience is different, more and more people are departing, which is why those who are left behind are exhorted, strongly, to stay there.
But weekly church service is not a commandment, “corporate worship” not a requirement to achieve closeness with God. And as important as “correct church doctrine” is trumpeted to be vital to maintain a healthy Christian community, one would have to ask, “So which doctrine is correct? Must we speak in tongues to prove that we have the Holy Spirit, or not? If we are not baptized, do we go to hell? Is it true that those who worship on Sunday violate God’s law, and isn’t the whole point of Jesus that we aren’t bound by that law anymore? So why are there so many rules?
“And will God really reject us if our neckline plunge is too steep, and too low?”
If “correct church doctrine” is in danger of being contravened by those who leave the conventional church environment, it would be nice if those concerned about its demise put forth a succinct and unified list of these appropriate beliefs so the rest of us would know when we are breaking them.
Better yet, let’s forgo that — it sounds too much like a one-world, global religion, and those of us who are ordinary know how well the globalized economy works for regular people. A One World Order mandating how we believe isn’t a particularly good, and certainly not God-ordained, idea.
People are leaving, people. It is not so much a reflection upon their belief in God as it is evidence that they have this belief, and they are not finding it strengthened, encouraged, nourished, and cultivated in the settings that they are abandoning.
While it’s easy to point to a Leaver and say, “That person has no heart for God; otherwise he would be here looking for him,” very few people, especially in leadership, actually ask former weekly church attenders why they left. The truth isn’t particularly complimentary to the status quo.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you,” God says in Jeremiah 29:12-13.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
That’s what people are doing. Some of them do it within what we call a church setting, and they thrive there. Others, however, balk at what they consider a system, and insist that they didn’t follow Jesus to then be required to second guess, and follow, a list of rules — rules that vary depending upon the church body, the denomination, and whoever happens to be leading their particular group.
These are the people who are leaving. They are not weak, they are not backslidden, they are not apostates, they are not quarrelsome dissenters dissatisfied because they can’t find the perfect church — believe me, they know that such a thing doesn’t exist.
They are seekers — asking, seeking, knocking, walking, insistent upon finding the God of love and acceptance that they are told, repeatedly, exists and wants to have a relationship with them. And they’ll go where they can find Him.
This post is linked to A Little R and R, Shine, Arabah Joy, Rebecca, Christian Mom Blogger, Create with Joy, Hearts for Home, Thought Provoking, Tell It Tuesdays, My Joy-Filled Life, Soul Survival, Motivate, Good Morning, A Look at the Book