Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Are You Done with Church?

Several days ago I shared a link to a blog post on my Facebook timeline titled, “The Rise of the ‘Done with Church’ Population” by Thom Schultz. The actual blog is at

At first I was surprised by some of the responses. Then my immediate response was “I’m not surprised.”

Rather than respond to everyone who’d commented on Facebook, I felt it better to respond here on my blog, so not to continue a long stream on Facebook. Then everyone who commented or clicked like on the original Facebook post won’t keep getting notifications.

In Thom Schultz’s article, he mentioned that the leavers (for lack of a better term) weren’t new Christians or new members of any certain church. These are people who are done with church, but NOT their faith.

They’re not finding another church somewhere else. The ones leaving are those who were active, doers, who volunteered regularly. As stated in Schultz’s blog, “the church is losing its best.”

After I shared this blog link on Facebook and read the responses, it was from people just like those described in the article. Strong, long-term, seasoned, passionate believers in Christ who are still strong believers in Christ.

I, too am a seasoned believer. I’ve always been involved at some level as a volunteer wherever I went to church. Since 1983, I’ve been a regular member (I don’t like that term, but don’t know what else to call it) in four churches; that’s four churches in 32 years. The prior three churches I attended have since split or simply dissolved.

I’ve been burned out, hurt, disappointed, disillusioned and misled. But I’ve also gained a family, incredible, lifelong friends, grown in my relationship with God, had opportunities to serve Him in various and exciting projects, felt connected and experienced true community. The local church and church at large, is comprised of imperfect people like me.

I’m guilty of pride, judging, partiality, people-pleasing and whatever else turns the unchurched off. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s shameful but true.

But laying my personal thoughts aside for now, in order to respond to this issue, I skimmed the Bible from Acts to 2 Peter, which is full of letters of instruction to the early churches.

We know about the first churches as described in Acts 2:42. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 5 has more about their growth and continuing in power in one accord.

In Romans 12:9-16, it’s clear how Christians are to behave and operate. I Corinthians 12 details spiritual gifts, talents and oneness, even in diversity in the body of Christ.

Much is mentioned in I Corinthians 14 about order in church meetings, focusing on edification.
First Timothy 3 details the qualifications of overseers (deacons and elders) in the churches.
Hebrews 10:24-25 reads, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

For the sake of time, I won’t elaborate because I need to read all this for myself. I encourage you to do the same. It’s clear though that God does have a purpose for His church.  

Have we lost sight of His purpose for the church in America? I think we have. Yet, there is no perfect church or group of believers.

Personally, if I joined the “done” population, I’d miss terribly the fellowship I have with other believers. I need the accountability, friendships, companionship and support. We aren’t meant to do life alone. 

It saddens me that the word “church” has become a bad word.

We have an enemy, the devil, satan. I feel sure that it’s his plan to dismantle the church one person at a time. The church is the very instrument God uses to reach the world.

What would happen to this world if we all became a member of the “done” population? 

What we should do about this obvious growing issue, I don't know. Maybe what we're doing now. 

Talking about it. 

I'm still not ready to join the done population. 
(to leave a comment, click on the comment link below)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve.
We’ve heard over and over how this is the most wonderful time of the year.

For a lot of folks it’s the time of year they simply endure, waiting anxiously for it all to be over. All the hype, commercialism, melancholy and bittersweet emotions that this time of year brings to some.
Or most, for that matter.

This Christmas Eve as I sift through Christmas cards and sympathy cards, I realize this time of year will never be the same for my husband and me. 

I just lost my mom 12 days ago.
My husband lost his mom right before Thanksgiving.

I’m not going to try to craft together impressive words on how to do grief during the holidays.

Many years ago, my divorce was final two weeks before Thanksgiving. I entered that holiday season trying to navigate unknown waters into the single parent life.

I got through it. Not on any merit of my own though.

Surviving the holidays as a newly divorced, single mom could only be done through God’s precious, intimate compassion that He poured out in my life during that time. That’s how He responded to my tearful pleas.

God’s response to any child of His far exceeds how we respond to our children or grandchildren. When they’re hurt and crying, we rush to their side, scoop them up speaking tender words of comfort and immediately do whatever it takes to bring healing, no matter how big or small.

When I first got the news about my mom, I didn’t immediately draw near to God and let Him do what I know He desired to do, which was to bring me comfort and peace. I withdrew from having quiet time with Him for days. All I could think was how untimely her death is; how I didn’t get to say goodbye or have any last moments with her. I questioned Him as to why He took her when He did.

By doing this I was making it all about me, which never turns out well.

So, longing for the comfort and peace I’m so familiar with that comes from God, I turned to His word, as well as my mom’s worn and tattered A.A. Reflections devotional.

Pouring over the pages where she’d highlighted, underlined and written brief thoughts began my healing. That is the first of many things God has poured into my lap to bring comfort as I continue drawing near to Him in my grief.

I know the holidays will never be the same. But I also know that this time of year is STILL the most wonderful time of the year because it marks Jesus’ birth and life, being the greatest gift ever given.

That will NEVER change. And because of that, no grief or pain will overtake me as I hide myself in Him. It is possible to have joy, peace and comfort during difficult times, not just at this time of year but all year long.

If you have a personal hurt or grief that this time of year only intensifies, joy, comfort and peace can be yours too.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3.
Rather than pull away from Him, we can draw near to the God who saves, who is near and who will heal.

Then we can celebrate Christmas and this time of year with joy, peace and comfort, instead of simply enduring it.
Finding comfort during the most wonderful time of the year,