The Latest surveys about America and Religion have startled the status quo. Leaders of the Christian Faith are reeling that only 70% of America is still in the fold. And what’s crazier than that, 30% of 30 and unders have left all religion entirely. If that doesn’t shake the walls of the modern American Church, I don’t know what will. Anyone with any sort of future vision for what we know of Christianity today should be worried sick about traditional Christian Religion. But hey…that might not be that bad.
As we saw immediately after the release of the surveys, ,many will try to demonize the report call the findings inconsistent with their own surveys, and try to conjure up a feeling that the world is still spinning like it was yesterday.
For those of us who know better, IT’S a New Day. The world isn’t spinning as usual, and there’s some really interesting things happening in and around faith circles. Some are finding new life, while others are finding the long cold reality that religion just isn’t working.
Tired of Religion
There’s been several people who’ve come out against religion as it stands today. Ask them why, and you’ll find a myriad of answers. They’re tired of structure, they don’t want to be beholden to rules and regulations, and they’re definitely tired of the human tradition that’s been overlain the faith.
The detractors will say, “But we have to have a place where we can gather and worship. So what do you call that? It may not be perfect, but it’s the best we got.”
Well, the best we got has to go. It’s not working.
New churches are popping up all over the country, and each new pastor thinks he has the answer to this free fall of people leaving the faith. And what’s crazy…each pastor looks exactly the same, with the same old wineskins, and the same old style.
They rent out a school, a movie theater, or a strip mall.
They spend an inordinate amount of money on lights, smoke, and sound.
They hire a band of sorts.
The messages are given in the context of series of self-help.
They all look the same.
And we’re still leaving in droves.
If you find yourself in a place where you identify with the 30 and unders, and you too are tired of religion…Well…ME TOO!
Relationship not Religion
So the answer many will use to get around this crazy trend is, “Well, we want a relationship with God, not a Religion.” And I find this statement compelling, that is; until I walk into another building, with another sermon, with another rock band, and what’s really happening is some sort of bait and switch.
The same underlying problem is evident, but we’ve just masked it with different language. It’s not about anything different except the religious idols that we bowed to in a different building, in a different costume, with a different order of service.
They’ve still formed a club
There’s still tremendous pressure to fit in
There’s a lot of talk of Grace, but very few places to find it
Love is a word on the walls, but when called on to LOVE ALL; it goes mistakenly un-noticed
We still like people who look like us, talk like us, believe like us, and above all live like we choose to live.
When are we going to STOP?
When is it time to recognize this religion wasn’t what Jesus was all about here on the planet.
Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion.
Jesus wasn’t even “Christian.”
He didn’t set the stage for the gatherings we do today.
Jesus was about the radical difference between the religion of the day, and the people He came to heal. He came for all people, not just those who resemble your style of worship.
Don’t get me wrong, He loves you dearly, but He also loves those who we keep at arm’s length for whatever reason under the sun.
So What are we supposed to do?
The short answer is…I don’t know.
What I do know….
Jesus was about living together in a small community of 12.
Jesus was about fellowship
Jesus was about breaking bread
Jesus was about healing
Jesus was about the Kingdom of God
Jesus was about faith
Jesus was about people, no matter who they are or where they come from
As I sit here in my office on a cold rainy Colorado afternoon, I’m thinking about how in the world we can re-capture the message of Jesus outside of the boundaries we’ve created for him to live in. I’m wondering if there’s even a place where we can be true disciples of Jesus without trying to control him. What would the world look like if we adopted the teachings of Jesus, and stuck to them, even when they are in conflict with some of our teachings we think are important?
I believe Jesus is about Loving God, Loving Others, and Loving Ourselves. I believe He is the best source for relationship that I know.
How we do this? I have no idea. But I’m committed to trying to lift up Jesus, and see what Happens.
Tired of Religion? Me too. I’m committed to following Jesus, wherever that takes me.
What do you think?