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?


  1. …I join you in the tired. But…….let’s keep exploring! 🙂 And I welcome doing that with you, Andy!!!

  2. Braner, you’re right on! In a sense, I’ve quit church, but I’m finding Jesus. And in finding Jesus I’m finding how wrong I’ve been for so long. Homogenous gatherings, manufactured experiences, messages on self management/improvement and simply mixed packaging of redundant religion pressuring to fit in are lacking so much. Have we missed Jesus in favor for manageable community, safely reinforcing our status quo?

    I sat down to read Matthew today and got stuck on Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 where in both places Jesus responds to Pharisees that were missing the boat. He quotes Hosea 6:6 saying, “I desire compassion and not a sacrifice.” or “I desire mercy and not a sacrifice.” Is relationship implicit in compassion and mercy?. Can they exist without it?

    Jesus worked so hard to shake the religious of his day out of their ingrained habits and their religion. And they missed it. Let us not miss it.

    Man, you’re on point! Where will a commitment to following Jesus take us?

  3. I’m not saying you’re wrong, and I will say I don’t agree. My thoughts aren’t well researched, they’re just my thoughts. I think one of our biggest problems is that we’ve lost sight of the enemy. The enemy isn’t the church, or the pastors who run them. The enemy remains Satan, and if he can use Christian’s disdain of the church to help tear it apart, what a win for him!

    To say, “Jesus wasn’t even a Christian” is definitionally ridiculous. The implication is that he wasn’t a Christian because of his disapproval of the church. He wasn’t a Christian because he invented it. Christianity is the obedience to Jesus’ command to “Follow me.” Those who followed him were labeled Christians.

    Yes, he did live in a small community of 12…preparing them to speak to the multitudes and to have thousands join their cause daily, and to feed thousands. He didn’t say to find 12 friends and isolate yourself with them, never gathering together with more than that.

    Jesus was about people, regardless of their past. And he was also about taking a stand for the truth, not about making everyone feel that they were ok doing whatever it was they wanted to do. He called for people to change, and to repent, and to have their eyes opened. He never said we all just love each other and let each other do whatever we want.

    Remember when he said “I am THE way,” when he told Peter to “Get away from me, Satan,” when he said not everyone who calls on my name will be saved? Can you imagine a preacher or teacher saying that today? Just because you say you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re going to heaven? He’d be shamed for being so exclusive and unloving and self righteous.

    I sat in church this morning (yes, I still attend church regularly) and thought a ton about your article. Yes, there are lots of rules and order in church. God put lots of rules on His people, too. As Chesterton writes, “The chief end of the rules and order is to allow all of God’s goodness to run wild.”

    Church isn’t perfect. The truth that many Christians have made non-churched people the enemy rather than Satan is a given. I just can’t agree with the new philosophy to abandon church to find God. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Let’s gather together in His name. I think we need to stop painting church or religion as some irrelevant oppressive enemy and figure out how to get back to the religion that Jesus headed up.

    1. Matt, thanks for the comment. THIS IS THE KIND OF DISCUSSION I’m interested in having. Let’s go there and see what we can come up with. If we can keep it civil and make sure we are focused on the issue instead of battling one another, this can be fruitful for the world to see. Let’s do this.

      I agree, the enemy isn’t pastors, churches, or people who run them. Jesus loves people. So I’m not against people. What I’m trying to say is, when man puts in the rules and takes his eyes off the gospel (JESUS) then we form a system where man can put Jesus in a box and control him. I think people are leaving what we see in modern church because we’ve hijacked Jesus to fit our own way of thinking. He’s the center, not us, not our system, not our tradition, just Jesus.

      Jesus didn’t invent Christian. Official Christian didn’t come around until Constantine in the 300’s at the council of NiCEA. That’s where it became official. Before that, followers were called ‘The Way.” i.e. “I am the Way the Truth and the Life….”

      I agree with you on the thousands deal, but he was sure to make himself known by a small group and not try to appeal to the thousands. So the question is…”Do we have our own 12?” Or are we regulating our faith to a Sunday morning hour of meeting with thousands. If we’re not intentional it will never happen.

      “He never said we all just love each other…” Well, actually…Matthew 22:37-40

      I agree on the next point…too many followers are focused on the easy way. We need a bit of a challenge, and I think that’s another reason the 30 and unders are leaving. If I have the choice to play golf with my friends or sit in a “nice” talk on Sunday…I’m going golfing.

      I’m not saying abandon the church. I’m saying reform. We need to get back to the true gospel apart from Religion. Maybe we can call ourselves “The Way” and focus on following Jesus only….

      So I guess we’re 5 agree and 2 disagree. That’s not bad for people who believe in the same God. There are 2500 different denominations in America today and over 7000 churches in Denver alone. So, let’s call this one a win, and work through our disagreements.

      Thanks again Matt. Awesome stuff.

      1. 5-2 is a good record…I’ll take it. Without church as we currently know it, where is the best way to equip people to share God’s love? Think how many 1000’s of kids will be introduced to Jesus at VBS camps across the country the next few weeks. I trust in most churches they really will be introduced to Jesus, and not just Western religion.
        I wonder if the under 30’s are leaving the church because we’ve tried to become too relevant rather than taking a stand. Is the rock and roll church with the hip pastors accepting everyone and everything what is really driving people away? Do they want something and someone who is strong, who believes in something and is willing to stand for that?
        I get it gets slippery here as not accepting can become condemning really quickly. Is it possible (that’s a real question I don’t have the answer to) to welcome everyone without accepting all actions and lifestyles and beliefs?
        All the condemnation of Caitlyn Jenner isn’t doing Jesus any favors…and yet it’s right to not embrace that. Jesus doesn’t embrace sin, he calls it out. I think God even destroyed whole cities living immorally. Is there a way to take a stand against this without shaming an individual?
        I guess I’ve been privileged to attend churches who really were about Jesus and not about the religion.
        Rather than abandon the church, I wish more young people would recognize they ARE the church. Having a tight community is so key, and so foreign to so many, and I hope that the purpose of that community is to impact the masses.
        I don’t have any answers, and I have never walked in your shoes and had your experiences, and I love my church and what it does for my family and my kids.

      2. That’s Beautiful!!! Of course we may be entering in a higher percentage of agreement now.

        There’s no doubt VBS and programs like that have value of introducing people to Jesus. However, I think it would be interesting to see who is actually going to VBS. (it’s kind of a tough thing to look at with kids) But most of those types of programs attract people who are already supposed to be following Jesus. So where are the conversations and programs for the kids who would never come to a program like that? Maybe that’s our beginning place for finding the “new” wineskin where we can re-invent the current model to be more Jesus centric, instead of religion centric.

        Of course this relevant way of looking at faith is discouraging people from following Jesus. After all, if all I have to do is sign a card, raise my hand, and give a few bucks in the plate when it passes by, that’s radically different from learning to “Love my enemies…” Agreed.

        The Caitlyn Jenner thing is a prime example. When do we stop the barrage of judgement to care for someone who is obviously struggling with everything we know to be true and right about the world around us. I’m less concerned that Jenner is becoming a woman, and more concerned with the state of affairs in his/her life. What causes someone to go to such lengths to find meaning? I think Jesus can help there. Christianity…not so much.

        I’m not saying we abandon church. I’m saying we take the bold steps to follow Jesus in our church. How do we engage with Jesus and kick over the golden calfs we thing have to make up church? I believe whole heartedly that your church has given you plenty of reason to keep attending, or else why would you keep going. That’s not the point. The point is…how can we draw closer to Jesus and distance ourselves from the places that we’ve created to be additions to his message. Jesus + Nothing else….I wonder what that would look like, and how we would respond.

        GREAT conversation.

  4. I’m with you til you say, “But Jesus.” Because maybe the Jesusist thing we could do is just forget about Jesus. As soon as you “But…” anything, it just sounds like the same old wine skins.

    Even now, I feel like I should invoke Jesus to legitimize what I’m saying. But I don’t want to. I don’t think he’d like that 😉

  5. I completely agree!! I went to Kanakuk many years ago and since then I have wanted something larger than what the world is trying to play as “Christianity”. I recently was condemned and accused by my pastor in a “hip, up and coming” church for things that are not even biblical. I have been trying to figure what is the next step? I don’t want to just show up on a Sunday, I want to Go and Be the church just as Jesus. But I am so stuck in how does this look? My husband and I are curious of your thoughts on what step 1 would look like to abstaining a true- Christ looking faith and life style. Is it starting outside of the church, meeting in a home, in the outdoors? Just praying for understanding and longing to see Jesus move in today’s world, amidst religion.

  6. As of 2014, there were 4200 recognized religions.

    Which one is right?

    MY religion is right & the 4199 others are wrong.

    All hail POSEIDON !!!!!

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