Sunday, September 26, 2010

There's Something Missing

I'm not often moved by a piece at the following blog, but Frank Turk at Pyromaniacs posted a letter he wrote to the Southern Baptist Convention detailing his family's search for a church after having to move for economic reasons.  After searching for several years, and attending dozens of SBC churches, they settled into one outside of the SBC.  His letter calls attention to a few things missing in the churches he tried out: leadership, ministry, seriousness, community, theology and Jesus Christ.

Focusing for a moment on the section of his letter that deals with lack of community, Frank writes:

Which also brings up another important issue: because our view of leadership is a business-based model, and our view of ministry is both pragmatic and simplistic, and we have traded seriousness and sincere forthrightness for anything else that will hold people’s attention, we have no communities. Isn’t it ironic that we have medium- and large-sized social institutions which we can run with competent ability, but all that competence and professionalism really has put us in a place where the people involved don’t even really know each other?

How tragic.  But of course, Frank's not close to being alone in lamenting these sad situations.  The corporate mentality of bureaucracy and programs have neglected and alienated many Christians.  Many are leaving churches and not returning.  Many are trying different forms of church and community.  Maybe the old wineskins are bursting and God is making new wineskins to hold the new wine.  Whatever the case, searching through old wineskins to find something new is a daunting task.  God help us.


  1. But, Steve,

    Is the solution to stay out of church?

    What happens to the those who have young kids, and "are leaving churches and not returning," when their kids grow up and have no desire to attend church? Perhaps that unintended consequence should be a consideration. I've thought this through many a time when my attitude has been less than positive, and have concluded that since I know that God and Jesus are real, then I must continue on the straight and narrow so that, at the very least, I can be an example to my kids. Because, in the end, I want them to know Jesus and worship Him--despite being in a church that isn't perfect.


  2. Cathy,

    I'm not sure what the solution is, and I think it may be different for each person/famliy. I personally wouldn't advise anybody to leave their church as that would have to be their own decision. I'm just trying to recognize reality and know of people who have left churches.

    As for those with children who grow up having no desire to attend church because their parents didn't, I don't think that's much worse that what is happening today on a grand scale. That is, children who have attended church with their families their whole lives, and when they grow up have no desire to attend church, because the church has meant absolutely nothing to their lives. Having a "form" of godliness, but no power. Children need to see much, much more than mere church attendance to be affected in a positive way. I understand your conviction, but at the same time I know that your life is about much more than mere church attendance, and the results are obviously positive.

    If God and Jesus are real, then I think he will provide for his own, however that happens. Things are less than perfect for most people, as it is for us. Maybe I'm being a bit too picky here, but there's a line between "less than perfect" and "unacceptable." I pray both for the former and for the ability to make that work in life. The ability isn't always there for a lot of people.

  3. While I totally buy into that God will preserve His own, we still have a responsibility to our kids to have a walk w/God, and try to nurture theirs.

    So, I don't agree that kids who have left the church (and while there are many, until they're dead, you don't know what will happen--I actually think that's a straw man you've erected) is on the same par as those whose parents, while supposedly knowing Christ, never encouraged them to have a walk w/Christ because they were too upset w/the system.

    Look, I may not agree w/everything a church does (I shouldn't, anyway, else I would be in lockstep, and I don't think that's healthy), but I try not to tear down or be overly critical to my kids. I may get over my beef, but they may not.

    I still love ya, though--even if I AM a Giant hater!


  4. C,

    I understand why what I said might look like a straw man argument. I don't think it is because I was pitting people who settle for mere church attendance and believe it will be an affective witness to their kids (It isn't. Barna and many others are showing this) and people who set a good Christian example to their children while not always "attending church." The difference is that there are people who nurture their children in spite of a mere existence of church attendance.

    We are to seek his kingdom first. Many people are dropping out of the "institutional" church (or insert whatever name you wish) for something different, and many are finding or creating those things. Assembling together doesn't necessarily mean gathering in a way that certain people think is the only way to gather. I may have a problem with many systems, but I don't have a problem with the system the bible set up. I want to try to do what I can to see that system exist.

    I'm sure there are parents who don't encourage their children because they have a problem with a system, but there are many who do encourage them regardless of what system (or none) they are part of.

    God desires us to assemble with others (Heb 10:25a), but he also desires certain things to happen when we do (Heb 10:24 & 25b). If those things are missing, especially by design, then simply assembling for the sake of assembling doesn't have much value because that's not what God has us assembling for.

  5. Great points all around. This is a trend I have also seen for at least the past 10 years (but has been existing much longer).

    But the people leaving part is the part that intrigues me...maybe there is a change coming in the next generation? I sure hope so, as it stands, church frustrates me to the same degree as the person that wrote that letter.

  6. My letter frustrated you, societyvs? Why, pray tell?

    Hey, Steve, no "Friday Night Potpourri?" I love reading it, and I can almost always count on it being there.

    Maybe you were too busy mourning last night's Giants loss!