Why I’ve Run From Churches

September 3, 2008 by

Let me start by saying that I have been planted in my current church for over 10 years. I deeply believe in the value of staying in the church that God plants you in rather than just leaving as soon as you get offended. That said, I have lived in a few different cities and have visited quite a few churches in each one when trying to find out where to land. I have seen some wonderful things and I have seen some things that made me want to run for the doors. These are the things that caused me to run for the door:

Everything was mediocre.
Mediocrity has been too prevalent in the church today. Be it marketing, music, teaching, evangelism or anything else, it should be excellent. Just a few hundred years ago the greatest music, paintings, literature, etc. were glorifying God. It offends me that the word “Christian” is used as an adjective that is synonymous with mediocre by some non-Christians. It should not be.

The place was full of strife.
The Bible has some very strong things to say about strife and it also says that they will know that we are Christians by the love that we have for one another (John 13:35).

Back-biting, selfish-ambition and gossip are things that I expect to see on a soap-opera, not in my church. I realize that people are not perfect and that everyone makes a mistake, but when I see strife as a defining characteristic of a church it makes me want to look elsewhere.

There was an unwillingness to adapt.
Paul became all things to all people in order that he could win them. I am reminded of a church near me that built a state-of-the-art skate park in order to give a young and notoriously rebellious generation a place to skate—all in order to win them to Jesus.

Another church I know of created a haunted house to compete with all the others during the Halloween season. The house shows the scariest thing—hell. It then shows the visitors Jesus and why he died. It is top-notch and thousands of people wait in line for hours each year to get in.

They tickled the ears of the congregation.
There are a lot of people who do not want to be challenged in their faith walk. They want what they believe preached to them, rather than having the truth preached to them. It is easy for churches to get caught up in just trying to keep the congregation happy rather than speaking the truth of the Bible.

The real truth is that churches like this are doing a tremendous disservice to the kingdom of God and to the congregants themselves. The congregants who refuse to grow end up hanging around, while the hungry Christians take off to some place where they can have the unfiltered truth spoken to them.

It is not led with passion.
I want to follow a leader who believes what he is saying. Someone who is not just speaking words that he read, but rather speaking with truths that have changed his life and the corresponding passion that follows.

It is impossible for someone to truly be passionate about something that they are not sure about. I want to follow a leader who has seen God work in his life and who has seen the Word change him in real and practical ways.

Final thoughts
There is a new breed that is rebelling against the self-satisfying lifestyles they see all around them. They are eager to be challenged and are willing to lay down their lives for the call. This provides a great opportunity for churches to step up and create a church they want to go to.

Post By:

Bob Lotich

Bob has been a member of a non-denominational church for over 10 years and has a passion to see Christians live life to the fullest. He helps people get out of debt and manage their money with a Biblical perspective at Christian Personal Finance.com.
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11 Responses to “Why I’ve Run From Churches”

  • Scott Fillmer
    September 3, 2008

    Good points in this article… I think there is a bit of a change going on with the points you made, but you do have to be in the right place. I totally agree with “Everything was mediocre” I hate that. We are and should be just as professional and sharp as anything out there.

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  • Jon Stallings
    September 3, 2008

    Hi Scott,
    Great comments, but here are some of my thoughts.
    Mediocrity – Excellence is important but what is the purpose and the end result? Churches often get caught up in striving for excellence and wind up burning out their people and burning up all their money with all the programs. Sometimes we just need to keep it simple.
    Adaptation – The church must be careful when adapting to the things of this world. A church with a haunted house? People lined up for hours? How many people are getting saved and being discipled on an ongoing basis because of this event? How many kids go home and have nightmares? I am no theologian but I am not aware of very many instances where the Apostles or Jesus preached about hell in order to get people saved. There are many areas the church can adapt to reach the lost, but in the end the church should influence the culture, not the other way around.

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  • Heath
    September 3, 2008

    Great note! Excellent points! I am with you on each one.

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  • Bob Lotich
    September 3, 2008

    I am in complete agreement with you about your point regarding mediocrity, if it is just an excercise not to be mediocre – rather than with the end in mind of getting souls then there may be a problem. My frustration with mediocrity in the church is when IT gets in the way of souls…
    I do also agree with you on the 2nd point, but just not as much ;)
    Obviously, the church is supposed to be different, but still in the World, just not of it. Yea, the haunted house thing isn’t for every church, but bottom line it is something God is using. Billy Graham is a great evangelist, but his call isn’t to disciple new believers- that is someone else’s call who may not be called to full time evangelism.
    My point here is each christian, minister, church has a different call and we should do our best to find out what that is and do it.

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  • Bob Lotich
    September 3, 2008

    I just realized I addressed Scott – sorry Scott, I meant to say that to Jon…

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  • Jermayn Parker
    September 3, 2008

    Jon, I know the church who use the “horror house” them for hallowean and two points I would like to raise in defense to what you asked. 1) there is an age restriction and they watch much worse and scarier stuff on tv every night. 2) After each session, they have a time for follow up and to recieve salvation.
    I agree that winning people (salvation) is the MOST IMPORTANT factor for any church BUT i think just preaching to empty seats does not work. You must bring the church to the people. If thats via a skate park, do it.
    The early Christians went to the markets, churches etc to do excatly that.

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  • Jermayn Parker
    September 3, 2008

    btw in my last sentence I meant “temples” instead of churches..

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  • Nick Gill
    September 4, 2008

    Contentment with mediocrity never glorifies God. We may aim for excellence and only attain mediocrity, and thus honor God with the excellence of our striving.
    However, we must take care to excel in things that matter – compassion, justice, mercy, beauty, spirituality.

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  • Jesse Phillips
    September 4, 2008

    I take issue with the mediocrity thing. What the world classifies as excellent, we don’t have the money to do. We’re doing the best we can (not me personally, I mean we the small churches of America).
    The world may like an awesome graphical bulletin (I’m a designer, I LOVE graphic design and HATE clip art, but Jesus doesn’t), but we may not be able to produce that, or afford to.
    God cares how we spend our money, and Jesus doesn’t care about the outward appearance, but how we love and serve people, and disciple people to do the same. So, I’m wary of saying we need to be all excellent, when we’re not getting the most important thing right: loving our neighbor, and being known for that.
    I’d much rather be known for being loving and selfless but being cheezy, then being known for having cool bulletins, programs, rock concert worship, but little love and being selfish.
    I feel like we’re known for the second one right now.

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  • doug
    September 4, 2008

    Jesse, you make an interesting point about mediocrity… I don’t really think excellence means fancy bulletins, lighting, staging, etc.
    I think the point is that excellence or not being mediocre doesn’t have to be expensive, excellence can be simple. Excellence can be a specially prepared and delivered sermon with a song that matches it. Maybe it means practicing the flow of service so that things transition smoothly. There are lots of things that can build excellence without costing a fortune. It just takes some extra thought to produce excellence… Not just throwing something together, might be excellent enough.

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  • Scott in Vegas
    September 5, 2008

    Excellance can be simple, and still be excellant. In fact, sometimes less is more, especially went that “less” is done well.
    Scott in Vegas
    http://www.newchurchreport.com – New Church Report
    http://cells-twelves.blogspot.com – Expectation Blog

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