In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time

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Jesus says the harvest is plenty and laborers are few. If we as a church would get better at apprenticing people at where they are at to do church or be the church means of more value than the institution. Meaning my barber was done with church due to the stares and glares from what he has in his shop.

Since I have been going there, he has welcomed me to come and have studies at his shop. It may surprise some of you to know that the Lord never commanded us to build a building. He commanded us to go out and preach the gospel. Am I against a building to gather? I can not and should not expect people to walk into a church building.

Instead, we have to do ministry like Jesus. Meeting people in their house, at the market place, train stations, schools and even in their temples is what me and my family do. We need to focus on Christianity…not churchianity. Christianity is doing church like Jesus did. Churchianity is doing church with human ideals. Church is not a place we go to. I have seen the spiritual gifts in operation in my own life according to those listed in 1st Corinthians 12! Our Lord gave churches a report card, so to speak, in Revelation ch. His feedback centered on whether the churches were doing the kinds of things that revealed the desire to further HIS kingdom.

If we really were acting as his hands, eyes, ears, heart, etc. But, imperfect humans that we all are, we tend to make it about us. Spiritual warfare What I am hearing again and again in this comment section is a Western cultural mindset that we cannot recognize has so deeply grasped the Christian community. We are consumers and we like options, that is why attendance is down.

If we were not so free in this country and spiritual community was a rare commodity, maybe our desire to be with the people of God flawed though they are would be so very important to us. Since we have different church options, online options, podcasts, books and streaming sermons from all of our celebrity pastors, why in the world should be plod off to our little community church? How very American of us. With church attendance in rapid decline and skepticism in religious institutions increasing, recent revelations about the behavior of […].

Even though this post is 3 years old, I definitely want to weigh in. I love the church, the body of Christ, but I am struggling with Western church, the institution right now. I have 2 graduate degrees from seminary and am starting a 3rd in Christian apologetics. I know all the reasons I need to remain connected to the local body and long for that healthy connection, yet we have been without a home church for almost a year now.

We moved to our area 8 years ago, and it took us 6 months to find a church home. We were in that church for 3 years, and felt led to join a small church plant that was engaged in heavy outreach ministry in our city. That experience led to some startling and deep wounds through spiritual and leadership abuse; a story that does not bear repeating here. We returned to our original church, worked through forgiveness, and there we stayed until last year. First, I had always struggled because our church was an AG church and there are certain AG tenets that I find to be extrabiblical or not scripturally accurate, and that continued to present a stumbling block for me.

Second, there was increasing compromise in areas of leadership and a lack of sound financial stewardship, and these factors together resulted in our search for a new church home. I am the hindrance in this search more so than my husband, because while I do full understand and realize that the church is full of broken and fallible people, and that no church is perfect, it seems difficult in our geographic area to find a doctrinally sound church that is committed to teaching the explicit Word of God and engaging in genuine discipleship. These churches do exist, because we have been part of them before in other states.

I am still looking, as we have not visited every single church in the area. The weight of the burden of NOT being in church is keenly felt in our home. It sounds like church shopping because it is. Everyone does it to some extent, whether you are shopping until you feel lead to become a part, or you call it shopping until you think you fit in or have something to offer. With respect, I think we over spiritualize in the church too much and this is one thing that turns many off. We need to be bringing our hurts, hang ups and problems to the loving arms of people in the church who will love us and who in return we can love.

Christ talked to people about their problems, even His own as he faced the end in the garden and asked His disciples to pray for Him. Back to church hopping and I hate It! I so want to belong to Godly Loving church that feels like family instead of a dreadful place to go each week. Debbie, I was a part of a Christian church for decades and loved them like family.

Anyway, it was going great the first few years. There was good fellowship and worship and the Word was always preached. I respect the pastors authority. I stayed a few more weeks. Then, God said to wipe the dust off my feet and leave. This was once a church that was touching the community in positive ways. I so much miss the fellowship there. At one church the pastor, supposed to be a Christian pastor, mixed Christianity with New Age phrases and teachings, and did it more than once, so I had no choice but to leave, in spite of the fact that I was determined to make sure I was correct before I just left.

My beloved sister, I hear you loud and clear. What is your situation now? Have you found a church home? If not, what is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about where you are to fellowship? During my journey, I went from church to church. I was comfortable in my Baptist church. There are times that God will cause such a hunger and thirst after HIM that we become uncomfortable. Who would have thought?!

I prayed and asked God to plant me where HE wanted me to be. Be encouraged, my sister. You will find that place where God has made room for your gifts and your heart. His word says that your gifts will make room for you and bring you before great people. That may not look the way you think. It just might be outside of the traditional box, but it will be just for you. Charlene, I hope you realize your friend, Dr.

Mack, is more like a witch doctor than a Christian. Excellent way of telling, and good piece of writjng to take data about my presentation topic, which i am going to convey in institution of hgher education. Come home discouraged and overwhelmed. Start the week all over again, utterly depressed.

The most God wants from you is to believe in Jesus His only begotten Son , and to just talk with Him and have fellowship with Him. His yoke is easy …the yoke He referred to was His teaching. Take a Sunday off! The church does not come first. You and your relationship with Him comes first. There are wellsprings of living water just waiting to flood out of you Maria. He loves you so much. At the present you feel like Martha but Mary within you just wants to be at His feet. He wants you at His feet because He has a call on your life and has so much to tell you.

I have prayed and spoken that the Holy Spirit will bring ministry to you and whilst nothing essentially will needfully change physically although it might you will know a freedom in your spirit you have hitherto not experienced. I declare favor on your life and healing for that broken part of your heart. He hasnt showed me what it is …just that He knows and He is healing it as you open your hands and give it to Him. Has just occurred to me that there are some youtube ministries you should watch.


By the way …it is not my habit to write randomly like this! I am a mother, and 3 years ago I was physically and mentally burnt out with life. What I found was hyper activity and noise. All I wanted was to rest. I stopped going because I would come home from church and feel so unfulfilled and even more tired. To me the church became a clanging noise. I wanted to go to church to rest in the presence of the Lord, to pray and to be still. But I could never do that at church.

I was desperately in need for something. I know that people will say that you can find rest in Him at home in your own time, but the truth is that my home situation was not good at the time and there was no rest or peace in the home. I knew that not going to church was not a good thing. I know that the Lord wants me to be in a church and in fellowship with other believers. The high you get and then the low that comes right after. Anyway long story shortened, My mother and sister had been going to the Catholic Church for a while now, and they would ask me to go with them.

I would always say no. And that she felt rest. After hearing this for over a year, and seeing the fruit in her life and the peace that she had, I wanted to go. I finally found that rest and peace I was looking for. Did I find it in the Church itself? You see, the whole service is centered on Jesus. I go there, and the songs, the scripture, the message is all on who Jesus is, What He did for us, and how we can have communion with Him.

Communion with the Lord. I was able to say simple prayers to Jesus during mass. I could focus my mind on the Lord, and present HIm my needs, without all this loud background noise that probably causes ADD as the Evangelical churches have. Since I have been attending mass for over 6 months now, I have had a deeper revelation of who Jesus is and I have a deeper communion with Him. I have had a deeper revelation of the Cross and the significance of it. How it is a gift from God, and that there is nothing I can do to earn Salvation I have walked in a greater grace from the Lord.

Everyday I pray for His grace and mercy and that He leads me.

I read the Bible and pray without it being a burden. He wants me to come to Him in my need, my pain, my sorrow, my shame, my joys all of it. I bring it to Him and lay it at His feet and He carries me. Going to mass each Sunday is not a burden at all.

In Conversation With God: Volume 5, Weeks

I feel so fulfilled after I go. My week is also more orderly and I feel I have more of His grace for the week. I have not become a Catholic. Am I going to become Catholic? If the Lord is leading me in that direction then I will follow. Also, the Lord has softened my heart towards the protestant church, and tells me not to judge His people. Anyway, sorry for the long message, I just read your post and it sounded like me a few years ago.

So maybe you should try mass. It seems what you are seeking, is what believers hunger for, the scriptures, and what unbelievers seek but do not yet know that they seek it. If you do come across this post. I would really enjoy to talk more with you. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Here are 10 reasons why. Higher engagement in our churches means people are more regularly interacting with the church. And if we the Church are modeling our lives after Christ, then those who are engaged with us at church gatherings should naturally be growing to become more like Jesus and less like themselves.

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Or maybe he just came to your church to be polite. So, overall churches should never tell another person what they need or what they should want in a church. Everyone will some day need to answer to God on their judgment day, but it does not mean they need to answer to every random member in a congregation.

I know that from my experience with people in church is that they get into small talk, but never want to take time to have real conversations. Get to know a person first! Without fishing for information, find out five things about a person, and make the effort to remember. I feel that people have a much better association with people when they take the time to know the person and learn about his interests and concerns.

MACK myself. He actually did it for me just as I read about him on the internet. He is worth giving a try. He is well Known all over the world, especially in restoring broken Marriage and relationship. You can contact Dr. Although attendance is not the goal or mission of our church, it is an important part of who we […]. I have a strange twist on 4 in my current location — many families with young children and both parents work non-traditional jobs read not so the children are not in day care.

This changes Sunday worship attendance, leadership involvement, ongoing spiritual formation groups, and Bible study. I also agree with other commenters about it not always being about affluence. Thanks be to God that He is in control. Now, to lean into Him and listen for direction … creative direction and the guts to take the risks. I agree! The church staff also mailed a letter to my home, stating how much I contributed monetarily in I felt insulted and discouraged.

My relationship with Jesus is very strong and will continue. Feelings come and go and change all the time. Many people today are lazy and want everything done for them. Jesus said he hid the mysteries of the Gospel for us not from us. Also as far as the statement for charitable contributions.

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If you feel insulted or discouraged try giving more and doing more. My wife and I have been regular church attenders to a fault and engaged to a fault for the first 41 of our 43 years of married life and for the years prior to our marriage. Sunday morning 9AM and 11AM services are well-attended. Your request for avoiding a rant is difficult to define in terms of where the boundary is between being negative and a rant.

I have come to this page twice and walked away because what I was about to write had and has a degree of negativity. So, at the risk of being un-positive, I will be forthright. That discussion usually comes to no real conclusions. The preaching content is solid but the last 25 minutes of the 45 minutes is unnerving. I often retreat to the car to wait out the intense sound levels but I can still follow along in the car parked some distance away. I often come home after the service with frayed nerves and the unanswered question about what to do.

Our daughter and husband ask similar questions about why they go to church services even though they are more-than fully-engaged in their church. And, my worship is really how I live my days; not my regular attendance where I am merely a spectator. I believe that for many decades we have gone to church for other than ideal or preferable reasons. The methods have changed but painting the house a new color has not addressed the problem of the broken windows. Good news is, He does! But it may not be where we think. Carey is right that the Church has become an institution, at least in our part of the world.

This is not the way God intended it. He is in the process of judging all of our institutions — government, media, education, business, and the Church included. There is another reason people are attending church less often, that Carey left out. They meet in living rooms, restaurants, abandoned offices and store fronts. They do not affiliate with a denomination, but come from a wide array of church backgrounds — or none at all. They do not even apply for a c3. These are deeply committed Christians who have rejected the pull of all worldly enticements and distractions.

These are people who love God with all their hearts, spend hours alone with Him daily, are doing the work of the ministry in the communities around them, and operate in supernatural signs and wonders like the early Church did. These are not, by any means, the worldly Christians Carey described above who stopped attending church because of the pressures of modern life.

Perhaps Christians like these are sensing the Church in general is still in the shallow end. They want to go much deeper.


Deep calls to deep. These people represent a very large remnant — in the millions. They have sensed that God has shifted from the Church age to the Kingdom age in preparation for the last days harvest — and that the comfortable Church, in general, has not transitioned from the traditions of men and religious attitudes of limiting God in their denominational box. They need like-minded, called Christians to help carry out their assignments.

They know this is no time to sit in the pew or in Sunday School with canned lessons from Lifeway or Cokesbury. These elementary teachings were of great value during the milk stages of growth in the Church age. But the same lifelong church members have been sucking on this milk, some for 50 years or more, completely unchanged. The Lord is calling His Church to go higher — be the Church He called us to be — without spot or wrinkle — sin or flesh. Does the Church look like that now? To be known by the world for their love for one another. We fight each other! To take care of the widows, orphans, hungry, sick, hurting, and bring them into the family of God — with signs and wonders following.

Not by just taking up an offering for missionaries overseas — that has always been important and will be in the days to come. But He wants us to do our own mission work right here at home — actually doing it ourselves, getting our hands dirty, right in our own neighborhoods, cities and towns. We have been sending out missionaries to all the world and neglecting discipling our own brothers in Christ and the lost right here at home. We should not be surprised that they have slipped away as they have! All these things Christ commanded us to do are not happening at most churches.

And the world knows phony when they see it — especially youth, who are the largest group to leave the Church. These changes must take place with His people, as Jesus said they would before the last days harvest.

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  • And yes, there are already millions that have a passion to track with what He is doing in the earth now — some of them are still in hiding, faithfully hanging on for dear life in stagnant, dead and worldly churches, hoping to find a place where they can somehow fit in to His plan. Within a few years we will not recognize the Church as we know it today.

    God Himself will close the doors of dead churches that quench Holy Spirit — many already have closed. He is judging His Church for becoming a worldly institution. He will spew the lukewarm out of His mouth. Meaning He cannot use them in His plan on the earth. No, they are not considered lost. God will not lose this last days battle for souls. We must be ready to give an answer for the Hope that we have.

    The drop in church attendance is for a reason. We are in, not just a new season but, a new age! We are living in the most exciting times the earth has ever seen. My jaw just dropped because you said in such Amazing and Eloquent Words Exactly how I have been feeling for the past few years node but did not know how to say it! I have tons of chronic health issues that keep me struggling daily to hang in there and no freinds or family around, states away. But I Love the Lord more than Anything and have grown spiritually very close in my walk and relationship with Him!

    My kids are not able to grow there either when they have other kids in the church bullying them or talking trash behind their backs and blowing them off just like their parents. The only contact I really get is with some Christian Truthers on YouTube… Thank- You for your great insights you shared with this comment, and by the way how in the world would I find these like minded people that meet up in my local area that you mentioned outside of the church buildings???

    God Bless You in Mighty Ways! I have to agree with this. In Acts of the Apostles we read where the disciples met for worship on the Sabbath, but there is no mention of meeting on Sunday for regular worship. If this was done it would not be hidden, for the Jews would have violently opposed it. What God commanded stands for ever. I can give many Bible verses to support this. The devil has always wanted man to disobey God. He was successful with Adam and Eve, and now he wants to deceive the whole world. We need contenders for the faith participants in worship not simply attenders spectators of worship.

    Read through some articles. One thing not mentioned, unless addressed elsewhere, is the idea of churches doing away with multiple services. Most churches used to meet Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Plus a few prayer meetings from time to time. With a shift in work culture, many businesses and emergency services like Fire, Medical, Police, Mental health, Patient care, Corrections, are 24 hour jobs.

    This requires shift work. Shift workers often work nights and weekends. Imagine working midnight until 8 in the morning. Would you go to church on Sunday at 10 or ? Would you be awake enough to get anything out of it? What about those who get off at 8 AM Sunday but then have to work at midnight? What about if their days off are in the middle of the week? I work law enforcement and my wife works in the mental health field. Oh they may have groups but these meet usually on Sunday night and only for 6 to 8 weeks at a time. So Shift workers get ignored by most churches in America. I lived in several states and this is the new trend in churches.

    I wonder what Jesus thinks about ministers abandoning a whole segment of the population for convenience sake? I mean why are many places building seat, seat buildings and then only using it one day a week for barely 90 minutes? Why are people giving to that? It helps no one but the average family with money.

    When we bring this issue up with pastors they just shrug it off. It is become a business only open one day a week…. IMO, most of the reasons listed for declining attendance by committed church attenders are mistaken. There are two reasons listed that are significant — online options and self-directed spirituality. People actually want and need the truth and the loving encouragement, exhortation, and, yes, even rebuke to be fed and grow spiritually.

    I think this problem lies at both ends of the spectrum: MTD and PC of thr left and neo-pharisaism of the mean-spirited religious right. The Church doors are just a convience that God provides to make our lives easier to gather because Jews still went to the Synagogues and believers gathered were ever they could. Use us, is an understatement. Most importantly church manages to make boring and pedestrian the gospel… how one takes awesomeness of Jesus and reduces it so, is mind boggling. I agree..

    I go to church to participate in Worship and not just sit like a bump on a log. We need to get rid of worship teams and choirs. This comment is dead on. While I am a committed and highly involved member of my church, so much of what we do is geared to performance by professionals — choir, worship leader, pastor. Most modern churches are designed to prevent the average person in the pews from being involved in a truly meaningful way — they are just supposed to be passive, obedient servants who follow the dictates of their spiritual betters.

    This is so wrong, and such a violation of scripture. Guilt , Shame and disappointment is their main motivational sermons and what mind boggling is that they disguise it through out the sermon in scriptural precepts and everyone sees right through this, Church is no longer spiritually safe. But I experienced more unkindness from this Church and hard to warm up to group, ever. I have 5 kids, and recently had to miss 5 out of 6 consecutive weeks of church because we had a round of colds going through the house.

    I would have been happy to take them late and just go to the service, but we only have one car and my husband teaches Sunday School, so I ended up staying home with the sick-kid-of-the-week. I know in our case, our son absolutely hates going to our youth group because he is not being included. He was being excluded because of costs. We were paying for his non-church friends to go to activities with him so he would have a friend at the activities.

    Our two former youth ministers just did not get the other kids to include those on the fringes. Plain and simple. Several other friends of ours went through the same thing with their kids. We even talked to the youth ministers. Very frustrating! Our son was close to being baptized, now he wants nothing to do with church, who excludes him. The same old programs unfulfilled endless small groups and programs.

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    They expect people to be in Church when it should be the Church going out to them and most of your Christian people are not to intelligent why would the world would want to come to Church except a very small few, when they hate us as they did Christ. Many Christians, I hate to admit this are lazy! When people leave Church is not always because they leave Christ, they leave Church to find Christ. We are currently working on a monthly newsletter and we would like your permission to have the first few sentences of this article with a link to your website included in the newsletter.

    Our newsletter is a way to encourage our ministers with our own blogs and with articles that we believe could be an effective ministry tool for them. But, the average church attendee only makes it to church twice a month. So on any given Sunday, you are missing one-half to two-thirds of the people who you want to hear […]. A youth group […]. We have lost our authenticity, our message, our purpose, and our depth. Therefore, we try every gimmick in the book including some that are so over the top they are too embarrassing to mention.

    So, people are leaving it. I know this not only from personal experience, but from the countless number of people I have spoken with concerning this very issue. So… 1 Stop treating church like a business. I agree with Marc. I have witnessed that even in the church we planted a few years ago. To go back to the reasons people leave, I suggest testing the core of the matter by asking the affluent, travelers, blended families and others listed under reasons for less church attendance why they really stay away.

    I carve out time that I keep guarded to ensure my family gets my attention and I get theirs so we can be there for each other, relate, love, share. When we make attendance, growth rates and other KPI part of the motivation, we run a business. While measuring is good to assess shifts and look for reasons, it is an entirely different subject to make such items the goal. Attend daily chapel time was required.

    Now that same College want to build mature adults. To attend chapel is not required anymore. I was on campus of that College. During meals I asked students which church they attend. I will not forget that one guy who could not give me an answer, since he attends very irregular any church. The negative influence of that former Bible College shows its fruits. RE: 8. Worship is about God … right? There was no Gospel. And since it is the Gospel that is power of God unto salvation, there was a lot of false conversions that took place.

    So many churches that were made up of uncovered members, saw those unconverted members become unconverted leaders, who replicated the process and made disciples of themselves rather than disciples of Jesus. This is an extremely judgmental and frankly wrong assumption. It jumps right to the worst case and lumps everyone in the fallen away camp. Even churches in the Bible are social gatherings where fellowship is the central exercise of worship.

    Many people hunger and thirst for righteousness but find themselves put off by different churches for various reasons. We are seeing a falling away from the centrality of Sunday morning services as a regular practice. Even in my household, we attend once or twice a month, but are in regular fellowship with believers and exercising our spiritual gifts encouraging and blessing other believers and the unbelievers in our community. Do we miss church when not there? Are we backsliders because we are not weekly attenders? On the 9th point, I think this is probably the biggest reason we see decline.

    If that is happening something is off. If your measuring success by the of new people walking through the front door and not recognizing the ones walking out the back, you have a problem. I am finding that all church services in my district are getting earlier and earlier, and that in an elderly community! Attract youth is the catch cry, but the youth are still fast asleep after their hectic Saturday night traditional night out!

    I suspect that some of the reasons are to get the Church over and done with and have the rest of the day off for all sorts of recreational activities. What ever happened to the 11am service which was common in farming communities, and the 7pm Gospel service in pre Television days.? That is just one reason…each of the commentators has presented valid information. We talk not stop about Church growth….. We tolerate sin. We care little that friends and family are not saved, because we vaguely think they will make it somehow without Christ.

    They think that all roads lead to Heaven. There was a time in our not so distant past that most companies would be completely closed on Sundays. Since then the cost of living has gone up, but wages have stagnated, and it now takes 2 people to finance a family. So now, not only is work available on a Sunday, but in most cases is necessary to keep a family going.

    Very true. I love in Houston and shift work is a curse with the blessing. Most of those working on Sundays have to but others choose to for extra money over Jesus. For a small church like ours working on weekends — and all the other reasons he stated correctly, especially the sports one — is just eroding us and our ability to fulfill the vision and mission. Modern life is so busy and hectic these days. I have a pretty ordinary job, but I commute into London every day and am absolutely shattered by the weekend. I try to make Sunday service a priority out of the two meetings a week the other one is a fellowship group Thursday nights but the service starts at 9.

    That is life in ! We need to stop guilt tripping people about attendance stats and get with the times. Have one service on a Sunday instead of 3, or if you have more than one, cater to different audiences rather than expecting the same people to be at everything. Have bible study group every other week. I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest….

    Ten years ago, my wife and I worked from home, and we home schooled our two sons. Fast forward ten years. My wife has a business that requires her to work until 9 pm every evening, and she leaves town 1 or 2 weekends per month. My oldest son often works Sunday mornings, and my youngest son works 6 days a week starting at 7 am. Sunday is the ONLY day of the week he can get some extra sleep. He is 17 years old and is totally exhausted by the time the weekend comes.

    Sunday morning is basically the worst time for all of us to try to do anything together. What I would give to see our church have Saturday evening service, or Sunday evening service! Seriously, I think the church needs to do a little soul searching of its own…. I agree this is s key point. Also both adults work and usually in jobs that used to be separate employees. The schedules now for school, work, and extra curricular activities are no longer aligned either.

    Schedules change weekly even and these things together make life much more exhausting and stressful and people often say they are simply exhausted and Sunday is it. Now the schedules are not like this and travel is required if you want to play for school sports. I do see lots of travel for families on weekends beyond just holidays and that is also a HUGE factor in the baby boomer core of our churches. I think we are onto a lot in this article but missing some of the main almost unsolveable portions. Another thing is any play for kids has to be scheduled and kids have no social or play time in school anymore…no more go outside and play with friends in the neighborhood due to: crazy schedules!

    That is another key. Related to 5 I think the rise of social media substituting for face to face interaction that you would get at a local church. Churches fail to preach the pure Word of God, seeking to tickle the ears of the people. I dont attend church, because the people there still my fire. None of them want to really talk about God or his kingdom. Its just great message and how ya been.

    Or do you want to do lunch, or can your kids go to the movies with ours tonight, or so and so is having a football party, or the church picnic is next week. Or wanna go golfing… and at any of these that you attend its sad how far God is from there hearts. The mere mention of his word in the literal meaning could quickly make you a party pooper or outsider.

    Church has become like the world, you know the same world we are told to come out of. The same world that is at war with God. Its quite sad. I have to remember to pray for men, hard to do, but I do. It is a struggle and the LORD does send refreshment time to time. Just makes me desire Christ all the more. Stay true and stay loving, looking to His second coming! I think people are attending church less because they are not getting anything out of it. They come and hear some singing, hear a message, give their money and leave.

    You hardly ever see small groups anymore. The Pastors seem so far removed from the congregation. They come in only to preach their message and then they go back to their plush offices immediately after. I am saddened and burdened at what I see happening in the church. There are so many gifted and talented people sitting in the congregation but no one is taking time out to find out what their gifts and callings are anymore. Now we have praise teams.

    The Season after Pentecost: “Ordinary Time”

    A few individuals who are designated to LEAD the congregation in worship. Therefore, it comes across as entertainment not ministry. I pray the church gets back to the model that Jesus wants for his Bride because clearly what we see today is NOT it. Every Sunday they talk about how they can appeal to young affluent families and how the influential families have moved out of the neighborhood leaving renters and old people. I am working middle class old with adult children who have their own families now. I leave church every time with my head down feeling kicked.

    I dread going. If you are the 60 percent in the middle no one wants you. First off, my church is a megachurch. When I was a Catholic, no one pressured me. When I attended a church of about people, they never micromanaged me. They need to see the church as a flock of sheep. Or if they are sheep, they should be called to repentance, removed from ministry, and asked to come in for counseling each week. But, to keep them in ministry is a Seal of Approval, before the eyes of the congregation.

    Right now, I sense a lot of pressure from family to join their new church, which is Calvinist. But, I lean more toward Arminianism. So, right now, I feel like the unwise virgin. Thank you, dm, for such an honest and transparent response. As a church leader I struggle between not becoming intrusive, versus promoting an accountability that promotes tough, love-saturated discipleship.

    Hope that made sense. Maybe even a cry for help? We would gladly welcome you back……and though we are a church of sinners, we are not perfect, we do try to follow the Word of God! And all of our beliefs are in line with the Holy Bible. Read John If you want to get involved, there are plenty of opportunities, and I imagine you could find something that an introvert would like. Praying for you! Can you clarify? When you grow, you have a larger attendance. Hope this helps. It does help, and makes sense as well. I do work with a lot of pastors from many different backgrounds, and though they work very hard to separate attendance as the driver for anything they do, the majority and most honest ones candidly admit they are never able to fully separate their motives from this goal.

    Thankfully, God is grace-filled and covers this and oh so much more! Appreciate your response. So true Rod. Reading a few posts here I to must agree with them. I am up in age, very well versed in the scriptures and I love the word of GOD, esp. But over all I must agree with the many here on this site. I have been to many assemblies in Chattanooga TN, and find virtually all feed pablum, I am fed up with pablum no pun intended I prefer some MEAT and please keep the grain.

    Most of these Hirelings have Degrees, but teach like children. Now, you wonder why people are leaving. These assemblies are of the daughters of Babylon, off spring of the Mega whore of Babylon the mother. Of coarse I have been called , a legalist, God cop, a critic and you name it. Verses that deals with Holiness, forget, or If eating meat offends my brother, takes a joke, If we love one other, keep my commandments, Oh boy you are a legalist!

    These are some of the things I am battling with, do I get angry, yes i do, do i let my wife know it, O yeah, do i let GOD know it, boy, do I. Do i get angry at GOD, yes I do! Why not just go to find truth and bounce ideas off other Christians? Activities are what you do outside church, talking to your unsaved friends and trying to make a difference in your sphere of life.

    I have a lot of years as Christian under my belt and Bible studies have shown me that I generally know more than most pastors. When others see this they try to get me into different positions within the church. A Christian revolution is going to happen and we are coming out of Babylon, the churches are all corrupt at the core with enough teaching slipped in to confuse and drive away less developed Christians.

    Over a 25 year period from a child I have been involved and studied all the main denominations. Me and other Christians will use it to help build the true non politically correct church. Better hated in truth than loved in error. Rather than a priesthood of believers it has become a priesthood of a few paid staff. There is little opportunity for responsibility of the vision by lay people.

    Your concern is common. The thing is, God has given different gifts to different people. Ontop of those gifts is schooling, training, and experience. Lets face it, the staff is engaged with their church on a daily basis, days a week, multuple hours a day. Laity on the other hand is engaged with their church hours a year, IF they attend worship and some sort of group averaging an hour each per week EVERY week.

    Would you go to a doctor that practiced medicine hours a year? Ephesians 4 lays out that the ministers to sum up the list Paul gives are to equip the saints laity for the work of the ministry. I believe a part of that equipping is using their gifts, training and experience to equip the laity with the vision. Which it sounds like what your staff is doing. It sounds like the struggle is, your staff is also doing the work of the ministry for the laity instead of equipping them and walking alongside of them in the work of the vision.

    When a leader gets better the entire church gets better. Conversely, the leader who either desires to do it all or micromanages his or her team, is not producing ownership, but simply volunteers instead. Hence, the foundation of the church is very thin to say the least. Leaders, protect your values and what God has called you to do.

    And preach the Word of God in season and out of season in order that the power of the gospel will produce godly repentance. Never give up. In due time you will reap a harvest! GREAT stuff! So when people prioritize the church experience above the church gathering relationships , meeting physically becomes unnecessary. As always, keep writing! How is that done through social media? Most often than not it leads to bickering and quarrels and even disguised insults.

    Action speaks louder than words. Scripture instructs us to be doers of the word not only hearers. A friend sent me one of your articles. I liked it and tried to sign up for your blog… 5 times! I have yet to receive the verification eMail you say you need. Your website provides NO contact link. What gives? I would add one simple reason for my personal household about not attending church: spiritual starvation.

    If every Sunday morning is a rehash of salvation for the 10 new seekers who stopped by for a visit or another elementary lesson on not yelling at your spouse , some of us leave the service feeling like the pastor hardly noticed our presence. Yes, that sounds terrible, but it is what it is. This is just a terrible comment.

    Instead of doing so, try to talk to the preacher after the service or during the week to see if things could change. My husband and I have been deeply involved in the church all our lives. Serving as teachers, leaders, and my husband as a deacon in several churchs, we have seen quite a lot of envolvement and change. We have been at the church that wanted us to be there to do all the work, and we learned when to say no. We have found the desire for power has always been a huge downfall for the church, by the people and by pastors. But in recent years, the pastors desire for power has seemed to trump the congregation to the point that people in the church who are the tireless workers are destroyed.

    It seems that even when men of great faith try to help the pastors with their power or leadership problems, the men are castigated for their efforts and that is the end of their service. What a Christian thing to do! The entire church becomes a revolving door for leaving workers and others that realize the lowered ethical sitiuation of the leadership, and new people entering, but no one asking why the back door never closes. They are not disciple builders.

    Young and older adults have no such opportunities, as all control for anything brought to the pastors to be begun is shackled. When this occurs, what is expected? The adults will eventually see the writing on the wall, that they are not really welcome — though they may try for a while- but they will move on to find another place that they may become part of something useful. When a person truely wants to work and serve God, they will find a way — even leaving a church they love- and go somewhere else, so they can serve God, and be fulfilled in what they believe God wants them to do.

    If it happens too much, the next place may not be a church. Thanks for this note…I appreciate your honesty but also the heart behind it. Your experience is so disappointing. As a leader, I understand the desire for control but also the need for freedom…I am so sorry your experience tipped the other way. Pray for grace, would you, for pastors and leaders? We need it. I have a heavy heart with you, and I feel that pain and our LORD is the only one who can fill the void and help the pain. Do we excoriate those who hear the call or praise them? Do we consider people who ask us or our children to commit violence for some greater good to be criminally insane, or honorable?

    One of the remarkable things about this text is that Abraham clearly struggles with what he is asked and would culturally and even politically and religiously be expected to do in his context. On the one hand, he feels the pull of this calling to sacrifice Isaac and follows it. On the other hand, he recognizes that this pull is terrible, not simply because he will lose his son, but also because it seems to undo God's promise to him to become a father of many nations.

    Isaac was a miracle child. Kill Isaac, and can any future miracles be expected at all? But this is not just a story of a struggling father. It is also and as importantly the story of the proposed victim of the culture's human sacrifice machine something unprecedented in such stories in the history of religious literature to that point. Everywhere else these stories are told, the victim is hidden, invisible, impersonal, mute.

    Here, Isaac speaks! He is not hooded, and his mouth is not gagged. Who are the Isaacs where you are? What typically happens to them? Do they remain silenced and hidden? What happens when or if they speak? Are there in your midst survivors of something like this, people who are willing to talk about how God's story delivered them from certain death if the "accepted" story were allowed to run its course?

    Abraham's response reveals his continued openness to a different outcome from what the cultural narrative and its ritual would demand. But the inner struggle continues as Abraham binds Isaac with no signs of resistance on Isaac's part at this point , lays him on the wood for the sacrificial fire, and raises the knife with which he would slaughter his son as preparation for the sacrifice to come. That's when the angel's voice interrupts the action. It probably isn't. Laying the hand on the boy was the first ritual action of a sacrifice.

    Before the plants or animals would be offered, the offerer would lay his hand on them, signifying to the one who was to prepare what was offered for the fire that it was owned and offered willingly and legitimately. The voice of God's messenger thus stops the ritual of the sacrifice before it can begin. How that interruption happened is miraculous. Here, at a moment of intense religious devotion and violence, calling Abraham by his name "father of a people" stops him cold. It's as if the angel had said, "This is who you are.

    You are the father of a people, not the ruler of a tribe. You are the father. That's what I've made you and promised you will be. It is in light of all of this that we can now begin to read the words that to our cultural ears may sound like the utterance of a psychopathic god. Isaac's non-sacrifice was the means by which Abraham fully gave Isaac to God and did not withhold him. This was a test. It was a real test.

    It was not a test of how far Abraham would go. It was a test of whether in the end he truly trusted in the God he had come to know and trust and what that God had made him to be, or whether he trusted more the "accepted" religious story of how leaders were to respond in times like these.

    Who are the Abrahams where you are witnesses who can talk about how God's story kept them from becoming the "acceptable" abusers, killers, or destroyers of others that the "accepted" story would have endorsed or even demanded? The power of this story is both in the test and in how it comes out. It's not just in the outcome, but also in the struggle. As you reflect on these images and questions in your worship planning team, do so with the idea in mind that this struggle between stories, and testimonies of what happens when we let God's story define our response, are likely to be lively in many worshipers.

    Abraham's and Isaac's story is also our story. Plan worship around this text to help people in your worshiping community get in touch with and be able to talk about how this struggle is playing out or has played out in their own lives. So what images, music, and soundscapes speak of "the way things are" story where you are? What images, music, and soundscapes bear witness to the way God has promised to make things to be and is making things to be all around you? What combination of images, music, and soundscapes can convey the allure of the "way things are" story, the convicting power of the God-story, and the struggle of these stories in our own souls, the soul of your congregation, the soul of your neighborhood or community, the soul of your nation, and the soul of the world?

    Romans leads those of us influenced by American Reformed Evangelicalism to familiar territory, part of what's been called in some evangelistic tracts, The Roman Road. This is a true and powerful text in its own right, even extracted from its proper context as most "Roman Road" presentations use it. But what Paul has offered us in these words in the context of Romans 6 is a much richer description of life in the body of Christ.

    And an important part of the context of these words is not just the words on the page, but the religious and cultural assumptions that come with them. In Paul's day, any notion of a sharp separation between ritual actions in community and the life of that community was unthinkable. Ritual life was not virtual life; it was real life in its most basic forms expressed ritually.

    That is why Christians and Jews objected so heartily to idolatry and the worship of other people or gods, because for them, the ritual itself declared either non-reality there are no other gods or reality distorted the god portrayed is a false one. This also meant that if there were a disconnect between what was expressed in a community's ritual and how the people who celebrated it actually lived, the ritual was not the problem. The problem was failure to live the reality the ritual declared and embodied. The ritual in question in this section of Paul's letter to the Christians at Rome is baptism.

    Baptism happens to us and changes us. We have been buried with Christ in baptism, and raised with Christ in baptism to walk in newness of life, Paul says earlier verse 4. If indeed we have been buried with Christ in baptism, we are actually dead to and freed from sin. If indeed we have been raised with Christ in baptism, we are actually freed from the power of death. The key word here is "freed. The captive set free is not thereby authorized to do whatever he or she wants, but rather to live lawfully, as a dutiful servant to the law among the people once again.

    Likewise, those freed from sin and death are not thereby authorized to live any way they please, but rather to live righteously as dutiful servants to righteousness in the communion of God and the saints on earth and in heaven. Here's the heart of Paul's analogy in these verses. What former captive in his or her right mind would attempt to live lawlessly after being freed from captivity, unless the condition of captivity has become "home"? Likewise, given that we have been freed in baptism from sin and death, why would we give ourselves to the ways of sin and death again, rather than submitting to the righteousness of God in which we now stand?

    Given the baptismal vows that have developed from the earliest centuries as represented in United Methodist ritual in Baptismal Covenant I UMH 34 , we might ask some more pointed questions. If we have been given grace and power to renounce the forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, repent from sin, resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, why do we seem so timid and powerless in the face of these things around us? Is not our timidity a sign that we have resubmitted ourselves to sin and death, rather than, as the vows continue, to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in union with his living body, the church?

    Put another way, if these are our vows, what structures do we have in place to help people live this way? Are these just pretty ritual words, divorced from real life, or are they, as Paul understood baptism, declarative of the very reality into which we have been initiated? If we are not building or connecting to structures to help us live the vows we take, were we just playing around when we took them? Or, to put it in Paul's terms here, have we allowed ourselves and others to resubmit to sin and death the wages of sin is death!

    Perhaps there are in your congregation or larger community people who are finding ways to take their baptismal vows seriously, to live the ritual, to live into the covenant, and to help one another do likewise. Early Methodism accomplished this through the class meeting.

    The General Rules , which provided the basic source for weekly conversation in the class meeting, were related to the baptismal vows of the Church of England in Wesley's day. Rejecting the powers of Satan: Do no harm Rule 1. Obediently following Christ: Do all the good you can Rule 2. Walking in the God's will and ways continually: Attend upon all the ordinances of God Rule 3. Covenant Discipleship is one current process that seeks to take up this role seriously in our day. Other structures and supports for accountable discipleship are also in place in a variety of ways.

    As you are planning worship today, invite folks in your congregation who are part of such groups, whether offered by your congregation or others, to be part of your team. If accountable small groups are not happening in your congregation, link with folks in other congregations or denominations! Listen to their testimony about how living into the covenant helps them experience what it means to be part of the body of Christ through baptism in a deeper, more coherent way. Listen for testimonies of how people are actually living as those dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.

    And then, among not just worship leaders, but any willing leaders or participants in your congregation, start talking about how you can take the challenge of this text seriously today, not by expecting people to live out the reality of baptism all by themselves which works how well? Matthew this week is brief and happy! This short text is not an invitation for a "sermonette," but it may be an opportunity to help folks begin to count and account for all the places of welcome they've encountered when they've been about the mission Jesus sent these disciples out to do: proclaim God's kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons Matthew Today is a day to be invitational and perhaps conversational.

    In addition to providing a brief introduction to this text, consider inviting people to talk in small groups for a few minutes to describe where and how they see signs of welcome for these kinds of ministries in what Wayne Schwab names as the seven missional contexts in which most Christians regularly find themselves: work or school, home, local community, wider world, spiritual health, congregational life and its outreach, and leisure. See the image above and www. Meanwhile, as you design for the worship space, think about what symbols or signs would best reflect each of these seven kinds of contexts for folks in your congregation and community.

    Consider creating stations around the worship space dedicated to each of these seven areas, and having several different images or art works or soundscapes available, drawn from what actual folks in your actual congregation see and hear when they are in those places. We offer suggestions for the Entrance this week, recognizing that today marks the beginning of the "second half" of the church year. A special focus on Entrance today may help you "kick off" the series you begin today and for the coming months.

    Genesis or Romans: At the heart of God's test of Abraham is the question about what covenant and what kind of God Abraham is ultimately claiming. Do we serve the "The Lord, The Lord, full of compassion, abounding in steadfast love" or do we serve a god who demands human sacrifices? If you're following Genesis today, consider beginning with a call to worship from the font in which a deacon or lay leader cups water and lets it fall back into the font as the following call to worship is offered:.

    People: "The Lord, the Lord, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. People: "You, Holy One, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. People: "The Holy One is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. People: "To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God" Micah Deacon or Pastor: Sisters and brothers, remember our God in the flowing of these waters.

    Remember that you are baptized, and be thankful! If you're following Romans, consider the following opening, also from the font while the waters are lifted and allowed to fall in by a deacon or lay leader:. Deacon or Lay Leader: Buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him to walk in newness of life. Who is Lord? Deacon or Lay Leader: Jesus is Lord. How will you respond when you see evil, injustice or oppression in any form?

    Deacon or Lay Leader: Jesus is Savior. He has delivered us from the power of sin.

    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time
    In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time In Conversation with God – Volume 3 Part 2: Weeks 7 - 12 in Ordinary Time

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