Power Point, Boring Churches, It’s all about Jesus, Church Quitters, No Community, Selfish Preachers, Churches As Stalkers / (Re: Why Some Drop Out of Church)
That page has one slide with screen shots of various tweets by various college students complaining about their professor’s over use of Power Point, including:
- -Being a college professor would be easy. Read off a Power Point you made 10 years ago and give online quizzes with questions you googled.
-College basically consist[s] of you spending thousands of dollars for a professor to point at a Power Point and read the bullets.
-I hate when a professor makes class mandatory and reads straight from the Power Point instead of actually teaching… I can do that at home
There are many reasons I no longer attend church and am not eager to ever go to another one ever again, and that is one of the reasons.
Church is boring. (And it’s not personal; churches tend to be impersonal.)
I feel that is a perfectly legitimate criticism of church: church is boring.
I am not saying that from a bratty, entitled, immature, 10 year old kid mentality.
Do not misunderstand. I am not arguing that the only thing a person should look for is entertainment at church.
There are already too many churches today that try to draw in crowds by entertaining them with rock bands, coffee shops in the church building, and gimmicks, primarily the moronic “seeker friendly” churches. That is not what I am advocating.
I’ve read criticisms of the present church model that argue church as we know it today is not how it was when Christianity first began. The first churches were groups of Christians sitting around in someone’s home discussing God, singing hymns, sharing each other’s problems … everyone was invited to participate in those meetings.
A “church service” back at the start of the Christian faith did not consist of one guy at a podium reading verbatim from the Bible, or, in the case of seeker friendly churches, one guy at a podium spouting off personal anecdotes and funny one-liners and pep talk advice while the congregation (the captive audience) sat there in silence.
By the way: the “worship” part of evangelical / Baptist church services don’t uplift me. They consist of people looking straight ahead at a big screen with text on it that is very repetitive. Some people (though this is rare at Baptist churches), put their hands up and wave them around.
I have never felt moved during these music segments at church, and I abhor them. I wish churches would drop the music segments – at least the ones where the entire congregation is expected to participate.
The music sections where some lady or guy stands at front and sings while I sit and listen don’t bother me as much. I don’t like the parts where myself and everyone else is commanded to get on their feet and sing along to words on a big screen.
I am not against music in and of itself, I am saying it feels out of place during a church service. I’ve never felt closer to God during the music part. I don’t see how me mumbling a few simplistic lines from a song honors God.
If anything, the music bits make me feel MORE hollow and empty, because there is this expectation by other Christians that you’re supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy and so, so close to God during the music, or you’re supposed to be basking in the greatness of God, or whatever.
I look around in some churches I’ve been to during the music bits (including one large, non denominational, charismatic church) and see some people with eyes closed, arms uplifted, swaying back and forth. Those types look like they are really getting something from the music.
I hate the music segments. I’m always waiting for them to end the moment they start.
At any rate, church is boring and impersonal.
I am not a supporter of shallow sermons and a rock band – the gee whiz environment that is prevalent in 90% of American churches today. I am not arguing that the antidote to “boring church” is to inject more excitement via rock bands and more coffee shops.
At the same time, though, I have been to one or more earnest churches where the preacher basically reads straight from the Bible – and that is boring. I can do that at home.
I can read the Bible myself and sometimes do, even in the midst of my agnosticism and trying to figure out if I want to remain a Christian at all anymore. (I should explain I don’t read the Bible nearly as much as I used to. I only read very small portions now, every so often.)
I am literate. I am college educated. I can sit at home and read the Bible, I don’t need some guy at a podium on a Sunday morning reading 90% of the Bible to me.
Even the churches that make entertainment a basis bore me. I’ve been to a few Baptist churches, large ones, that have gigantic video monitors and rock bands, with a preacher making jokes and pop culture references in his sermons, and I was still bored out of my mind.
One of the reasons I get bored at church is that there is no “back and forth.” There is no room for me to participate. I am not able to enteract with the pastor or other people. (This is the opposite of my issue with music segments: I prefer to sit out of music performances at church. I hate participating in music at church – but I do want to participate in lessons.)
For those of you who say that is what Sunday School is for – no, that has not been my experience.
In most Sunday School classes I have visited, there is already a pre-planned curricula, a published workbook from “Lifeway” that the class’s Sun. Sch. teacher reads from, or uses as a guide.
It’s not that I object to some pre-planning. I am not saying that use of a guide or workbook is necessarily wrong. If you are a Sun Sch teacher who wants to come up with a plan or topic for the class to discuss beforehand, I am fine with that to a point.
What I don’t like is an hour-long Sunday School class that is 95% a teacher reading from a Life Way workbook, and not much more.
I do wish some classes on some days were a “free for all.” Instead of having every single class planned before hand – where the teacher comes in with a pre planned topic already chosen – I think every other class, or every third class, should be open. Open as in, to whatever the class members want to discuss.
Instead of coming in on a Sunday morning and making everyone in the class talk about Abraham sacrificing Isaac but finding a ram stuck in a bush (heard that before a million times), let the adults either discuss whatever other Bible issues they want, or discuss their personal struggles, with other people jumping in with Bible-flavored (and some common sense) flavored perspectives of how to view and handle said problem.
— “JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!” – THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING IS ((( NOT ))) JESUS! —
And by the way. By the way. This is a tangent…
The answer to everything is NOT JESUS.
A lot of Christians blurt out the phrase, “the solution is JESUS!!!” to any and every problem a person may have.
That sounds so spiritual, but in practical application, it really means nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s so vague and all-encompassing as to be meaningless.
When it comes to the Bible’s solution for salvation, yes, Jesus is most certainly the one and only correct solution to that. I agree.
But if someone tells you their faucet in their kitchen is leaky, the correct solution is not “Jesus” but “put a new washer in the faucet.”
If someone’s grass is over-grown, the correct answer to that is not “Jesus,” but “mow your lawn” or “hire a landscaper.”
If someone tells you their mother- in- law is angry at them, the correct answer is not “Jesus” but perhaps something like, “apologize to her,” or, “ask her why she’s angry and seek to make amends if possible.”
While Jesus is a wonderful person, he is not the answer for everything.
If a couple in your church is divorcing, “Jesus” is not their solution: their solution may be more along the lines of marching down to a qualified marriage counselor and working through their issues.
And by that, I don’t mean empty, religious-sounding solutions, such as, “you two should just read the Bible together more,” or, “pray to God to restore the marriage,” or “attend church weekly,” or platitudes of, “give your marriage to Jesus, and let Jesus fix it!”
No, those “solutions,” which are on par with “Jesus is the answer!!,” are not helpful.
But concrete steps, like the husband, for example, may need to spend more time with his wife and less watching football. Concrete, practical steps like that. Just blurting out “Jesus is your answer” at a couple whose marriage is in trouble is not a solution. So comes to an end my tangent.
I’ve been in Sunday School classes where the class members are not allowed to talk to each other very much, to share each other’s issues and lives.
These days, I learn more from a two-way conversation in a church setting (or in about any setting not just church), not me sitting in a church as a captive audience as a Sun School teacher or preacher talks non-stop.
I am not 12 years old any more. I no longer get anything out of being the quiet pupil who sits there listening to some teacher go on in a speech.
I find my mind drifting now if expected to listen to someone go on for more than 20, 30 minutes with no input from me. If you want my full attention, you have to pause in your speech and ask me for my thoughts, to get me to engage in the material/topic.
I want to be able to speak up and add my two cents or ask questions, or ask other people in the room what they think. But one cannot do that in present- day church environments.
Attending church is like attending a movie theater: you are expected to sit there, remain quiet for an hour and a half, and passively absorb entertainment / information.
None of that leaves much room for fellowship, either.
In the adult Sunday School classes I have been to, usually, the leader of the group will give you a token five to 10 minute “chat with classmates” courtesy, and that is all.
After that 5 – 10 minute frame ends, they expect you to crack open your workbook and start discussing the day’s lesson plan (chosen by whomever wrote the Life Way lesson in the workbook).
I have seen other Christians in such classes, who are hurting and going through a tough time (such as, a divorce, death in the family, whatever), who are sharing their heartbreak or frustrations with us, get brushed off by the teacher, who feels such personal sharing is “de-railing” the class or its purpose… so they try to get that person to shut up, so everyone will focus on the pre-planned lesson of the day.
I disagree with that approach. Who says the only purpose for a church or Sunday School class is just sitting there, with glazed over eyes, reading from a life way workbook?
One reason we go to church is to support each other, weep with those who are weeping.
I’m tired of people who view church as ONLY a venue to talk about God, to worship, or read from Bible passages word- for- word.
I think this is especially a bad format for an adult singles church class.
You may possibly have some adult singles who have no living family left – or like me, they have some living family but have poor relationships with the remaining family – and the faces they see in a Sunday School class may be some of the only support or companionship they get during the week…
And instead of being there for such people, these teachers cut them off after five minutes to make everyone whip out a Life Way workbook to talk about something irrelevant that we’ve all heard a million times before, such as David fighting the Philistines.
At this stage in my life, I’m not terribly interested in David, the Philistines, or why he fought them. These things become dry history lessons.
I don’t see how they are altogether applicable to me, and in the meanwhile, my needs (and I have them) are not being met.
I think adult singles need emotional support and/or companionship far, far more than another Bible lesson about Elisha getting a double portion.
That may mean allowing adult singles share their struggles for 50 or 60% or more of the class time, or just talking about whatever, rather than the token, sad, lame, anemic five minutes they usually get.
Maybe the adult singles classes could be divided up into adult singles who prefer the old, out-dated, impersonal, method of reading from a Life Way book, and they get their own class, and another class could be offered for adult singles who would prefer what I’m talking about:
A looser one that is lighter on the “lesson plan” scenario where all you do is yak about David and Noah for 50 minutes (or just sit and listen to the teacher read from the workbook about David and Ruth), but one where they get to talk more to each other, about their lives, and what is going on in their lives, as well as discuss a bit more with each other about some Bible story.
Some “Bible talk” or Bible quoting could be interjected even into my idea, but I think letting the adults set the pace of whatever is relevant with them is more engaging for adult singles.
— MORE BIBLE READING / IT’S ALL FOR JESUS —
There are some Christians out there who think the solution to all this is for preachers to read straight from the Bible more, or that it needs to be about Jesus more.
No, as I said above, that’s not the solution, either. I don’t need to show up to a service and sit and listen to some guy read verbatim from a Bible for an hour. I can do that, I can read the Bible on my own just fine, thanks.
— CULT OF PERSONALITY —
Also, some of the churches that claim it’s “all for Jesus” or “all about Jesus” are some of the most cult like, and least Jesus like, and the least loving, such as Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church and Steve Furtick’s Elevation. These sorts of churches are either spiritually abusive, or they worship Calvinism, or they are a cult or personality.
Secondly, even in the manner they mean, making it all about “Jesus” is not always the solution. Do Christians need to be reminded that everything points to Jesus? Yes. I see no harm in that, but again, only to a point.
For example, if a preacher wants to do a sermon on mourning and death, telling the members that we all get reunited with our dead loved one is all due to Jesus, is not going to be enough.
Nor is just screaming at a congregation, “Jesus!, Jesus!, Jesus’ blood covers you, he died for you, repent and accept his sacrifice” is not a magic charm that erases the very real struggles people face in the meantime.
Even the New Testament says that the American Christian interpretation of “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is all you need, and to remember he paid for you sins, grace, grace, you are now under grace!” is wrong, because it says (paraphrasing), “What good does it do a hungry man to say to him ‘Jesus, Jesus, all you need is Jesus, remember his blood cleansed you from sin,’ but then to walk off not having given that man some bread for his hungry belly?”
In other words, people have very real needs, and in the case of the hungry man you are to meet his need first (fill his belly), and after his tummy is full, THEN you can do your Jesus spiel.
Telling a starving person to remember Jesus loves them, and died for their sins, and remember to repent, is NOT helpful to that person in the here and now, and they are likely to ignore your sermonizing.
If a preacher is doing a sermon on death and mourning, he should not only go on about how Jesus makes it possible for people to be reunited with dead loved ones, but he needs to also instruct the members on practical ways to reach out to those in grief among them (e.g., bring them casseroles, sit and listen to them talk an hour or two every month, etc).
When someone is undergoing something like a death of a family member, for example, they need immediate care, which means bringing them food and weeping with them – they do not need a religious lesson about salvation, grace, the law, etc.
Look at the book of Job in the Old Testament: the man was most comforted and helped when his friends sat with him in silence and mourned with him. They ceased being helpful, and started being hurtful, and adding insult to injury, when they opened their mouth to give Job sermons, religious lessons, and to talk about sin.
I am not a supporter of shallow sermons and seeker friendly churches where the preacher talks about himself and rarely, if ever, mentions Jesus. Do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that churches be only about the people all the time.
But I find some Christians go the other, dangerous route of wanting to make church and/or sermons nothing but 100% Jesus all the time – and that in itself can be damaging.
—- Many Churches are Selfish, Limit People, and Keep Them From Using Their Gifts —-
Christians tend to be terrible at helping hurting people in their midst.
Christians – at both the church wide level and the individual level – would rather sermonize and give religious platitudes and name drop Jesus to someone who is going through a tough time, instead of getting off their butts and doing the dirty, practical work: mowing someone’s lawn for them while they are sick, bringing them food, holding their hand as they weep, etc.
What is easier:
1. spending an hour or two a month with a weepy, emotionally needy person who is in grief over a death and listening to that person,
2. telling such as person, “I’m praying for you! Trust in Jesus for a healing over this!”
Most Christians opt for choice number two above, when the Bible tells them they are expected, by God, to choose option one. (Or, to put it another way, God hopes they choose one, if not “expects” it.)
Most Christians don’t like #1 on that list, because it requires actual effort and time on their part.
I think most Christians find it easier to spiritualize everything and name drop Jesus, so that they can spend more time watching football on the weekends, or whatever their hobby is.
—- COMMUNITY —-
I know some Christians who despise seeker-friendly churches who also balk at the word, or concept of, “community.” They seem to think it sinful or selfish for Christians to want to get their need for relationship (community) met among other Christians.
I find this hypocritical, because
1. the Bible says providing community (“fellowship”) is in fact one purpose of the church,
2. the critics of the “community” rhetoric seem to me to be usually married, middle class, financially stable men: these are men who are getting all, or most, of their needs met already.
They don’t know what it’s like to be lonely, not have steady companionship, they are not having financial problems, or health problems, or other types of problems.
It’s very easy for you, if you are a married guy with a good job, to knock a more personal church experience and the wish for community, when your wife and your job are getting your needs met for you.
It’s easy for you to criticize someone who lacks a spouse or family, or who may be having health or financial problems, for wanting a church to meet these needs from your cozy, relatively problem-free position (you have a spouse (which probably means built in companionship/friendship), your health is okay, and you have enough money).
Of course such selfish, insensitive jerks are going to want to stress church as being more about theology, doctrine, “Bible reading only,” or “it’s all about JESUS!!!11!!!,” then they will be eager to support the notion of a church existing to help people who are having struggles.
I am not interested in attending church, for one reason being they are “one way” streets.
As I mentioned above at length, you are expected to sit there and listen, not to participate.
I am expected to show up and sit in classes and sermons, keep my mouth shut, and listen to other people read verbatim from workbooks or from dry Scripture stories I’ve already heard a billion times, about guys like David or Gideon fighting Amakelites, or whatever.
That is, of course, when the preacher is not offering his 456th million marriage sermon series, which means nothing to me, since I am an adult who has never married.
Then you have gender complementarian churches who further chip away at how and when a woman may participate, which ends up being about nil, zero.
Your gender complementarian, seeker friendlies further boot out any woman from participating who is over 30 or 35 years of age (I have blogged about that before, with examples). Such churches prefer under-age 30 women on stage and in other positions of service, because they want to appear hip and trendy to the kids.
Commonly, Christians will tell you that if you want a friend at church, if you want “belonging” in a church, you must not sit about waiting for others to approach you, you must reach out first.
It is also common for them to advise you to join church groups and ministries, “to serve others”. They pitch the idea that the more “involved” you are with joining groups, the more friends you will make, etc.
This turns out not to be true, though.
Even people who volunteer for every church activity are not getting community and friendship.
I’ve read testimonies of people who sign up for every thing their church offers – they show up weekly, reach out to people at their churches for years, but they are still never included. Nobody makes an effort to get to know them, phone them up to chat just for chatting, invite them over for a dinner or movie.
Some of these same people said when crisis hit their life, that their preacher and fellow church members blew them off, ignored them. Again, these are people who had been active, regular members at church for five or more years, and they had served on various church ministry groups – and they were still brushed off.
This tells me that the old adage of ‘show up regularly and participate, to make a friend you have to be a friend’ doesn’t work.
— BUSINESS NOT CHURCH —
Some churches have legal paper work they make people fill out before they are allowed to volunteer! Some churches make volunteers and staff sign non-disclosure disagreements.
Here is one page that discusses this problem:
(Link): Confidentiality Agreements: Church Security at What Price? by Skye Jethani
It’s ridiculous. Churches are based more on a dog-eat-dog, impersonal business model now than, well, a biblical church model.
— MODERN PREACHERS ARE SELF SERVING JERKS —
The church today exists to feed the needs of the preacher, particularly in the “seeker friendly” churches.
The preachers in such churches talk about themselves as being “vision casters” and “visionaries,” and they demand and expect the people in the pew to be all about serving the preacher and his vision (which includes tossing their money at the preacher, so he can live in a (Link): 16,000 square foot house).
Anyway as I was saying before: even showing up weekly and volunteering is not a guarantee you’re going to make friends, or that people are going to make a habit of including you.
I’m not really sure what more a person can do. You show up every week, get turned down to work as a volunteer (because most churches are anti-singles and anti-women), and even in the churches where you are permitted to volunteer, nobody makes an effort to befriend you anyway.
And churches and preachers expect people to keep showing up in spite of all this?
They do. That’s the hurbris these groups have. In the past few years, since church attendance has declined across the nation, more and more church / Christian groups, have been writing more and more of these editorials that shame and blame people who drop out of church.
Most of these church-quitter-shamers are Neo Calvinist guys. They are very legalistic about church attendance (as are other groups, such as Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, but these church quitter shaming trends seem more prominent among Calvinists now).
They have been churning out a new blog post every two to four weeks or so about the (in their opinion) absolute sin and horror of not belonging to a local church body, and many of these guys feel strongly a Christian should be “held accountable” under a group of elders and preachers (I don’t know why, as so many of those guys are perverts, serial killers, or drug addicts, see this link for examples).
Since so many polls lately (lately = the last several years) have been showing a ton of people dropping out of church and many people no longer identify as Christian (or as Baptist or Presbyterian, or whatever), but categorize themselves as “nones” (ie, religious affiliation), I wonder if these Calvinist guys think the solution it to browbeat or shame people over it? I don’t think shaming people can get them back into church.
(I’m not opposed entirely to shame on a personal sin level regarding vices, such as sexual sin, however. I think the church actually needs more of that, since most churches today have gone the opposite direction and have been downright accepting of sexual sin.
But in regards to a Christian deciding to drop out of church, I don’t see how shaming them or making them feel guilty will get them to stay or return. I don’t agree that quitting church, as in halting meeting in a brick building on a Sunday, is defined in the Bible as being sinful.)
There have been creepy blog posts by these church quitter shamers advising other churches to track down members who leave. They advise harassing such people over quitting.
Some churches get upset if you quit. They will tell you that you are still formally a member of their church, and they will phone your new church to tattle on you, should you start attending a new church.
These sorts of churches sound more like the unhinged, stalker ex- girlfriend from the Fatal Attraction movie than like the “body of Christ.”
As a matter of fact, one of the groups that push the view that church attendance is mandatory, and may you rot in Hell if you quit going, the Gospel Coalition (which I believe is Calvinist), as I type this, have this blog title on their home page:
- Why Do We Have to Go to Church Again?
Mar 06, 2014 | Matthew Westerholm | TGC Worship
Relevant magazine (which I think is Calvinist too?) has also been publishing a lot of twaddle about “why you need to go to church,” “five reasons you need to keep going to church,” “six reasons that are dumb for quittng church,” or, “why you have no excuse to quit church,” and so on.
Here is one example of that sort of editorial:
When looking up that particular blog post, I saw this one in the results:
- Ten Bad Reasons for Leaving Your Church – MARKINC Ministries
There are millions of these things online.
In the past two years, I have actually seen some of these articles that have headlines such as, “Why you have no excuse to quit the body of Christ.”
These are articles that are trying to convince people to once more regularly attend a brick building church at least once a week. They are conflating attending a brick building (“going to church”) with being a member of the church (as in, the body of Christ).
Excuse me, but do not equate showing up to a brick building on Sunday morning to “being in the body of Christ.” A person is “in the body” even when they stay at home.
Some of these idiots equate criticism of local church groups, or church as it is done (meeting on a Sunday morning to hear a boring sermon or personal anecdotes from a preacher), as being criticism of Jesus himself.
I am someone who is somewhat in the process of possibly walking away from the Christian faith to agnosticism, but in spite of that, I still respect Jesus Christ a great deal.
My problem is not with Jesus (not primarily, anyway; but that is a topic for another post, which I’ve already written about before), but my problem is mainly with the idiots who claim to follow Christ.
I don’t expect perfection in or from a church, but the staggering amount of hypocrisy, greed, and other flaws I’m seeing, and that it is happening on a regular basis, turns me off. These negative traits are more or less common among many churches I am seeing, and it’s happening on a daily or weekly basis.
Look at preacher Mark Driscoll as yet another example (and he is a Calvinist and a gender complementarian). This dude is in one controversy after another, and it’s been escalating the last three months.
Driscoll spent a few years making crass, rude, lewd, sexist comments in church services and as a guest speaker at Christian speaking engagements.
Later (as of fall of 2013), Driscoll was caught stealing material from other people’s books in his books (he did not provide citation), and in the last week, there was this new controversy:
- Driscoll paid the hefty six-figures to a California-based company [California based firm called ResultSource] to get [his “Real Marriage” book] on the [New York Times] list according to KOMO-TV report based on information from WORLD Magazine, a publication that covers religion.
And this one, shortly after the book controversy:
And this one, a few weeks before that one:
(Link): Seattle Times Reports on the Troubles of Mark Driscoll’s Doctor John Catanzaro
[according to news reports, Catanzaro was a quack, but Driscoll was supporting the guy on the church’s blog, but after the controversy, he removed all mentions of the guy from the site, etc.]
If winking at sexual sin like it’s nothing, if ignoring adult singles and their needs, or if the selfish, greedy, vision-casting preacher was an anomaly, I would not be as upset. But this garbage (and more bad stuff) is RAMPANT AND FREQUENT in many churches I see.
That, with the belief that I should sit quietly in a pew an hour a week while some guy drones on (this gets back to: church is boring), churches are too authoritarian, and that churches will not even attempt to provide community and fellowship and offer emotional or practical support for members, are some of the reasons I don’t want to try going to church anymore.
Related posts this blog:
(Link): The Unchurched