Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4: 21-24 (New King James Version)
American Xtianity is in deep shit: be it White, Black, Catholic, or Protestant. People are growing tired of the institutional Church and are beginning to depart from it. This is not a new phenomenon, yet in recent years people are walking away. These souls still are believers in Christ, yet have left the institutional part behind.
There are the “Nones:” people without any religious affiliation. This is the “spiritual but not religious” club. There are also the “Dones:” people who walked away from church altogether-people who are “done” with church.
Then there’s everything else in-between. We’re seeing pastors and others in the ministry wrestling with the tenets of faith they were taught to hold fast to. We’re seeing ministers who do not believe in the God of the Bible. We’re seeing clergy turning Atheist (which I’ve posted about in a previous post). Even in my own African-American community, we’re seeing a rise in Atheism among intelligent young-and not so young-people (also previously posted). This is happening right before our very eyes. Let’s not forget those who are still in the institutional Church, actively involved in ministry, yet whose hearts are not in it.
These are the people who come to Jesus weary, worn and beat down; looking for that resting place where they can find freedom in him and be part of an organic community of believers. However, these poor souls are conscripted as slaves in an ecclesiastical organization that’s anti-(FILL IN THE BLANK), on the wrong side of politics, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, behind the times, a hindrance-instead of a help-to the greater community, and fed a diet of “turn or burn” sermons that could scare off God Him/Herself.
Then there’s the crowd who does not believe in God altogether. Oh, they may believe in Jesus and/or his teachings. However, as far as the Big Guy/Gal in the sky-ain’t happening. Thanks to science, personal experience, or just a bad day at the office, these people-from the pulpit to the door-have chucked the existence of God into the trash bin.
Now I know some of you good churchgoing Christians will have something to say. You’ll say that it’s all hype and the numbers aren’t that much. You’ll say that such folk need to “toughen their faith” or to just “pray about it.” Maybe they need to find that church with the right “fit.” Some of you may go as far as to question the validity of these folk’s faith. I should know-been there, done that. And the crazy part is some of you may have the same issues as these folk, yet have not expressed it yet.
However, we cannot ignore this phenomenon. And I daresay, we ignore it because we are afraid of losing bodies in the church. Some of us may be genuinely interested in their soul salvation (not a Biblical tenet); however for many of us-especially pastors-it’s an ego thing. You see, we don’t want to think the possibility that these “Nones,” “Dones,” and others in between could be right. That maybe, we who are in the Church could be wrong on some accounts, but are not grown up to admit it. Plus, we don’t see God afflicting these people with some misfortune as “punishment” for leaving the flock; in fact, some of these people do better away from the Church!
That’s all I can say for now as this phenomenon grows. For those who are Nones, Dones, and others in-between, and even Atheist, please know that you are welcome here, judgement-free.
(Above image: St. John’s Lutheran Church, NYC)