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Dealing with cynicism about the church

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If you look over the blog I wrote about my angst-producing experience with churches, you’ll see that Debbie, a blog reader and a mom of an AIM participant, recently took me to task for being a poor example to young people. Her experience is very different than my own. She feels blessed to be a p…
By Seth Barnes

If you look over the blog I wrote about my angst-producing experience with churches, you’ll see that Debbie, a blog reader and a mom of an AIM participant, recently took me to task for being a poor example to young people.

Her experience is very different than my own. She feels blessed to be a part of a great church.

Debbie finds me overly critical concerning the church. I may be. I often feel like a Cassandra as I look at Barna’s statistics (43,000 a week leaving the church) and wonder what we’re going to do about it.

Church doesn’t have to be complicated – it should help do three things: help us connect deeply to God (discipleship), help us connect deeply to one another, and help us connect deeply and redemptively to the world (missions).

jaded churchTo realize the dream of an abundant life that Jesus promised, we, the church, should do these three things in an atmosphere of celebration and liberty. If you find a church that can do this and harness itself to the power of God, then you may be part of something that is potentially world-changing.

The problem is that most institutional churches I have been a part of don’t even aspire to this. Instead, they seem to be set up to deliver a cafeteria of consumer services, the main course being the Sunday service.

We connect superficially, if at all, to God, one another, and the world. So, what do we do with that? Debbie would have me go quietly into the night, and maybe I should.

Maybe all my exertions about the state of things are more Chicken Little than Paul Revere. I believe that if we’ve discovered a problem, then we need to wrestle with it. But we need to do so in a hopeful, constructive way. We need to not just shout at the darkness, but light a few candles.

I’m as flummoxed by the subject as I am about anything – what are your thoughts?

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