There is a growing trend in the American church. A trend that church leaders and pastors are working feverishly to try and stop, but a trend that is continuing all the same. Studies show that over one (1) million adults are leaving the "traditional" church every year.
Some studies have determined that if "church-dropouts" were a denomination, it would be the fastest growing denomination in the world. The reasons why people drop out of church are many. Obviously, many drop out because they were never truly converted and they are merely returning to the world they left behind. We are not primarily speaking of these "unsaved" dropouts however. Most of the church dropouts love God and want to be good Christians. Many of them quit because of pastoral failure, or hurts and wounds inflicted by church people. Others left because church is boring and irrelevant. Other's felt burned out by the pressures and demands of ministry.
Some simply were not being discipled and didn't see the point in it all. For 12 years, CCC was a "traditional" church with Sunday morning services, children's church, youth ministry, women's ministry, men's ministry etc. In other words, we did all the things any good self-respecting church would do. Thankfully, some of us began to realize that it was all a giant hamster wheel with no real point. Just like 99% of the churches in America, CCC existed just to exist. Just like 99% of the churches in America, we could tell you how "lives were being changed" and how "God was moving in our midst," but if we were honest, we would be forced to admit lives weren't changing all that much.
Slowly however, we began to realize that if we took the New Testament and compared the church of the Bible with our church, the two did not match. We were preaching 52 life changing messages a year, but the lives of most people weren't really changing all that much. We also realized that if we handed a Bible to someone who knew absolutely nothing about Christianity, that they could never construct the modern church from the Bible. Religion, tradition, rules, guilt, and bondage are the cornerstones of the modern Western church.
Freedom and transformation are the measuring sticks of the New Testament. We concluded that love and relationships should be the central point of our congregation, not church activities and programs. We also discovered that only God's Word could bring people freedom, and that we did not need "children's church," as much as we needed to raise our children in righteousness. We did not need "singing" as much as we needed to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. We no longer provide "programs" or music to entertain. What we do offer is God's Word and teaching on how to use God's Word to live a successful life.
We do not use guilt or manipulation to bring you to church. We treat people like adults and no one will pressure you to "come to church," give money, participate in any programs, or do anything. Jesus seemed to think that serious people would follow Him up, so we make everything we do "optional." How much (or how little) you particpate in church life is up to you. We will provide the tools for a successful life; whether you use those tools will be up to you.
Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net