Last week I went to a Pastor's Conference in San Diego, and I went to an interesting seminar: "They Like Jesus, but not the Church," by Dan Kimball. I don't know why I was surprised by this topic, but I was. Kimball had gone out to colleges and talked to students about Jesus and the Church. In regards to Jesus, the students had positive things to say. People loved how Jesus was loving, and giving, and sacrificial. But when it came to the church, they had a much different attitude. Here are some of their responses:
I believe in Jesus and his teaching are inspirational but the church has corrupted his teachings.
Church confines people minds, keeping them from other forms of spiritual expression.
Church rearranges things that don’t go along with their beliefs.
Closed minded individuals.
The Church tells you what you should believe.
I haven’t met very many true Christians.
It is interesting to me, as a pastor of a church, that so many people have a negative view of the church. It makes me wonder what kinds of experiences they have had. The truth is, that many of these people admitted they have never really been to church. So the perception they are getting of the church is from the media (which usually is negative as they report only that bad things that happen in churches).
But for me (and hopefully you) the bigger question is: What are we to do about this? How can we make church more accessible and attractive to people?
I think the first way is that we have to go out and encounter people where they are, taking the love of Jesus out. We can't expect people to come to the church to see what it is about. Second, we have to act more Christlike. Too many Christians are solemn and judgmental. Why are we not showing the love and sacrifice of Christ more? Third, we need to just be regular people. God did call us to not be like the world, but we can just be ourselves. We don't have to be superChristian. And fourth, when people do come to church, we need to accept them for who they are, and help them to connect with God and God's people.
I would love your ideas on this subject. Do you know people who love Jesus but not the church? Why is this? Please e-mail me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.