Why Americans are not attending church

While scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday I saw five different links to find out why Americans are no longer attending church. They all listed several points. I am going to weigh in on it, and give my top two points that were not listed. Time, and value. The two go together, and these two are in my opinion, two of the top reasons Americans are not going to church.

Time is very precious, I have written about that before. Many Americans don’t have any time, it is all spoken for. We live in a time where many have to work 6 and 7 days a week in order to survive, and take care of their families. When they do get a day off they would like to see one of their kids play sports, or go see their family. When they do get a day off and go to church they don’t want to be ridiculed for not being there more often.

But isn’t it true that we can all choose where, and how we spend the time that we do have? Yes it is true, and this where value comes in. We choose to go to work everyday because we value the pay check, benefits, etc, or even call it a need. We choose to go see our kids play sports because we find value, and joy in doing so. We choose to spend our time on what we find valuable. So what does that say about choosing to not go to church. It says we don’t value it.

Why do we as a people no longer value going to church? I would say there are many reasons, but one reason that can sum a lot of it up is that we have heard it all before. If it is an old covenant condemning type church we already know we are not good enough. If it is a prosperity get everything you want type church, we live in a consumeristic society, we have been taught to chase the American dream. Where do you think the prosperity movement was born? Combine some scriptures, and the American dream and there you have it. We are burdened by it every day. It breeds endless jealousy, envy, comparison, and burden. If it’s a church where we just have to believe harder, and have more faith in order to overcome life happening to us, we’ve heard that too. We’ve heard it all before.

Why do we hear more about external growth than internal growth? Why are we hearing that profit is more important than people? Business is business right? We hear these things everyday at work, we don’t need to hear it in church. Why are we going to church and never hearing about Jesus, the good news, and His kingdom?

Why is the number of people going to church in America shrinking every year, but some pastors are reporting that 100,000 people are turning to the church every year in China? Could it be that they are presenting what is valuable? Could it be that their message is Jesus the savior, the redeemer, the prince of peace, the provider, speaking the good news gospel, etc? Could it be that they know life happens, and they don’t make people feel guilty about it? Could it be they don’t just tell people to believe more, have more faith, and say they will pray for you, but they actually put their skin in the game and help you while you are down? Could it be that they understand the only thing that makes us Christians different is Christ?

The love of Christ is our litmus test. It’s how we should be identified, and known to be Christians. It’s what should make us different when people encounter us. It should come out of us when we are around people. It’s what is valuable.

I know very little, but I know this….if you can provide a place where people can come in and have an encounter with Jesus, His love, and the miracles and healings, etc that follow….they will make time to come back to Him (not you and your church) over and over again. They will find something so valuable every time that they will keep coming back to Him. Even if they falter. If it’s a safe place, they will come back because they won’t fear judgement.

We can get concerts from the world. We can get motivational speakers from the world. We can get personal finance from the world. We can get condemnation from the world. We can get judgement from the world. The only thing we can not get from the world is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Romans 10:14 “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” This is the value we could offer, an encounter with Him.

New technologies, aging generations, new demographics, etc, it doesn’t matter what you call the issue, encounters with the one true God will transform people. It may be a post-Christian America, but that’s because we decided encounters with God should come second to our own agendas.

I love the church in it’s original purpose, I have hope for the church, I minister in the church. This is my attempt to see things from the other side of the door after studying the reported data on Americans and church attendance. It is also me being transparent about my own thoughts, and things I have worked through.

I hope this didn’t come off as judgmental as that wasn’t my aim. There are no perfect churches as they are led by and full of imperfect people, but there are some really healthy, great churches in America. Jesus said ” ‘I’ will build my church”, I love His church. You will know it’s His church when you are there because He will be present.

If you haven’t been to church in a long time, go out and try to find a place where you walk away knowing you encountered the one true God, it will be worth it.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

Prosperity??

In Philippians 2:3 we read that we should not do things out of selfish ambition, and to look out for the interest of others. Even in serving the Lord, it wasn’t until the last few years that I realized that my dreams, and vision for my life were my own selfish ambition. Serving really isn’t meant to build you your own empire, serving is others centered. If you serve in order to obtain a self-centered dream, or vision you are simply self-serving. Serving is looking out for others at the expense of yourself. Serving Jesus even when it costs you something. Serving others even when it costs you something.

Unfortunately one of the things that I see happening all around me is Christians using other people(not just their money) for their own profit. I think it comes out of a twisted version of the prosperity message. It has convinced us that it is ok to use others for profit, and make as much profit as possible at the expense of others. We tell ourselves it’s ok because God wants us to be “blessed” and have the “abundant life”. We look at ROI, profit margins, etc just like the world does. We try to get as much profit as possible rather than the least it takes to keep growing. Let me just say that I believe God does want to prosper us, but I think that simply means He will make sure we have more than enough to do what He has called us to do. That can be relationships, buildings, money, or simply said anything we may need. The more than is not meant to build your empire, it is meant to help others.

This is what I have written down for myself as kind of my motto….whatever I do I will try to make sure the other party gets more value from me than I receive payment from them. I think this fits what it means to serve better than making sure I get more payment from people than the value I give them.

It doesn’t matter if you are a ministry leader, someone who provides a service, someone who provides a product, someone who goes to work everyday, a speaker, a writer, etc…I think the motto will fit the scenario.

 

 

 

Important question regarding your spiritual, mental, and emotional health

The question is this….

Why would you be more loyal to people who ignore, degrade, or devalue you than to the people who acknowledge, enhance, and celebrate you?

Common reasoning….They are my family, I have known them my whole life, I grew up with them etc.

Family loves, encourages, celebrates, respects, and honors you. The people that do not do these things are not your family. This does not mean you can’t care for those people, but it should determine who you allow your heart to be tied to.

Don’t allow your spiritual, mental, and emotional health to be destroyed by people who devalue you.

 

Give yourself

When you talk about being a giver most people will probably immediately think money; however, being a giver goes way beyond that one expression. Do you give your time, love, energy, attention, thoughts, care, etc to others? I believe that kingdom people have to be givers, and everyone can give others their time, focus, and energy even if you don’t have the ability to give to others financially. God is a giver, and we should be as well. Not with selfish motives and ambitions, but simply as an expression of who we are.

The law of sowing and reaping will always be true; however, you can’t give just to receive, you give of yourself because it is who you are as a son in the kingdom, and it is fulfilling. When you do things that align with who you are it is energizing, and life-giving. Most of us don’t give of ourselves because we think we will be taken advantage of. I think many people come up with a view that the world is a place of competition, extreme limitations, and a place where everyone is against you (I did). But with a shift in mindset it could become a place of limitless opportunities and chances. Instead of withholding out of fear you will be done wrong, you go ahead and give knowing that God gave you that opportunity, and you will reap blessing. You have to make a deposit before you can earn interest.

Most things can be faked, but giving yourself can not. You feel it when people make a withdrawal from you, and you also feel it when people deposit into you. Most of the time connections with people are not gained because of the product, teaching, or gift but the experience you gave them. Money is temporary and emotionless, but great experiences are full of emotion, passion, and remain with you in your memory.

Most people will try to give just enough to get the most back. Good people will give the most they can for the return they get. Kingdom people should try to give in such a way that money could not buy the experience. Kingdom people should strive to give more in value than you could ever get back in payment. If you do it will equal influence for the Lord’s kingdom. If I was rich I could give my daughter a bunch of money and see what she does with it, or I could give her my experiences and allow her to bypass some of my struggles which has a value that money can not buy.

Most people go to work in order to survive, some go to work in order to save, and very few go to work in order to serve and give. The greatest title in the kingdom is ‘greatest servant’. Kingdom people should try to go about their work in a way that they give of themselves in order to see someone else succeed. If you are faithful in helping someone else succeed, you should expect to succeed yourself. In Luke 16:12 we read that if you are not faithful with another man’s why would you be trusted with your own. You can have a dream while helping someone else make their dream come true. I would venture to say that if you place other people’s interests first you will have greater influence with those people.

You can give people all kinds of things, and that is great but YOU are what’s really valuable. You are more valuable than any product, teaching, or money that you could offer. Give yourself.

We are not owners of anything, but stewards of what is the Lord’s. Be a giver, and also be open to receive as sowing and reaping go together.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

What is your Value

What is your title? What is your value? Are the two related? Have other people assigned a title and a value to you? I live in America where people love to assign titles, and value as well as obtain certain titles. You hear things like you have to make yourself more valuable, or bring more value to the marketplace, etc. I’ve said many of these things myself, and I will say that many times it is said with good intentions, but I think value may be the wrong word to use. The people of God are not stocks in the market whose value goes up and down as they are traded around. Their value is solidified in their identity as a son or daughter of God. Skills, gifts, talents, and abilities can all be honed, and improved, but our value is precious son or daughter. Too many times value is assigned based on what people do, or the title they carry. (See more about who you are and what you do Here)

In mark 6:3 the people assigned a title and a value to Jesus. (read it here) They said he is just a carpenter, a nobody. They were way off, and so are the people who say things like that about you. (including yourself) You are not JUST an anything, you are a walking change agent for the people and the world around you. One conversation with a person can be the door that allows the Lord to transform their entire life. If we are not careful we can allow the culture around us, one of competition, achievement, status, titles, etc to assign value to our lives. Are you competing for a title right now? Is your highest priority achievement? Are you trying to be looked at as a king and a great man according to a culture other than the Kingdom? Read Luke 22:25-26 here. It is supposed to be different for those that call themselves a child of God. The great leaders are great at serving others. They are less concerned about their own rank, and more concerned about building others.

Titles, and status carry no transformational power. Jesus living through you as you serve Him carries transformational power. As you serve Him, and serve others you get to see lives transformed, and that is an amazing thing. Titles, and status do not always give you the ability to influence people. Who you are is what gives you the ability to influence people. We don’t need to look any further than the workplace to understand this. Just because a person carries a title of manager, executive, or CEO does not mean they can influence people. If they are a bad person, and a bad person to work for the people will leave. However, an actual leader that serves his or her people has the influence to keep people with them even when they are offered more money, or benefits somewhere else.

I believe in order to live a kingdom first life we must serve others. I also believe that when we are faithful in this area our Father will promote us into an area of more influence with or without titles. Whatever you do, and whatever your title is, do it all in the name of Jesus.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi