I meet a lot of people who stopped going. Momma used to say I get my church from the TV. How lazy is that? What about, where two or more gather in my name then I be there also? Was my momma a sofa-side Christian? She grew up under not one but two preacher daddies (both my grandfathers). And therein lies the problem. When church let out on Sunday, folks inside that church let her down starting from the pulpit.
The church has a mighty cross to bear. It is supposed to be that light that attracts. That beacon in darkness, even though it is full of sinners. But when the outside world gets a pew side view of its dullness, its flicker, the church becomes a repellant. I hear it all the time. "The church is full of judgmental hypocrisy." And hence people don't stay. And when they leave, they leave. Like a thief in the night. There is no exit interview asking what could we have done better? They just leave.
Once I took a dear friend of mine down south. Way down south to the bible belt. We attended church of course. The much married pastor of the church hit on her. He leaned in real close and asked my friend for her phone number. Then just minutes later, he preached one get up on your feet spit fire sermon that got folks sanctified up complete with fanning. I just left. No exit interview asking what they could have done better.
I give tens of thousands of dollars to various churches each December. One small church I gave money to for nearly twenty years. My donation was a budget line item it came so consistently. That is until the day I learned that none of the church leaders had bothered to visit my over 90 year old grandmother, their parishioner, in the hospital where she had been for several months. And so my money left. Just like a thief in the night. My money did not even leave a note. It just left.
A close friend of mine told me she attends church but refuses to serve in the church. I asked her why? She said, I don't want to know what I don't know. She says, anytime I get behind the scenes of any church I've attended I never like what I see. I don't want to leave another church because I learned it is far from perfect. I understood what she meant. Because the church, like the church around us, is made up of people and we are all sinners.
The difference I pray is the church in us is striving most to be just like Jesus. And because I believe strongly that most churches are striving to be just like Jesus there is hope. There is hope not only for our body in the church but also for the church body.