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Christianity Dying

October 8, 2010

How do you define Christianity?

I am afraid that our generation may be the generation that kills the church as we know it in our country. While other countries like South Korea and Kenya are exploding, for the first time in our country’s history, Christians are not the majority. It seems funny, but we are the second largest country that other countries send missionaries to, besides China. They are trying to help us.

What is happening?

Well as I see it, there are two big problems, and three major groups of thought, the first one is many people are moving deeper into their spiritual walk with God. These people are tired of the lack of intimacy and trust of the corporate body, and are looking to small groups and home churches to fulfill the need for connection. The problem is they take the same mentality and structure that has been programmed into their heads into this new environment (Not good). They are tired of the church trying to be all things to all people, because churches seem to spread their resources to thin; they see the church doing more damage than good. This group is tired of shallow Christianity, and they are leaving the church with nowhere to go.

The next major group basically is fed up with the church for the same reason, but they are just there for their kids to get a good foundation for morality. They want to go to Sunday school and service, and then go home to their culture created lives, and live how they want too. They long for structure and morality only, and the church is trying to be more than it should be in their eyes as well. They are tired of the crap, and they are leaving the church.

Then there is the group that is holding on to the past; they haven’t figured out yet that the brick and mortar concept of Christianity is not working. Their god has become the connection to the facility, just like a wife has for her home. This group is the biggest problem, because they believe if you could just get more people in the door, Christianity would flourish. This is the group that is running the other two groups out of the church. I counted 11 church buildings on my way home yesterday from my office (only a four mile drive) covering five denominations; wake up people that model is not working!!!!

So what is the real problem?

It is really a simple equation that needs to change. Reason needs to be replaced with heart, and we need to start living everyday of our life following the red words in the Bible, beginning with go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). But Mike, I don’t know how to make disciples in my everyday life; then read and study the Book! Church should be everyday all day of your life! You are the Church! Do something with your life; live in a bigger story!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Ralph K McLelland permalink
    October 8, 2010 7:45 am

    Some years ago I was on a church committee to discuss the vision of our church and more specifically how do we reach the unchurched in our community. As the meetings progressed we kept coming up with new programs, building additions and proposed renovations to our current buildings. Most of the plans centered around childrens programs. Some of these plans were implemented and seem to be doing what they were designed to do, reach the children. During this process the simple thought occured to me, We need to be living more from the Heart. Until I get my Heart right none of the things listed above really matter. New programs, building renovations and new and bigger buildings are not the answer until the people get their Hearts right. I have to continually uncover and expose my Heart felt desires that God put there. The community, my band of brothers, that I surround myself with allows me to do that. It is all about the relationships that are built on mutual trust that is gained between men by sharing their story. It is the only way to live. My heart has to be exposed. Thanks Mike for helping me and many others see life throught the eyes of our Heart.I can’t wait to see where all this takes us.
    Ralph

    • October 8, 2010 12:35 pm

      The more we gain trust and intimacy in our walk the better our lives are together. It amazes me that we think that Christians should immediately begin to serve when they have no idea what love is. I love you, and I know you love me, and I am proud we are on this walk together.

  2. Roane Hunter permalink
    October 8, 2010 8:58 am

    This is an email I sent to our Men’s Group that I wanted to share. We had one of our young guys share his story this morning and I read your blog when I got to the office so I forwarded this to my group and a few old friends as well. Mike, thanks for being who you are!

    Email follows:

    This morning was just another great model of the power of our stories and how God uses this to reveal Himself to us and through us – thanks Drew for daring to reveal and receive!!

    The link below is from Mike McDade’s blog – I read it this morning and it speaks directly to why we do what we do and share our lives and our stories. Obviously, not a coincidence as we know there is no such thing and I wanted to pass it along to you.

    Mike is a dear brother and friend of mine – who, by his life and example encourages and is encouraging me to step out of the box into God’s great adventure and calling in my own life. Mike stepped out of the box several years ago, walking away from his comfortable existence in the corporate world and went back to RTS, earned his MFT degree, worked as a janitor to make it through grad school and support his family, and ultimately followed God’s call to Colorado where he is building his counseling practice and continuing his passion for men’s ministry. Mike has had a temendous impact through leading men into a greater purpose and vision for their lives by helping them discover and connect their hearts to their faith and learning to live from their heart rather than duty and obligation and he has been faithful to that calling. And Mike has an incredible story – I call him my “crazy Christain brother” because I swear we have to be blood related as well as spirit related!……..Mike, I love you bro!

    If you get a chance check out his blog I encourage you to do so – good stuff – you can subscribe to it as well. Mike has a voice that needs to be heard – a voice calling us out of churchianity into being fully devoted followers of Christ and Christ alone!

    Bend the sails!

    • October 8, 2010 12:31 pm

      Wow Roane! Thanks for the kind words. I love the fact that you call me “crazy Christian Brother”. You are my brother, and I love the fact that you are stepping out into the unknown with God. You will catch a lot of stones from those who don’t understand your walk with God, but you will catch a lot of men who would otherwise perish, happy fishing Roane. Love you brother!

  3. October 8, 2010 9:23 am

    Mike, I really appreciated the blog and think as the church trying to love the people around us, we need to be having these types of discussions all the time. I was processing a little and had a few thoughts.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with brick and mortar per se, it keeps us dry when it snows and being dry is not bad. But perhaps in trying to reach our culture, we have bought into the “Field of Dreams” concept of ministry a little too much, which says: “If you build it, they will come!” and from what I have read over and over again, Jesus never said, “if you build it, they will come”. His command was a little different, “Go” just like you mentioned in the blog. He said “Go” a whole lot!
    Also, I think it should be said that institution and Facility based ministry is not wrong for everyone. There are alot of lives that are impacted for the cause of Christ by churches that are doing ministry in the context of a “ministry campus” and that should be appreciated. With that being said, everyone does not wear the same style or size of clothing, why would we try to put the same style of church on everyone. Somewhere along the way, we began to believe that if this style works for me, it should work for everyone. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever; but I don’t really believe the church is supposed to look the same whether it exists in China, Peru, or Ft. Collins. The church is a living, breathing organism that Jesus chose to share His Good News, the method of sharing and the method of loving may look a little different because Paul was a little different in his personality than Peter was.
    I have rattled enough, thanks for the spark Mike! I appreciate it!

    • October 8, 2010 12:28 pm

      I got to give you the rain comment! Love your heart brother for the body of Christ and whatever form it takes. You are a true man of God that I respect and admire.

  4. Greg Sump permalink
    October 8, 2010 10:22 am

    I couldn’t disagree more. The problem isn’t with the Church, the problem is with the post enlightenment individualism and pride of post modern christians. Everyone has been taught that their way is the right way so they go off and start their “own brand” of christianity. Instead of more freedom to worship they in reality have less freedom since their freedom is their own narrow doctrinal view. The more splinters, the more doctrines, the less freedom.

    As the Church disintegrates in the name of “spriituality” the body of believers cease to be an effective force in society, each going their own way, doing their own “thing”, and having it their “way”.

    The simple fact, to anyone who has “ears to hear and eyes to see”, is that our society/country is far worse off than we were say, in the 1700’s when there were only a relatively few denominations and all of our institutions were predominantly religious, especially our universities.

    Your first point is logically false. You make the false assumption that you cannot attain intimacy and trust within the Church. I suggest you are in the wrong Church. Perhaps it is not the Church that is failing you but you who are failing the Church. Too often today Christians are not as concerned about the body of Christ as they are about their own spirituality? When something in their Church starts to turn them away they act like children and “pick up their toys and go home”. Instead of working within the Church to heal and unite. It is always easier to point a finger than to pick up the shovel and do the heavy lifting. Your comment about the Church trying to all things to all people is a great example of this skewed attitude.

    I agree with point number two. There are too many “pew potatoes”, cultural Christians, and nominal Christians today. Again the proof can be easily found in the reality of our culture. The problem is not the Church, but those within it. If we were all true “lights” and sold-out, solid disciples of Christ, not just in declaration but in fact this would not be so.

    Your third point reveals your postmodern perspective. Old is bad, new is good. Orthodoxy is bad, new age Chrisitan spirituality is good. Here I can only suggest you take a journey, through that old book the Bible and spend some time reading the great Christian spiritual giants of the past and studying the Church from Acts to the present. Tried and true (2,000 years) of Christian worship and traditions do not need to be abandoned in favor of a new individualism founded on Christian exegesis that is as novel as the writer who pens it thinks it is. I recommend Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. He answers these questions, more than 100 years ago,far more elegantly than I.

    The Chruch Christ founded was intended to be holy, Catholic (meaning universal), and Apostolic. Christianity needs to unite not divide into islands of individual monasticism.

    • October 8, 2010 12:26 pm

      Greg,

      I welcome comments and I love opinions. I counsel a lot of pastors across this country, and they don’t have the ability to have intimacy with the body, because if they admit sins, struggles or even mental illness in their life they feel they will be condemned. Many of these men tell me that I am the only person who knows them well, and many of these men are leaving the church. Statement one is true, and if people keep believing that it is not we will slowly go the path of Europe. I aslo know hundreds maybe thousands of people who have left the church because of judgment from being to spiritual. Go figure. To say that post-modernism has not effected my own thoughts would be a lie. Post-modernism is affecting every aspect of our lives. If the Jews of the day when Jesus was upsetting their apple cart understood the categories of modernism, postmodernism, existentialism and even desim as we do I think they would have put Jesus in all of the categories. All of postmodernism is not bad.

      I am glad we agree to number two; being luke warm is just not in the cards if you call yourself a follower.

      On number three, I wish you really knew my heart on this part. I drive a 1973 Mustang as my daily driver. I restore old funriture and houses, and I love old churches. I love old things, but when things begin to fall apart for whatever the reason, you have to look under the covers to see why! That is exactly what Jesus did, what Martin Luther did, what Dr. Martin Luther King did. There are just times that you must face the facts.

      Love your comments; respect your opinion and honor your courage. I hope you will pray for me as I will pray for you!

  5. Blake Scafidel permalink
    October 8, 2010 3:55 pm

    Mike I totally AGREE! I think we’ve allowed a living, breathing, vibrant relationship with God to become distilled and determined by a dysfunctional system called the Institutional Church. I believe the Church that Jesus spoke of was the Body of Christ–God’s people everywhere walking with Him and living in commUnity with one another. I dont think it was ever intended to be defined by a location or a group, but rather to be a visible representation of the Spiritual Kingdom that is our true destiny and true reality.

    It’s so hard when you grow up being told ‘the way it is’ to ever consider that our understanding of Church may have been malformed by the weekly messages we have heard for most of our lives in the Institution and the many ‘theory lessons’ that rarely reflected our true journey with Christ. The problem I see is that God doesn’t seem to be influenced in either direction…so he speaks and works regardless of the venue we choose. When we see Him working in the Institution, we immediately assume that this is his preferred method and many often accept that as a reality, put their minds in neutral and never look back–always searching for answers from a pulpit or bible study, only to take on more and more guilt and shame, sadly spending a lifetime under the weight of duty and obligation. Add this to the fact that God apparently only speaks Greek and Hebrew…and you’ve created miles of distance between the One who chooses to make His home in our hearts and speak intimately with us.

    But Jesus said ‘I have come to give you LIFE!’ and, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’–these things just dont add up with the modern Institutional Church that seems more focused on DOing than BEing. We’ve turned the letters of Paul into yet another legalistic system of rules and regulations because we are unwilling to take the risk of walking with the Father who invites us to face our fears and step out into the sometimes raging waters of His love and grace.

    I guess we could all just live safe, simple lives…somehow I think God loves us still. But I choose to walk the Narrow Path that isn’t always clear and sometimes gets, well, downright scary! But seeing God change me from the inside-out gives me a more settled and secure heart that is growing in trust, instead of just a lot of head knowledge that–when the battles rages–only distracts me and causes me to sink to the bottom of the ocean of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    Mike…you have so encouraged me to step out of the boat and follow that still small voice in my heart that whispers to me about the Father’s love. I’m learning to live loved and love others because of that. Thanks for being a brother and friend and helping me redefine the image of who I am that was falsely presented to me by the Institution–even well meaning brothers and sisters in Christ! I’m grateful to share this exciting journey with you! I love you bro!!

  6. Jorge Liceaga permalink
    October 12, 2010 6:31 pm

    Mike,

    No wonder I felt an immediate connection with you last year. I meet you one time and hear your words and I’m hooked. Brother, you hit this one out the park. That one is high and over the left field fence onto Waveland Avenue!! HOLY COW! The Church has failed in its mission which is making disciples. Trying to be too many things to too many people is not what Christ called his body to do. I told my next door neighbor Sunday afternoon that Church alone is not enough and never will be until it starts to look like the groups that come out of deer camp. When I start talking about the groups I am in with non-participants, I get this look like I am some sort of alien from a far distant planet that has powerful body odor. What is the matter with folks? Pastors are not pointing the flock to knowing and being known. I have never heard that from the pulpit! What is it going to take? Your blog got me fired up bro. Thanks for your boldness.

    Jorge Liceaga

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