Why I’m Quitting Church part 6

This Church is too big.    We are quitting to go to a smaller church.

I’ve heard this a few times over the years and it baffles me.  I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of others who feel this way and it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

In my experience, I’ve found that those who leave for this reason see church in a way that is more me centered than they centered.  It’s the “big fish in a little pond” way of thinking.  Some people feel in order for church to be a family, everyone must know each other well.  The focus in more on the lifestyle than on the mission.

Some feel they should know everyone in the church community.  They like the small church feel. They like what I call the “Cheers factor”, you know, “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name”.  I like going to church and I enjoy seeing my friends, but when our church community comes together on the weekends, it must be all about the people who are not a part of our church –the non Christians.  Although I socialize, socializing is not why I come on weekends to our church.  Although I see most of my good friends, this is not why I show up every weekend.  I come to church on weekends to worship God and to serve those who are not yet a part of His kingdom.  The rest of what happens is a benefit.  This must be a part of our church culture.

I’ve also found that most people who say or feel that the church is too big are not a part of a small group.  Our church used to be a lot smaller and every time we came together, it felt like a small group.  We could do a lot together –cookouts, softball games, parties, etc…, but as we began to approach 200, things began to change.   Everybody didn’t know everybody’s name, and everybody didn’t care whether or not you came.  We had to become intentional about our small groups, and when we did, we stepped into a whole new dimension of church culture.  Our church has never been the same, and I can’t imagine ever doing church without small groups.   

Every healthy church will grow, and will eventually lose that small church feel on weekends.  For our church, small groups answers the question “how can we keep the small church feel and yet continue to grow healthier and larger?” 

The church is supposed to be big.  God wants a big family. This is why He told us to go into the entire world.  If you want a small church feel or experience, don’t quit your big church, join a small group.  Being a part of a small group that is part of a healthy growing church is the best of both worlds.

Why I’m Quitting Church Part 5

We are continuing this series of posts on the many excuses I’ve received over the years for why people quit church.  Here’s the next one:

“Your church is only interested in reaching young people.  We want to find a place with people are own age”

At first sight, this may be a valid reason for leaving a church except for a couple of reasons that I want to explain:

First, shouldn’t every church’s priority be about reaching young people?  I’ve learned that most 55 year old and older people pretty much have their lives in order, especially if they attend church.  They’ve been through the toughest times in their lives and worked through them.  They are least likely to make bad moral decisions, become addicts, get divorced, or fall away from the faith. 

On the other hand, people from age 15-40 are susceptible to the previous spiritual and moral failures.  In fact, these are the years that will determine how they will spend the last half of their lives, and there is a constant war going on in their lives for success or failure.

It’s not that we are against people over 55; in fact, I will be 55 one day and that just wouldn’t make a lot of sense.  In fact, we do have people over 50, 60, and even 70 years old who attend our church.  The thing is, we have determined that we must connect with the younger generations if we are going to have them in our churches when they are 30 years old and older.  Our goal is to have a church of all ages with the older and experienced teaching the younger (I know…that is in the bible, I never said it was my original idea)

So our target is the younger generations….starting at infant age, through young married stages of life.  We are also interested in reaching the older generations who are interested in helping us reach the next generations.  Believe me, if they have no interest in reaching the next generations, they won’t endure our rock style music and our casual laid back teaching style and attire. 

A church has to choose.  Yes we want to be a blessing to all ages, but we have to choose a target, and our target is and will always be the next generations.

Why I’m Quitting Church part 4

Just today, I was sitting in a restaurant when a woman I know walked up to me and asked how we (Baylor and I) were doing.  She commented on how much Baylor had grown, then she moved on to her table.  Of course, Baylor looked at me and said, “Dad, who was that?”  I looked at him and said (you guessed it), “That was someone who used to go to our church.  This lady actually left our church a few years back for reasons that made sense.  When I see her, I think of what a good person she is and I admire her for her decision.  It was the right one.  

However, most of the people leave for reasons that I don’t agree with or understand.  For example, here is one of the reasons that confound me:

“I’m not being fed at this church” 

Usually, what a person is trying to say is that there is some kind of spiritual need that is not being met by our church.  It could be that they are not getting what they need out of the worship, the home teams (Friends), or the teaching/preaching of the word. 

Here’s my answer:  Our job as ministers, and as a ministry is not to feed you.  Our job to provide environments where you can be fed.  Our job is to provide a place where you can learn and connect with others and with God.  But you must feed yourself. 

Let’s say I were to walk into Mickey Mantles in Bricktown, OKC.  The staff walks out and takes my order and brings the five courses of the meal.  I sit there for a while and after a time, I get up, walk over the the manager, and say to him “I am leaving and never coming back”.  He inquisitively asks me why I am unsatisfied with the restaurant, “What did we do”. Then, I look at him with all seriousness and say “I was not fed!”  What do you think he would do?  I think he would look at me like I was crazy and say “Sir, we did everything we could do to make your dining experience wonderful.  We cooked your food to perfection, we served it in a timely manner, and our wait staff was friendly.  Putting the food into your mouth is your job, not ours”.

It works the same way with Church and God’s people.  God has provided us with the Word.  He has provided us with salvation.  He has established a church where we can serve and be served.  If we aren’t being fed, it’s our own fault.

I believe that a person who uses the “I’m not being fed” excuse simply doesn’t fit in to what we are trying to do…..our mission.  I’ve had to learn that our church isn’t for everyone and everyone is not for our church.  This was hard for me to learn, but when I learned to release people to God, I stopped stressing so much when people left.

Why I’m Quitting Church Part 3

One again, we will look at some excuses for why people quit church.  Here’s another one I’ve heard throughout the years:  “This church isn’t spiritual enough”

This one I’ve heard mostly from Pentecostal, Assembly of God, and Charismatic Christians.  Once a man told me that he did not feel comfortable expressing his worship in our church.  I looked at him and asked what kind of “expressing” he is not getting to do.  He said he wanted to run in the church and maybe fall on his face during worship experience.  I just told him it may not be appropriate to do that in our worship experiences since we minister to so many non-Christians. 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth about how they were unorganized in their worship experiences and that their disorganization was causing more harm than good.  There are over 150 churches in our county for a reason:  people have diverse opinions about church and church worship styles.  Our style and purpose must support our mission –to reach our generation for Christ.  I’ve found that if your friends think you are crazy, they won’t listen to you; and if you act crazy or weird at your church worship experiences they will think you are crazy.  They will not come and bring their friends and you will see very few people saved. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I was raised with a Pentecostal upbringing.  I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I’ve also seen some crazy stuff in church that was blamed on the Holy Spirit.  When we read the bible, we see that the gifts are subject to the person with the gifts.  This means nobody is forced to roll around, jump, kick, scream, shout, fall backwards, throw confetti, laugh, or shake his/her butt while being filled with the Spirit (Yes, I’ve seen people do every one of these things in church).  If we are not careful, we will have barriers (us in particular) that keep people from knowing Christ. 

I believe that the most spiritual thing a person can do is not speak in tongues, but love his neighbor.  Here’s something else that addresses the evidence of being  filled with the Spirit:

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Gal 5:22: New Living Translation.

I think people who say our church isn’t spiritual enough simply want freedom to act however they want to during the worship.   Should church be just about you?  About me, and what I want?  Shouldn’t it be about the people we are trying to reach and shouldn’t we want to eliminate any barriers or offences (except when the Word offends)? 

I think so…what about you?

Why I’m Quitting Church Part 2

In the early years of ministry I used to fret, loose sleep, and even blame myself when people left our church.  However over the past years I’ve learned a couple of things from people leaving. 

I’ve learned the difference between what people say and what they mean when they tell me they have to leave.   Let’s look at some of the things I’ve heard as reasons for quitting:

“This church is for the spiritually immature and I want a church that is a little deeper”   

I’ve heard this reason a few times and here is my answer: 

The most mature thing a body can do is reproduce and grow others.  I’ve been a part of other churches where it seemed that almost no one ever came to Christ.  I wanted to be a part of a church where people came to Christ and their lives were changed.  As a pastor, I’ve found that we must be intentional about reaching our non-Christian community.  I’ve discovered that the the average 20-40 year old family man doesn’t give a rat’s spit about exegetics or theology.  He is usually simply trying to stay afloat in life and keep his family together.  Our messages at Faithco are simple and relevant on purpose.    The gospel isn’t supposed to be hard to understand –look at the way Jesus taught, he told stories that gave heavenly insight (parables). 

I believe that I can preach any style at any level to just about any people in our culture; I’ve been preaching since I was ten years old.  I choose the style and content that I use based on who we are trying to reach. We reach 2 types of people here at Faithco:  the non-Christian, and those who value reaching the non-Christian.   Don’t get me wrong, we are into discipleship, fellowship, service, and other aspects of ministry.  However, we exist for those who are not there on Sundays –the non-Christian

Truly, the most mature thing a church can do is win souls….frequently.

Why I’m Quitting Church

The other day, my son and I left a business where I had been talking to a friend.  When we left, Baylor (my son) asked me, “Dad, who was that?”  Without thinking, I answered, “That was someone who used to go to our church.”  Those words stayed with me a while as I begin to think about all the people I run into who “used to go to our church”.

I have to admit that it can be a little frustrating as a pastor to see so many people walk in and out of our church over the years.  People leave our church for various reasons: relocation because of work, family issues, economic reasons, etc… Those are legit.  Some people leave for reasons that to me, don’t make a lot of sense.  These are the stories I am going to share with you for the next few posts.  I would like to share with you some scenarios, excuses, and reasons I’ve experienced while serving in ministry.   

Feel free to share some of your comments and reasons you’ve heard for why people quit church.  I’m all ears (or eyes).

Live2Give

Faithco is a community of believers who are endeavoring to lead today’s generations to be passionate follwers of Christ.  We feel our mission is to reach out of the people around us with not only the gospel, but also with the love and actions of Christ.   Last January, we implemented something called Live2Give, a motto we use to explain our community efforts to bless others we come in contact with every day. 

You may have seen the blue wrist bands we give away at Guest Services.   These Live2Give wristbands remind us of our commitment to be a blessing to our world.  Also, you may have seen the Live2Give cards we give away at Guest Services.  Our people are leaving these in the drive by windows at places like Starbuck’s and Sonic to bless people who follow them in line. 

The point is not to push our agenda, or to advertise our church.  It is to remind us of our mission, and to be a blessing to our world.  I found our Live2Give video on Youtube if you would like to check it out:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHMOTvFvmLA

Be a blessing to someone who needs you… TODAY.