Thursday, October 11, 2012

Americans: Church in a Building, Church in No Building, or No Church at All?

What is happening to America's churches?   There seems to be a lot of confusion and mayhem.  Pastors like Ed Young with mega churches live in million dollar mansions.   Celebrity pastors are authors, write book endorsements for their celebrity pastor author friends.  Conferences are held with more celebrity pastors sharing the platform with their bosom buddies who are also celebrity pastors.  

I found two articles talking about the changing religious landscape in America and posted some key notes from the articles.  Click on the titles for the complete articles.  

Survey:  One in five Americans has no religion
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.
The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.

And here's another article on religion in the US:

Survey:  Protestants are no longer majority in US 
Washington (CNN) – Following a string of recent developments that suggest waning Protestant power like the first Supreme Court with no Protestant justices, and a Protestant-free Republican presidential ticket a new Pew survey finds that Protestants are no longer the majority in the United States.
At the release of the Pew survey, John Green, a senior adviser at Pew, quoted historian Robert Wuthnow in characterizing the changes as part of a wider “restructuring of American religion.”
“The core of this phenomenon is many of the older distinctions that characterize American religion …  are being replaced with a new kind of religion,” Green said.
The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

One of the biggest eye-openers for me with the media exposure was the amount of support from atheists, agnostics, and also Christians who no longer go to traditional churches whatsoever.   Many of the self-proclaimed atheists said they used to attend church, but left after bad church experiences.  Something clearly is going on.   I pulled these comments from news articles on my case or comments from my blog:

Yes there are true Christians in America, but you won't find us in churches......

This is exactly why I do not attend church. Too much "Blind Faith" among the followers, free thinking is admonished and mind control is the norm. Women are treated a second class and the preacher is the mouth-piece of God. Wake up people and snap out of it. Organized religion is scary crazy!
It's time to ban organized religions and the cults that mimic them. They are nothing but a manner in which to control the masses and lately seem to promote hatred, violence, racism, bigotry and intolerance. One does not need to belong to a religion to have faith and believe in a higher power, nor does one need religion to promote morals.

Would Christ recognize Christianity as it is practiced today? For the most part, no.

It's amazing. When the church is being judged and criticized they can't take it but they have no problem dishing it out to others. Just another reason the church needs to disappear.

Christianity becomes antithetical when it preaches exclusivity and involves itself it politics and business. But this seems to be the track that many if not most churches are now taking and is anti-christ. Jesus showed what the passion of christ really was when he went to the temple and threw out the merchants and politicians. He was crucified by those powers threatened by his revelations of the mercenary intentions of religion and church leaders. The ignorance of churches that persecute is criminal and only a secular government is capable of recognizing that or ends up washing its hands of the self serving demands of religious and business leaders.

Religion is a b@tch isnt it! I left "the church" several years ago and won't go back.....similar story to this. We sat the leaders of the very large DFW area church down and told them in no uncertain terms, that if they started a single rumor, a lawsuit would follow. Others that had left were talked about by the leadership...they are sinners, they have fallen into sin, their marriage is weak, their faith is weak, they are not committed, they don't care, on and on. We were youth pastors....volunteers, cause I wont take money for telling some about Christ, the church leadership was very well paid and after being exposed to "behind the scenes" we had to leave. I will NOT attend organized named church anymore. I study, pray and live life to the fullest. I hope this woman stands strong.

Yep, exactly. I know what you are saying, I've been there. I was a church secretary for 14 years, played the piano and coordinated their worship team. When I started to question their ethics in some people's lives and they way they were controlling the congregation in the direction of their teaching and our worship. That was it for us... They were even telling people that I was possessed and insane to discredit me just for my questions to them! They are the ones that pushed it into the public realm by their own fear and guilt. Yet finally I had never been healthier.

And I've never been happier. I will not go back. I have my faith and beliefs, but it has nothing to do with being part of brainwashed people that are trapped in a building.

I made a decision to leave the "institutional church" over a year ago (for a number of reasons), and have no regrets. Reading about your lawsuit and spiritual abuse experiences, simply reinforces my decision so that I have no desire to belong to a church ever again. Honestly, who needs all that drama??? Given this blog (and others like it) as well as my own spiritual abuse experiences, I have concluded that "church" is a stressful activity that I can certainly do without! :)

People walking away from institutional religion is not sad, Julie. Notice that the writer said he or she had NO REGRETS? That institution is not the body of Christ. We are His body. Those of us whom He has redeemed by His blood. Those of us whom God has called out, you could not pay us a salary to go back. We love our Lord, and when He is not welcome in the churches, we don't want to be there either.

American version of christianity is rather detestable. Its Political, commercialized and indoctrinating. People in general are ill-informed and chruches become kind of master of them. Churches do some good but overall people should stay away for religious institution. 
Believing in God has nothing to do with following a religion. These are two distinct attributes.

There is something about every church that I have issue with, whether it's their doctrine, or name it claim it, or finding glitter on their hands (It's a sign!!) and crowing like a rooster, or pastor seems to not look you in the eye when he talks to you but seems fixated on other areas (even when you're dressed modestly and not particularly curvy), another pastor seems wayyyy too interested in the children and raising red flags all over the place, I could go on and on and on. I have to be careful that I'm not taking on the attitude of the abusive church that said "we're the only place" but be discerning at the same time.
The church is a mess! And I am hurting and have no idea who or what to trust any more. My main prayer is "Lord, help me... help us ... help our family." I have a son who doesn't know if he believes any more. It is heartbreaking. The one thing *I* know is that God is there ... and He knows right where I am.

All I know is that after reading all of the above, I just want Jesus.  It's easy to give it all up amidst this muck.  We cannot do that.  I am so thankful that He is with me - - He never abandons me - He is with me in the morning when I rise and He can walk me through all of this difficult church muck.

The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
    but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.  Proverbs 11:20


  1. Julie Anne

    Thanks for this....
    Seems lots of folks are recognizing and leaving - “The Corrupt Religious System.”
    I never left “The Church of God - The Body of Christ” (I love His Church.)

    I left “The Corrupt Religious System.” - That has damaged so many.

    Corrupt - Dictionary

    1- showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

    2- in a state of decay; rotten or putrid.

    3- debased or made unreliable by errors or alterations.

    Seems to me - "The Whole Religious System," - for the past 1700 years, with the
    Multiple thousands of denominations, movements, heirarchy, traditions of men,
    “Titles” and “Positions” NOT in the Bible, - has been, and is - *Totally Corrupt.*

    Filled with those who are after
    1- money and personal gain and have
    3- made the system (Today’s so-called church.) unreliable by errors or alterations
    to the Bible, and how the Bible describes - “the Church of God.”
    And because of these errors and alterations
    2- The Abusive Religious System is in a state of decay; rotten and putrid.

    And folks are leaving by the millions.

    In my experience...
    When folks support, with finances and attendance, “a Corrupt Religious System,”
    they just encourage those with the “Titles” - the power, profit and prestige,
    to continue to - perpetrate the myth - that believers should “Go To Church.”
    And when they go to church - they are going to “the Church of God.”

    Hmmm? In the Bible?
    Did anyone ever - Go to church? Join a church? Give money to a church?
    Tithe to a church? Lead a church? Pastor a church? Plant a church?

    Nope - None of that is in the Bible.

    Does anyone know what the word “church” means? In the Bible?

    Haven’t we deceived the very people we’re supposed to be reaching out to?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    1. I sometimes get torn when I read your comments, Amos, because so much of what you write rings true for me, yet at the same time, I think I could sit at Ken or Craig's church quite comfortably and know that I have someone who is caring for my soul and guiding me. I can't deny that I have been to good churches (where there are titles and hierarchy) that has worked. Oh . . . the confusion. Give me Jesus - - - going to listen to that song again.

    2. Julie Anne

      Yup - I know how you feel. I struggled for a long time with the confusion too.

      I like what you wrote in the last paragraph...
      "All I know is that after reading all of the above, I just want Jesus."

      All the confusion. All the "spiritual abuse." All the unspoken rules to conform to.

      Had a benefit - This whole confusing abusing mess - drove me to Jesus.

      Now it's a lot more simple - Just give me Jesus. ;-)

    3. You really can't go wrong there, can you? :)

  2. Here’s an interesting book by George Barna - “Revolution”

    For those diapointed with todays so-called church - And have left - You’re NOT alone.

    It’s Worth reading the reviews.

    Barna is a christian Pollster -
    He has tracked the millions who are leaving “the Corrupt Religious System.”
    The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation, the IRS calls church.

    In order to find the Jesus, in the Bible.


    From the Back Cover
    Millions of believers have stopped going to church...
    and chosen to be the church instead.

    Research by renowned pollster George Barna points to a hidden Revolution—one that will impact every Christian believer in America. Millions of committed Christ-followers, dissatisfied with the church experience, have stopped attending on Sunday mornings. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the church?

    In this groundbreaking book, Barna examines the state of the church today—and compares it to the biblical picture of the church as God intended it to be. He documents how and why a new brand of devout “Revolutionaries” is abandoning the local church building while attempting to become the church that Christ commissioned us to be.

    This Revolution will challenge you with

    the straightforward biblical guidelines for the church
    7 core passions of a Revolutionary
    a daring redefinition of the church as we know it.

    Maybe you’re afraid of the changes to come.
    Maybe you’ve been waiting for this moment to arrive.

    Either way, the Revolution is here.

  3. Robb Ryerse recently asked on his Grenzian ( blog..."What has Grace done for you?"

    I just started writing and thought I would share it here.

    The certainty of "black and white" beliefs within the fundamentalist arena is at times quite comforting--IF you are on the INSIDE of the arena. Step out of that circle and suddenly the cold dark winds blow, and you are left alone. I have experienced this many times in my spiritual history.
    I don't mean to be a rebel as far as "BELIEF" goes...but the unfairness of it within the fundamentalist movement just makes me raw in my soul.
    One of the times I felt abandoned was when I left a very fundamental Baptist Bible College, Dr Jim Vineyard's church in Oklahoma City-Windsor Hills Baptist Church and Oklahoma Baptist college. The church preached (and if you didn't follow the rules your life work of being Led by God to do anything was seriously compromised), so when it was 90 degrees outside, women wore "Hose" (nylons to anyone outside the arena) open toed shoes and NEVER pants (which outlined a woman's thighs so that men would be so uncontrollably filled with lust they would "ACT" on it and it would be the woman's fault for wearing pants.) I remember over 3,000 in church, and Dr. Vineyard stopping to call a woman a whore who wore pants. (I am not kidding). Maybe some reader here will understand the HUGEness of even naming names here. But..I digress...
    For various and sinful reasons, I left the school, rather than be "disciplined" and censured by the school.

    The students (one that "I" led to the Lord) was ordered to have NO communication with me. We had been best friends, and worked at Dairy Queen as Managers together. She was also from Michigan, single and her parents thought she went insane. I guess because of my involvement with her, she did.

    What did Grace do? Grace taught me that I didn't have to be a part of a school that lessened my worth, that condoned marital physical beatings, that interfered with the primacy of the family, that threatened one's calling if you disagreed.
    Grace more than anything, gave me HOPE. Hope that God was somehow above all this ridiculousness, and Hope that God had more freedom in mind for me. Hope that my personality was made by God, and could be used by God to serve in unique ways.
    Yep...Grace gave me Hope.

    Your thoughts?

    1. klasieprof, thank you for sharing your story here. I read it and noticed my eyes getting all teary. Blech - more hypocrisy, more rules, more spiritual abuse. It's heart-wrenching and yet hopeful. Yes, I get the HUGEness of naming names. I did it and was sued. Feel free to name names here. Hopefully my blog will be a big wake-up call to bully pastors who think they want to sue people for naming names. They won't win and they will lose a lot of money.

      GRACE = God's riches at Christ's expense. Yes, I think He does want us to experience His grace and riches, not to be bound in legalism, abuse, abandonment. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Ah! Conferences, celebrity pastors, and more celebrity pastors. And more conferences and more books which rehash the same stuff over and over. And more celebrity pastors.

    "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,"

    Just sayin....

    1. David - Good verse! The celebrity pastors are doing such a disservice for Christ because they are in the spotlight, not Christ. They perpetuate the problem by endorsing each others books, sharing podiums with each other, some do huge donations to their church/organization and it is reciprocated. It is not anything related to church/Christianity, but a business. The sad thing is realizing how prevalent it is. If you were to talk to me about this subject a year ago, I would have thought it was predominantly with TBN- or CBN-type pastors, the mega-church pastors, certainly not mainstream conservative Christian groups. Oh no - - - it's everywhere. Wow, my eyes have really been opened.

    2. When you step out of the conservative Evangelical bubble and see it for what it is as an outsider, it looks no different than other corrupt religious traditions. It's not necessarily worse, but it isn't any better although the promoters of the system advertise it as infinitely better and more "biblical." It just isn't. It is as flawed as anything else.

    3. That's interesting, David. One of the common comments I read on the mainstream media regarding my case was that the BGBC lawsuit/behavior sounds like Scientology. Creepy much?


Please refrain from using "Anonymous" as your user ID. Instead, click on Name/URL. In the "name" field, type your pseudonym, ie, Fred Flinstone.

You may leave the URL field blank. Thank you for commenting!

I reserve the right to remove or not publish disruptive and/or rude comments.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.