Monday, December 5, 2011

It's What You Do




I grew up in the South, also known as the Bible Belt. And in the South you go to church. I grew up in Florida and moved to Alabama as a teenager.  I attended church with my family my entire life. As most other southern families do.

There's a cycle I've noticed growing up, and I'm not sure if it's exclusive to the South or if this is the case all over. This is strictly my opinion and observation.

Here's the cycle that I've witnessed:

1) You grow up in church, maybe get baptized, go till you graduate high school then you either

  a) go to college  b)get married  c) work {during this period is when you typically stop going to church}

When you move out from underneath your parents watch you start to navigate the waters on your terms doing things your way, and your parents can't make you go anymore.

Besides, what did you or any of your friends get out of it anyway? Most of them (probably including you) were drunk or high the Saturday night before and were only in church the next morning because momma threatened and drug you there.

You start to feel like the church is filled with nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.

2) You get married then have one or 2 kids of your own. Suddenly going to church seems like the right thing to do. It's what your family and probably the family of your spouse did. Aren't you supposed to when you have kids? So you go.

3) You go, but you don't really get anything out of it. It's good for the kids though. And maybe for your business, good for making contacts or for the boss to see and know you are involved in the community.  You're there physically but not there mentally or spiritually.

Your behavior and attitude doesn't change much outside of the church walls. Life is still hard, so your not quite sure if this church stuff works. Well, maybe it does for some, the "weird ones" but your not weird and your kids won't be either. So we aren't going to take this church stuff too serious or get too deep with it. Just going is enough. 

4) Finally, your kids grow up. And the cycle starts all over with them.

There's nothing wrong with going to church,but today's church is filled with people like this. They only go because it's the "thing to do."  

Did you know the #1 reason new Christians or unbelievers stop going to church or never start is because of how they see these "Christians" behave outside of church?  Their search for answers end; because of what they witness in these "Christians". 

This breaks my heart and I hope it does yours too.

Unless we stop the cycle and are truly changed, heart changed, church will always be just another good thing on our to do list for the week. Until we let the Holy Spirit come in, settle in, unsettle us, and change our hearts then morning worship is nothing more than catching up with the weekly gossip of who did this or said what, a good message by the Pastor, and uplifting singing and music.

Until we realize we can't do this life thing on our own, our way it just doesn't work and it never will without Jesus, and until we can come to church and ask what can I do? How can I help the body of Christ today? 

 We will always miss the point of church. And our kids will too.

What church should be:  It's a time of worship and fellowship with other believers. A time to encourage others in their life, taking time to seek and ask about those that are hurting, only for the reason to pray for them, not to have something to gossip about later. 

We are being watched, like it or not. And it's a big responsibility. Little and big eyes are on us.  So lets be the difference we want to see in the church. Let's drop our guards, drop the fake smiles, and the illusions of "perfect" lives, the gossip and backbiting.

Because if we can't then we are no different than the unbelievers.  Let's be honest and real and then the church will be transformed. We're only deceiving ourselves. We're dividing not uniting. Jesus came to show us how to love, let His work be not in vain.

**It's a dangerous thing growing up believing you are saved when maybe you aren't. Living in an area that is saturated with churches on every corner, growing up knowing what is morally right, and growing up in church make for a lot of head knowledge of Jesus and religion, and make you think yeah,sure I'm a Christian I believe in Jesus. But until Jesus gets into your heart and starts messing with you, your just another fan of his, not a follower.

What about you? Have you grown up in a Bible Belt area, is it hard or easy?

 ***9/20/12 Update~This is one of my very first blog posts :) and we had just moved out of the South, about this time last year. I had a lot on my heart as you can see. I left feeling frustrated and worn down by the church. This is pretty lengthy post for me, sorry, I tried to go in and cut things out, but even still, it's pretty windy.

A podcast I came across this week that talks about this very thing. It's called The Demonic Danger of a Church on Every Corner, hope you have time to check it out {it's the fifth podcast down}!


Linked up at:: Imperfect Prose, Life in Bloom, Thought Provoking Thursdays, Faith Filled Fridays

3 comments :

  1. So true, so so true. But, at the same time, I wonder what happens when we compare this with the complete absence of religion? I personally prefer the more authentic Christianity of a place like London, where I now live and which is not at all culturally Christian. But I don't know that God is more present in London than he is in the towns that have a church on every corner.

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  2. yeah, your right they are both extremes. I want and long for an authentic church home, somewhere where we are able to be freely broken and accepted, flaws and all without the fear of judgement or exile. Maybe we will only experience this kind of love and acceptance in heaven.
    There is the danger living in an area with a church on every street corner, in that you are so saturated by "religion" and going to church because that is what everyone does and fooling yourself into thinking your a Christian, but yet your heart has never come face to face with God. I think it's much harder to be saved in this environment than in an area that will flat out tell you they don't believe.
    Thanks for coming by and commenting, I appreciate you!

    ReplyDelete

  3. Unless we stop the cycle and are truly changed, heart changed, church will always be just another good thing on our to do list for the week.

    oh girl, so true. we're experiencing this right now, this need to bring something to a church instead of getting something from it, this need to make church a family, a home, and not just an obligation. thank you for these challenging thoughts.

    ReplyDelete

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