Some of you may not know that I am the daughter of a minister. I was raised going to church three times a week–once on Wednesdays and twice on Sundays. From ages 11 to 17, I attended different Christian schools which had weekly chapels. My father also preached and attended (with myself and sisters) many revivals. For those of you unfamiliar with what a revival is (or was), it was a week or two weeks where you had service every single night. I continued to attend church after my graduation for a couple of years. That is 19-20 years of countless church services, the vast majority preached by a relative (my mother’s father and four of my uncles are also ministers).
Growing up in a church pastored by my father, I feel like I was exposed to what the church should be. We were taught to minister through charity. We had small churches with uncomfortable wooden pews and old hymnals, second (or third) hand instruments and unimpressive sound systems. Instead of going on road trips to amusement parks, our youth groups organized missions where we volunteered at local shelters and soup kitchens.
As a pastor, my father’s salary was whatever was left from tithes and offerings after all the bills for the church were paid. We didn’t have a lot growing up but if ever a need arose, we were the first expected to sacrifice in order to meet it. I remember years when we didn’t know if we were going to even have a Christmas but my dad loaded up a full car of groceries and had us come along to help him deliver them to a family who had a greater need. I remember my dad giving my bicycle to a homeless man so that he would have a way to get himself to a job. And I remember that there wasn’t much complaint about it at the time. It was just understood that we were to live a life of service.
The other day, someone asked me why I so despise going to church now. They assumed, as I’m sure many do, that it’s a result of my parents ‘forcing’ me to go to church throughout my youth. They couldn’t be more wrong. I loved going to church when my dad was the pastor. I looked forward to it. I could listen to him preach and know that his message didn’t end at the doors of the vestibule. I believed in what he preached and I believed in charity. I didn’t mind going without the name brand clothes or the bike because I was taught the value of things at a young age and I gained more from giving than I ever did from receiving.
Churches today have lost their way. They spend their money on cosmetic uplifts for their buildings; new additions, new seating, new sound equipment, new this, new that. They have “ministers” who “preach” one thing, then leave the church parking lot and live something else. Their pastors are driving the nicest cars on the lots, their kids are the most spoiled of the congregation. Youth groups are being coddled because the focus is no longer in teaching them truths but in getting a larger number in attendance. It’s all about the numbers now and it is no longer about the people.
The Church has lost its way. Ministers have become so obsessed with filling seats that they have forgotten why it was once so important to them to fill those seats. They no longer teach the truth; how can they? Teaching the truth offends people. They tiptoe around uncomfortable messages that today’s people most desperately need to hear. They only teach the uplifting themes; the SAFE themes.
The worst part, though, is that they no longer minister to the poor. The poor don’t put in the money for those fancy upgrades to their buildings or to fill their pockets. The poor are no longer the church’s responsibility. It sickens me to the point of fury to think about it. When you ask a minister today how well their church is doing, they want to talk to you about the numbers. They want to rattle off about how many members they have and how much money they’re bringing in. They want to boast of their new sound system or how the youth group just took a weekend trip to Cedar Point that they raised funds for. They no longer measure their success in how many lives were saved and changed and bettered through their ministry. They wouldn’t be able to, because they no longer minister.
If my dad was still pastoring a church, which he isn’t, I would attend. If I lived in the same state as any of my uncles, I would attend their churches. If I lived in a state with a minister that I could hold any respect for, I would attend. But I don’t. I refuse to attend a “service” that is about worshiping one’s self. That’s religion, and I don’t buy into religion. I want a relationship. I want to believe in what someone is saying to me. I want to see it in their lives, not just in their pre-orchestrated feel-good speeches. I don’t want a minister who tries so hard to be of the world. If I wanted the world, I would just stay in the world.
The Church is dying. In a lot of places, the Church is already dead. People wonder why Christians are so heavily targeted by those who seem to hate them? It’s because Christians, as are presented to those who don’t know any better, are hypocritical, judgmental, ignorant fakes. Until you teach the world what a Christian truly is–a person who strives to be Christ-like through ministering to a lost and dying world–Christians will NEVER make any difference. Never.
So, why do I hate church? I don’t. I just don’t see any churches around anymore.