I have to say that I like, no, I love excitement in my life and it doesn’t matter what I do, it must be present – and that includes my faith too!
I have spent a lifetime analysing why people buy ‘things’ which is all part of my make-up as a marketer. So when it comes to Church, I’m even more inquisitive.
As a non-Christian I saw in my minds-eye that Church was a dark, grey, almost oppressive environment that was uninviting. Why did I have that impression? I think as a kid growing up and being forced to go to Catholic Church had everything to do with it. Apart from not knowing anything about what was being said and that it all seemed too strange to me.
Happy-clappy or not?
Religion didn’t seem to make anyone happy, except when there was a party going on and the drinks were flowing (well, it was Catholic and the priests were predominately Irish, like the rest of my family).
But that was when I was much younger. After nearly thirty years away from Church I started going again, but this time to the evangelical Church. Over the past six years Liz (my wife) and I went to Church every Sunday without fail. And in the last six months went twice on Sundays. And I can tell you unequivocally that it is not dark and dingy!!!
Earlier experiences aside, the charismatic and evangelical churches (that’s ‘happy-clappy’ to everyone else) are not stale and boring and once you get in to it they can be great fun and seriously uplifting. So why is there a constant exodus?
Five million leave church
In 1960 ten million people went to church. In 2011 five million go to the 50,000 churches in the UK. In simple terms that means 2,000 people leave church every week and have done so for the past 50 years!
There are a variety of explanations; from blaming The Beatles in the 60’s and their much publicised journey to India and their engaging in Eastern religions through to the prophesied ‘great falling away’ of the Church relating to End Times as mentioned in the Bible in 2 Thessolonians 2:3.
Been there, done that!
But for me I simply don’t get it. How could something so serious and exciting as The Bible simply be ignored, waved away like some kind of intrusion into someone’s life. People come out with statements like:
• Oh I did all that when I was a kid
• I don’t believe in all that stuff
• Religion causes wars
• All religions are the same
• Multi-culturalism is about the same god
And the list goes on!
I believe that the main problem is fear:
• Fear of stepping up to the plate
• Fear of living as it says in The Bible
• Fear of ridicule
• Fear of causing offence
• Fear of losing position
• Fear of finding out it’s all true! (The Bible that is)
Just another social club
Charismatic and evangelicalism aside, Church nowadays resembles any other social club. A place filled with people who like to volunteer and those who like ‘socialise’ with like-minded people. So it’s no different to The British Legion!
If the Church is challenged, then one would expect a response along the lines of “we’re not like a social club because we believe in Jesus and The Bible and we follow it” I’d say prove it!!!
Church needs to be challenged along the lines of “what are you believing in God for?” and I mean both meanings; why do you believe and what are you expecting to happen with your faith – Anything?
Faith in God, faith in Jesus and faith in The Holy Spirit is jaw-dropping once you understand what this is all about, but it doesn’t come easy. People expect complete revelation and understanding within a few minutes of discussion with someone in the ‘know’ i.e. a Christian. And if they don’t get their answer they end up contemptuous of faith in God.
We are expected to learn this stuff. To become a doctor takes years of study. Faith in God and committing to eternity is far more important, yet very few people want to put the effort in to understand what God has in store for us.
Stephen Fry’s recent tirade of abuse towards God simply showed his complete lack of understanding of the Bible and faith, not to mention his complete denial of satan. Seems like it was satan 1, God 0. It is impossible to have a discussion about God and not acknowledge that satan has a hand in the bad things that happen on this earth.
No one’s saying it like it is!
Celebrity incidents like this simply add fuel to people’s poor understanding of this core element of how life is to be lived.
The trouble is, I don’t hear Churches publicly praising what the power of God is doing through the people of the Church. And perhaps that’s the problem.
The world has evolved to a state-of-mind that continually plays a saying over and over again in our minds “what’s in it for me?” And when the Church comes along and says “come and join us”, the response is “what’s in it for me” and if the Church can’t answer satisfactorily the ‘customer’ walks away.
Sadly many people in Church say, “well, it’s the Holy Spirits job to convict.” That may be so, but we have to at least have to have a testimony that is attractive. That’s what Jesus did. He healed people, cast out demons and made disciples. People followed him in their thousands.
So what is today’s message about faith?
Firstly, don’t be put off by what you see! God expects us to have a one-to-one personal relationship with Him. We are to acknowledge that Jesus has authority over our lives and what he says goes. Once we understand the priority of things, our place in the world and what it means to be a Christian it’s like the blinkers are taken off and a whole new world is revealed.
But this doesn’t come easy simply because there are forces that don’t want you to learn and understand Christianity and your challenge is to know that you have authority over these forces.
When it comes to the Church, more and more Christians are finding out that many of those who attend Church are identical to those who don’t. They have the same challenges and issues as everyone else. And whilst they may seem to be ‘in the know’, in reality they are just as lost or unconnected as they ever were. But don’t be put off. This is too important to let someone who is blagging it to stop you getting to know Jesus.
This is not for wimps
Christianity is not for wimps, I think the atrocities in the Middle East demonstrate that. Equally, it’s also a refuge for people who are hurting and need a place to rest up.
Knowledge about faith, God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit is the most important issue in all our lives. Don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise. There is only one true God. All religions don’t worship the same god. No other God came in human form and died for us in order that the power would be taken away from the enemy and given to us.
This is so important that the Qur’an instructs Muslims to kill people of The Book, i.e. Jews and Christians. Muslims know that Christians have the power of God and Muslims have the power of Satan (if this seems strange, then it is important you learn about this. The cresent moon on the flags relate to the moon goddess Samiramus and later the Daughters of Allah and the Canaanites). Take a look at
What about people leaving the Church?
The full story and big picture is mind-blowing. It’s not something anyone can instantly pick up, that’s why evangelists and teachers exist, however, we’ve had 2000 years of teaching and slowly but surely more and more people are leaving. And I believe that it’s because the big picture is not being taught. Churches want to maintain the happy-clappy environment and keep bums on seats for the collection, yet we’re past that now.
It’s time for people to be told the complete story and not the watered down version. Life can serve some serious blows and we’re all used to rolling with the punches yet many preachers don’t tell the full story leaving people feeling unfulfilled, ill-equipped and somewhat confused about the whole Christianity thing and simply give it up as a worthless ‘pursuit’.
There is also an element of laziness. Very few people want to study and end up “doing” their faith through their pastors. The Bible says to test everything we are told! (Acts 17:11), so don’t just take what they say, check it, test it, and compare it, the Internet is an amazing resource.
The Most Exciting Life Ever
When it comes to how I think about my faith, it causes me to have butterflies in my stomach. I have a constant sense of wonder and anticipation – what’s going to happen next. When I see people or situations, I’ll always speak out my prayers to help them or come in to agreement with them.
For me, there is nothing more exciting on this earth than knowing that we are connected to the one person who made it possible – Jesus – and that there is nothing that can happen on this earth that could ever separate me from Him.
So when it comes to wars, ISIS or anything else that sets its self against my faith in God, I know that no matter what happens, we’re sorted. Live or die. It’s not a problem. Therefore, I am constantly looking forward to the next challenge and the next event around the corner. And that my friend makes this life the most exciting existence ever.
You are responsible for your life, no one else. Don’t let anyone put you off finding out about Christianity.
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