Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Empty Pews, Missing Generations

Most church organizations that have existed for more than 30 years have a major concern. That major concern is that the majority of their members are over 40 years old, with only a small minority of younger members. Between the efforts to draw in the younger generations(some frequent and extensive, while others as rare as once every few years), members and clergy ponder the age old question: "Why?"

As one both on the inside and on the outside (and falling in that <40 category), I will attempt to shed some light on this matter. First, I say I am on the inside, because there are times when I encounter "church" every day of the week. I am now stuck living literally within the beast until circumstances change (and prayers are answered). I have intimately observed "church" for over 10 years. I was once highly involved for six years, holding a variety of offices/lay positions. Volunteering in such ways consume a large amount of time and energy. While I used time and energy as an excuse when I first began resigning from my numerous 'jobs,' these were somewhat minor issues.

The main reason I left was because I became disgusted. I became disgusted that in the 6 years while I was seeking to learn and to help others learn, only a very small group of people ever signed up for the pastor's bible studies; I was disgusted that while Easter and Christmas were supposedly about Jesus' death and birth, over half the congregation would ask my children what Santa and the Easter bunny brought them, while none told them about Christ; I was disgusted that old buildings are more important than people; and finally, I was disgusted that tradition was more important than faith, truth and love. So, after six years I knew that I would no-longer remain in this man-made society, wrongly called "church," where scripture is only a reminder that Christianity has something to do with God, while paper Easter bunnies are taped up on walls and windows amidst arguing over what kind of tape is proper to use on the sacred walls.

Now, to be fair, I'll also mention a few things that I did like... the few things that gave me hope that perhaps there was a light in all the darkness. There was a very old, but resilient woman who would stand up in the congregation each time she was there, leaning heavily on her cane, who while using all her strength to speak would give praise and glory to her Creator for some blessing, whether small or great, which she received that week. There was the adult sunday school teacher who faithfully attempted to teach and study eventhough there were only 3-5 people who came to class. There were a couple sweet and humble people of faith who sadly were so overwhelmed by church politics and gossip that they had no energy left to take a stand.

This is the grim reality of the state of the "church" today (especially rural churches). I have more to say, but it is late, so I'll probably write some more on this another day.


Blogger Tracey said...

Hi. I've begun reading your blog and you are an excellent writer. I can see very clearly the old woman leaning heavily on her cane and the Easter decorations on the "sacred walls". I have had a long history of different churches and all their issues. I'm sorry that it is so unsatisfying for you, but I believe this is true for many people who call themselves believers. I'm very glad that your faith is still very much intact even though the "church" has its problems.

1:01 PM, April 14, 2006  

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