What's Up With Church?

Too often church is merely a building where traditions are preserved.
Too often church is merely a building where traditions are preserved.

Church Is A Drag

Anonymous wrote: “To our forefathers, faith was an experience. To our fathers, faith was an inheritance. To us, faith is a convenience. To our children, faith is a nuisance.”

For many people, faith is a throwaway feeling because church is a drag. Church has become nothing more than the place to jump through hoops that assuages guilt or soothes over the rough edges of life. Instead of being the dynamic organism that is to function as an instrument of God’s grace, more often than not, church is the organizational bulwark that preserves religious tradition.

Eternity In Our Hearts

Our inclination for ritual stems from an innate capacity for the eternal.  We humans have a spiritual dimension; there is no doubt whatsoever that we are spiritual beings.  Addiction has been defined as:  “God-hunger directed to the wrong source of soul satisfaction.”  Embedded deep within us is a passion to seek after God.  King Solomon wrote that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Paul of Tarsus proclaimed that the “truth about God is known to humanity instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”

We are fearfully & wonderfully made to know & experience God.
We are fearfully & wonderfully made to know & experience God.

That is the essence of spirituality in a nutshell. There is an intuitive hunger for the divine woven into the fabric of our soul, which serves as the catalyst for our journey to faith in Christ. It is this craving for the supernatural that compels us toward Calvary for we are formed with a God-sized hole in our hearts.

Definitions

We have managed to really confuse the issue; religion, church, relationship or spirituality?  In fact we’ve mixed up the principle badly because for ages we have been convinced that Christianity is a religion, but it is not.  Religion is all about our attempts to be good enough, decent enough and honorable enough to reach God; religion is all about following rules, regulations or customs we think will make us acceptable to God.

Christianity is a relationship that emanates from God; it is our Creator reaching down to redeem us.  On our own we can never fulfill God’s requirements because all our extensive efforts at righteousness are as “filthy rags” to him, yet he desires to connect with each one of us.  Elohim, Yahweh, El Elyon, Adonai, Jehovah, El Shaddai - these are some of the sacred Hebraic names attributed to the God of Israel.  No other Hebrew terms evoked such wonder or reverence.  Jesus of Nazareth came that we might know Yahweh as Father.

For that to be realized our hearts need to be changed and brought into proper alignment.  Only Jesus Christ can transform the human heart.  The media shouts at us about every new spiritual gimmick, but those enlightened pundits with their tendency for social engineering only echo the spirit of our age which distills a vague spirituality that makes us feel good about ourselves.  It’s a mix and match, pick and choose alternative to the life-changing gospel of Christ crucified.

New age gurus spout a philosophy and worldview that puts each individual at the center of the universe.  It’s a lot of emotional fluff that has an appearance of wisdom, but its shallow veneer lacks substance or truth.  Our culture urges us to design our very own do-it-yourself god kits, so we’ve developed a mushy spirituality that doesn’t require obedience or self-sacrifice or even acknowledging that we are created beings dependent on our Creator.

Enhanced Spirituality

Christianity is all about God’s love and mercy being actively engaged in our day to day lives. God loves us with an everlasting love that found full expression in his Son’s death on a Roman instrument of torture. Christ’s sinless sacrifice paid the awesome penalty for our sin, opening the door of opportunity for us to be in relationship with Yahweh, our heavenly Father.

Talk about spirituality; talk about enhanced spirituality! The cross of Calvary elevates spirituality to the highest degree possible because the cross allows us to come into a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. To put our faith in anything less than Christ crucified is to be deceived by myth or idolatry.

Christianity is relationship not religion. Church is to be involved in accentuating that relational emphasis. Church is meant to be a collection of Christ-followers who support and “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

What’s up with church is that it is a ragtag outfit of deeply flawed misfits leaning on each other and pressing on together to know and experience God.

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Comments 50 comments

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

Good hub...when church became social gatherings about making more money and the "What's in it for me mentality" ...God walked out the door.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Tom. You are right about the what's in it for me mentality.


patful profile image

patful 7 years ago

When I take a look at Paul's letters to the new churches springing up in Europe and Asia, I find the same problems: people who twisted God's truth for their own selfish purposes. Today we have more technology, faster means of travel and communication, and a wealth of "things" not available in Paul's day. But we still need that relationship with God which is only available through accepting what He did for us through Christ's death and resurrection. Thanks for sharing your perspective on the topic.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're exactly right, patful. Nothing much has changed since Paul wrote those letters. Thanks for your comments. BTW, that's number 30, with twenty-four hours to spare. :>)


pastorkat4 7 years ago

I was wondering if this was #30 or if you had 1 to go. Good one again. In fact I've quoted the middle parts of it in my sermon from Romans 3 for tomorrow. I figure its a good plug for your hubs too.

Keith


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

That's number 30, Keith. Quote away & plug the site & my stuff as much as you want/can. Thanks.


Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 7 years ago from California

Jesus determined to spend time with the original twelve "ragtag outfit of deeply flawed misfits." He discipled them in the context of a relationship - a deep bond that forged ties and united this band of brothers. The church today needs to return to basics. Even before we attempt to disciple or teach a God-hungry individual, we have to learn how to earn his or her love in a genuine relationship offered unconditionally. It's not about the success of a program, it's about the love for a person. Keep on hubbing Ken!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Gicky. You are exactly right, but church administrators & those who control funding seem to forget that seeds take time to grow & relationships take time to develop.


The Rope profile image

The Rope 7 years ago from SE US

HOLY MOLY! I've never seen or heard it put so perfectly! I hope you don't mind if I send this out to a lot of people not currently on hub pages (and unfortunately not likely to become hubbers). I'd also like to print it for several that do not have access. Don't give up on churches guys - there are a few of us out there that truly do believe the individual and the relationships are what it's all about!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

You expressed my view of the subject exactly. I've actually become more "tolerant" (for lack of a better word) of organized religion and its rituals and pageantry now that I have found my spirituality. It's NOT about following rules, it's about following Christ's example.

Excellent hub. MM


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

The Rope - Thanks for your words of affirmation. Please do share it with whoever you can - the more the betteer. Be blessed & encouraged.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Mighty Mom - Thank you. We certainly cannot disengage from church, so tolerant might be the word, but we always have to remain focused on the heart connection & follow Christ not man-made rules or expectations.


yes2truth profile image

yes2truth 7 years ago from England

"The cross of Calvary elevates spirituality to the highest degree possible because the cross allows us to come into a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe."

Where do you get this from? For nowhere can I find what you are saying here in the Holy Scriptures.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

yes2truth - If you cannot find that in the Bible, God's written revelation of himself to humanity, then I'm not at all sure you are reading the right book.


yes2truth profile image

yes2truth 7 years ago from England

Perhaps I have not explained myself properly.

How can a lump of timber used purely for a barbaric and torturous death of human beings bring about a relationship with The Son of God, when all the while the Holy Scriptures say something completely different? I.e:

John 6:44 (KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

I just don't see any reference here to lumps of timber.

You also said that: "The cross of Calvary elevates spirituality to the highest degree possible."

How can a lump of timber achieve this?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

yes2truth - The transaction that took place on the cross at Calvary, substitutionary atonement, is what elevates spiritualtiy to the highest degree possible.

I shorthanded that, much as Jesus did regarding an OT example, in his conversation with Nicodemus:

"No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."


yes2truth profile image

yes2truth 7 years ago from England

Agreed, but the cross holds nothing in terms of Spiritual Power and His death was only half of the 'transaction'. Belief that He rose from the dead is equally if not more important.

Paul was mocked by the Greek philosophers and intellectuals for his preaching on the resurrection of the dead.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

No argument here, yes2truth. Earlier in the article I wrote: "Only Jesus Christ can transform the human heart."

A dead person cannot do anything, much less transfort the human heart. "Christ has risen!" "He has risen indeed."


Destined To Win profile image

Destined To Win 7 years ago

I was so impacted by the quote in your opening paragraph. For some they have no problem "doing" church but have yet to realize, because of Calvary's Lamb and the provision of the cross, they can actually "be" the church - a part of a living organism - a refection of a living Christ. Thanks for this excellent analysis of "What's Going On With The Church?" The jury's still out. My consolation in this 21st century church is what the Lord of the church said in Matthew 16:18... "Upon this rock, I will build my church....."


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Destined To Win - Thanks. And yes, our consolation & hope is that Jesus is building HIS church & we know that he does all things well & works all things together for his purposes.


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Ken R. Arbell,

Praise God! This is wonderful!

As you stated: "Only Jesus Christ can transform the human heart. The media shouts at us about every new spiritual gimmick, but those enlightened pundits with their tendency for social engineering only echo the spirit of our age which distills a vague spirituality that makes us feel good about ourselves. It’s a mix and match, pick and choose alternative to the life-changing gospel of Christ crucified."

Jesus came to show us a better WAY! God never intended for His Church to be reduced to be known as "brick and mortar" Yes! The building is a Great place so HIS Church can gather together for Worship and Fellowship! But We the people are His true CHURCH! Jesus is not coming back for a building!

We are living sanctuaries of His precious Holy Spirit!

Wondeful job!

Blessings!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, DeBorrah. Blessings to you.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Well, you are quite "abell" in putting some "good stuff" into a thought-provoking blog. Relationships are so important and all our relationships are a parallel of our relationship with God, I think. Your thoughts are rich. I thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

vrbmft - Thank you for the good smile. Appreciate the encouragement very much.


cindyleedavis profile image

cindyleedavis 7 years ago from cindyloudavis@hotmail.com

hi, I want to say that every church is not like you have written about. There are some that are real, spirit-filled,

body of Christ (people.)Who are looking towards eternity,

towards Jesus Christ, who are looking towards lost souls.

Some churches are not a drag.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

cindyleedavis - Thanks for your note. I agree. I think it is always a challenge for each of us to keep our eyes fixed on eternity; a challenge we can only meet with God being our helper.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

"Christianity is relationship not religion" Amen!

By the way where are you from in Canada? My husband is from Toronto.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Cari Jean - Thanks for stopping by & joining the fan club. Much appreciated. Be blessed & encouraged in your writing efforts.

You'd enjoy my Hubs, "Hometown" & "Hometown Revisited", which will answer your question & likely make you and/or your husband smile.


Judah's Daughter profile image

Judah's Daughter 7 years ago from Roseville, CA

I think the success of an organized church is when the members are first Christ-focused, then People-focused. When that gets switched around, we see pride, hypocrisy, jealousies and strife. Satan always sends a handful of these folks into every Christ-focused "church". When we follow Christ, we have the enemy tagging along...

Praise God, the victory is in our hearts, for no one can take the church out of a believer, though the enemy seeks to take believers out of the organized church!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Exactly Judah's Daughter. Christ-focused, people-focused. The great good news is that Jesus said he was building HIS church & the gates of hell would not prevail against it.


aka-dj profile image

aka-dj 7 years ago from Australia

Very well said. Many people need to think about all this. You put it so clearly.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, aka-dj.


djbraman profile image

djbraman 7 years ago

The heart is everything, and not many Christians have had their hearts regenerated but have hearts from the carnal image they've created, but agape love is what we all should be about and that starts at Calvary because Jesus cleans us up from the inside out not the other way around. The tongue speaks the heart and that's how you can separate the wheat from the tares. All churches are not without the presence of the Holy Spirit, but some, like you're talking about just need a good old fashioned revival because they have died spending all their time warming the benches and they need to get a praise in their mouth. I'll bet you when the trumpet sounds they will lift their voices then and be glad to fall face down and worship. Everbody hold on to their hats a great spiritual awakening is coming in the Latter House.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

djbraman - Thank you for stopping by & sharing your comments. Be blessed & encouraged in your faith-journey.


Tina Irene 7 years ago

Ken -

Since you asked, "What's up with church", meaning it seems, "What's up with going to church" :

The Church (any and all churches and meaning "members") is the Body of Christ and the communion of saints. We are here (in whatever church) to serve those who come through our doorways (members, or not). Here's a true story for you from a gentleman who lives in the Pacific:

On 9/11, a Southern USA man was on a business trip in New York City; of course, that day his business meetings were postponed. He took the time to walk around Mid-Manhattan and watched what was going on. Amid constant, screeching sirens, etc., he noticed a large, steady stream of people quietly going into and coming out of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He stepped into the Church.

There was a very large but relatively quiet crowd, mostly of people in the pews comforting one another. He asked a man at his side if the Church was open for Catholics because of what had just happened. The man said the Church is always open for everyone.

The Southerner was impressed because his Baptist Church was only open for services and meetings and, of course, never open for strangers. During the remainder of his business trip he thought about the Church being open all the time for everyone.

When he got back to his home in the South, he called the local Catholic priest and, long story short, he converted to Catholicism. After a while, he decided to answer a "call" to serve in the Pacific and this is how he met the gentleman in the Pacific who told me this conversion event. The Pacific man is another member of the Body of Christ and the communion of saints.

What's more:

(1) The New Testament admonishes Christians (and by "Christians" is meant BAPTIZED Christians AND Trinitarians, the only Christians) to be in communion with one another, meaning, meet regularly,

2) In the tabernacle of every Catholic Church is the actual Body of Christ so, those who want to sit quietly before the Presence of Christ can do so, and

(3) And...our door is always open and the Light (Eternal Light Candle) is always on...for the world.

(4) The Church takes care of most of the world's poor BECAUSE members meet at Church.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks for your note, Tina Irene. I agree that the Church is the body of Christ that meets in churches (buildings). I like to say that individual churches are cells in body of Christ. The Church gathers to worship & scatters to serve & reach out to a hurting world.

Thank you for sharing the 9/11 testimony.


susansisk profile image

susansisk 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

This article puts in a nutshell some of the problems people and churches face. Churches want to attract members, so many do this by putting on a "pony show". After a while though, people realize these churches are all the same. My own church which is Lutheran, is working hard to maintain our traditions, and values, but also attract new members.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Good comments, susansisk. We are in a year old church plant & we are trying to blend or combine ancient traditions with cutting edge ministry ideas because we believe that we stand on the shoulders of faith giants.

Blessing to you & much encouragement for all your ministry efforts.


The Rope profile image

The Rope 7 years ago from SE US

Perfectly said Ken! Your clarity and information is amazing. I hope to spread this far and wide for you!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

The Rope - Thank you.


Royal Diadem 7 years ago

This what I need to read at this time. Thank you


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Royal Diadem - Great! I am glad you stopped by & that this was helpful and/or encouraging to you.


Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

I love this hub truthful and well written. Thanks


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Vladimir Uhri - Thank you for your encouraging words.


Rebecca Rene' 7 years ago

I love this hub! Thanks so much it is very inspirational. I love my church because it isnt church as usual. I hope others have or find a place that makes faith relevant and alive daily. I love the way you put it all into words though. It is truly unique.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Rebecca Rene - Thank you for stopping by & for sharing your encouraging comments. Very much appreciated. Blessings to you.


"Quill" 7 years ago

Ken you have made many points in regrads to the Church and the changing Church as well. As Christians today the centeral point of our faith is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, the Cross becomes a starting point.

Paul wries of the old and the new in the Bible, great comparisions which we see happening today, again look at Paul and we see dramatic conversion that has meaning.

Christians today are consumers, churches are striving to survive in hopes of becoming the biggest and the best, where in some cases worship becomes a preformance.

The real ministrie take pace in the home setting where people can come and bear their souls and find healing from years of pain and suffering. It is here we can become "Jesus with skin on for people" where meaningful love is found. To find that love in a Church service is rare.

Churches do need to go back to the basics and teach ofthe love of Christ, His love is where relationship is found not in tradition.

A new fan and I look forward to reading on...great hub.

Blessings


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Quill - Thank you for your comments. Very true. I think the consumer mentality is the largest obstacle to getting back to the basics. Glad you stopped by. Blessings to you.


Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

Love this hub. I'm curious, have you read a book co-written by George Barna titled "Pagan Christianity"? If not, I would highly recommend it, and would love to discuss it with you. As a former pastor, I'm questioning the legitimacy of a lot of things that I used to encourage. An example of that would be tithing to the church. There is certainly a New Testament mandate to give freely, but I'm not convinced that tithing to a church in order to pay for real estate, salaries, pastoral expense accounts, etc was what God had in mind. This is more than I can discuss in the comment section of your hub, but I would love to dialogue about it.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Glad you enjoyed it. No, I have not read "Pagan Christianity", but it certainly sounds interestng. I'm not sure when I'll get to reading it though, because at this time I have no less than a stack of fourteen books to read my way through, which ought to keep me busy for 2010. Peace & blessings to you & I'd enjoy an e-mail dialog with you on the topic.

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