The Barna Group has released a new series of books that address pressing questions. In this book they address this question through research provided by Barna and Jon Tyson’s pastoral perspective.
51% of people don’t think it’s important to attend church.
I was drawn to this book because I believe what you believe about Jesus and what you believe about the church are foundational and fundamental to faith.
Tyson cuts to the quick with a quote from an article in the Atlantic
“One young atheist who abandoned the church offers this reason for his disbelief: ‘Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change the lives of others. I haven’t seen too much of that.’ And that’s it right there. If church isn’t changing your life, then it’s true, there really is no point.“
He says that the two greatest factors that are fighting to destroy the church are entertaining church and the individualistic church.
To the church as entertainment Tyson says the following:
In the church as entertainment culture, instead of seeking to be equipped as disciples of Jesus, we are slowly formed into consumers and critics who give ratings and review on a local church’s performance.
If the highest goal is entertainment we tend to look at churches as how they fit into our life and if they no longer entertain or help us feel better we move on to a church that “fit’s our needs” In looking for the wrong things we could miss the right things.
To the church church as individualistic Tyson says:
The second defining force that has shaped many of today’s Christians’ view of the church is radical individualism. This kind of individualism can be succinctly defined as “the sovereignty of self”: self over others, self over community, self over inconvenience, and self over commitment. Our life and longings are formed around a vision of personal fulfillment at all costs. Everyone and everything exists for us. We want our lives to be an epic story in which we play the starring role. Yet when we consciously or subconsciously believe this, Jesus’ words and Jesus’ invitation can become tools to use for our own needs.
The church in America is growing but into what? I share Pastor Tyson’s concern for the entertainment driven individualistic church. If church exists for me it will not continue past me. As a pastor and christian who lives for works in and believes in the local church we need to take seriously the charge by Christians that they can “have church” at home or by themselves. Or the church of those yet to come to faith that they love Jesus but hate his followers. Jesus is passionate about the church. He promised to build it and that one day he would return for it.
In an entertainment driven, individualistic, transient culture that is modern America, I beg you pastor, I beg you church member stay where you are let your roots go deep in the imperfect church you attend and through your individual and collective weakness glorify God.
Pick up a copy of Sacred Root:Why the church still matters by Jon Tyson it’s a great quick read.
(Disclaimer I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher to give my unbiased perspective on this book)