Andy Stanley, author with Fox News said about the church, “I’ve talked to, listened to, and read interviews, blogs, and books by dozens of folks who’ve left the Christian faith. I’ve yet to hear a story from anyone who abandoned Christianity based on anything directly related to Christianity – at least the original version, anyway.
“The decline of Christianity in America, the popularity of The New Atheists, and the meteoric rise of the ‘nones’ underscore something that’s been true for generations but didn’t matter much until now.
“Many expressions of Christianity are fatally flawed.”
His views resonate with Mahatma Gandhi’s sentiments after worshiping in a church in England, “I love your Christ, but I hate you Christians.”
He went ahead to cite some reasons to underscore his conviction. Some of them are listed below.
- We tell people that the Bible is the basis of Christianity
“Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.”
It’s a line that many who grow up in the church know by heart, and it reflects a problem in modern American Christianity: many of us believe that the Bible is the foundation of our religion.
I recently read a blog post by a former worship leader who left the faith after she read a book “proving” contradictions in the Bible. Apparently, she grew up believing the foundation of our faith is a non-contradicting book.
It’s not. Jesus is.
When our faith stands on anything other than Christ, we put ourselves (and others) in position to fall.
- They believe suffering disproves the existence of God
Renowned New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman says he lost his faith and embraced atheism because of suffering in the world. And he’s not the only one.
But the foundation of our faith is not a world without suffering. Pain and suffering don’t disprove the existence of God. It only disproves the existence of a god who doesn’t allow pain and suffering.
Whose god is that?
Not ours. Our God promised there would be suffering until he makes all things new.
- They had a bad church experience
Most bad church experiences are the result of somebody prioritizing a view over a you – something Jesus never did and instructed us not to do either. Self-righteousness and legalism are leftovers of the Old Testament laws, which Jesus replaced through his death on the cross.
Relationships are messy and complicated. But if our actions are rooted in Jesus’ command to love one another (John 13:34), we can prevent many of the experiences that lead people away from his body.
- We’re bad at making people feel welcome
It wasn’t just his message that made Jesus irresistible. It was Jesus himself. People who were nothing like him, liked him. And Jesus liked people who were nothing like him. Jesus invited unbelieving, misbehaving, trouble making men and women to follow him and to embrace something new, and they accepted his invitation.
As followers of Jesus, we should be known as people who like people who are nothing like us. When we invite unbelieving, misbehaving troublemakers to join us, they should be intrigued – if not inclined – to accept our invitation.