“I think if the church did what they were supposed to do we wouldn’t have anyone sleeping on the streets”. – Michael W. Smith
The church is a place of worship and without judgment for anyone seeking a closer relationship with God. As men and women of faith, we are all seeking peace, hope, inspiration and salvation from the word of God through the church. As a child, I remember everyone going to church and praising God; afterwards, a big dinner was prepared for the entire congregation in the rear area of the church. There was food to eat together or take home. Now that I am older and have a better understanding of life, I can truly appreciate the gathering of men and women in the house of God.
Today, something has changed regarding men and women attending church. I realize religion and politics are two subjects that are often prohibited in conversation due to contrasting ideologies. Yet, I am compelled to understand what has caused people to distance themselves from the church. It appears that men leave the church more often than women do. During my research, I realized there was a cultural disconnect among some people about churches within their community. The justification for people no longer interested in attending the church was the same regardless of race, religion or age. Additionally, I want to clarify the myth that anyone who declines to attend a church service does not believe in God—many of these people still maintain their faith and belief in God.
At this point, I would like to list some of the most common motives for some people losing interest in attending the church and preferring to seek God on their own. This article is not intended to influence anyone’s opinion or reasons for their religious beliefs. On the other hand, I would like to bring about an understanding between both sides for them to at least sit together at the table of unity and formulate a way to ensure anyone feels welcome in the house of God.
Money- (Tithes and offerings)
Tithes and offerings have always played a part in the history of the church. There are several scriptures in the old and new testament about tithing. Although pastors frequently reference Malachi 3:8-10 (King James Version) when attempting to remind people about paying their tithes. 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tithe as the tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as tax, especially for the support of a religious establishment. Many people will not dispute over the act of donating a tenth of their income to the church. On the other hand, what happens when the church begins to request an additional 10 to 20 percent of your income? This additional financial burden is what seems to drive some people away. Many church leaders seek to reach the mega-church status, but with this status comes mega expenses. To counter these massive expenses, pastors will rely heavily upon the congregation to make larger contributions. Often, this is included in the church budget planning for the new project; the only problem with this financial plan is that the members of the congregation have their own financial responsibilities outside of the church.
Another concern individuals have with the church regarding money is the lack of contribution to the community. Numerous stories have been covered by the media regarding the lifestyle of pastors, — from luxury cars to oversized homes equivalent to a mansion. However, there are pastors who do not take a salary from the church, such as Joel Osteen, and there maybe others as well. Nevertheless, in some respect, I can understand the frustration of people living in a low-income community facing eviction while the church keeps demanding for more funds to build another building. At some point, I think the church and the community should strive to work together to determine how the church can best benefit the community while maintaining the original belief of the church being a place of worship without assuming the corporate climate of a banking financial establishment.
There are generally more women than men in every type of church, in every part of the world, according to church growth experts like Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World. After all, most men believe Christianity has become feminized. The movement to include women would require that the church’s music, messages, and ministries cater to women.
Based on my review of this topic, many men are under the impression that they are deliberately being bashed during sermons. Bishop Noel Jones is the senior pastor of the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California. He had opened one of his sermons by stating, “We, as a church, have become very women-friendly, but we bash our men”. Unfortunately, I must agree with his comment on the way some ministers criticize men in the congregation. As I listened to several ministers from both large and small congregations, including sermons delivered on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the number of negative remarks directed toward men were followed by multiple positive comments about women. Some of the Father’s Day sermons conveyed excellent messages, but they also included quite a few negative comments about men. One Father’s Day sermon started off with the minister saying, “Men are entitled to one day out of the year” this statement was made to the congregation regarding a church message being directed towards men. The Mother’s Day sermons were extremely uplifting and empowering, with a 98 percent positive rating, while the men’s sermons were rated about 65 percent positive. Moreover, it seems many ministers struggle to find a way to shed light on the strength and power of being a man. On the contrary, when it comes to women, this does not seem to be a challenge: one of the most common references to strength, power, and life is the birthing of a baby. I am the first to admit that comparing anything to the birthing of a baby is a challenge.
As I listen to men speak about their lack of interest in the church, it seems they are tired of being insulted. Based on the way men are represented in television shows and other platforms of media, the honor of being a man appears to be fading. Hopefully, ministers and congregations can find a way to uplift each other; in occasions where men may need a spiritual spanking, a men’s open forum could be held for these types of discussions. As men who take pride in themselves, will never accept being ridiculed or disciplined in front of women. This statement is not meant to offend anyone, but this is how the mind of men work”.
Controversy in the Congregation
Throughout the world, congregations are being torn apart by conflicts. Many of these conflicts result from gossip, damaged relationships, and improper social behavior within the congregation. We cannot hold the ministers accountable for every single issue that arises among the members of the church. Occasionally, people will develop friendships or relationships that may turn sour after a few months. Rest assured that people notice when two individuals who previously sat on opposite pews started sitting together and then begin sharing a bible and riding to church in the same car until something happens, following which they start sitting on opposite sides of the church. Rumors about the ministers’ or church representatives’ behavior can also cause controversy in the congregation. Eddie Long, Cardinal George Pell, Jimmy Swaggert and, most recently, Fred Price Jr. are only a few of the pastors who have been exposed for some form of inappropriate conduct. This will often lead to a split in the church between those who are loyal to the organization leaders and those who simply have had enough. Some members will find another church to be their home, while others will restrain from attending any religious services.
Humans are social by nature, so we enjoy the benefits of healthy conversation and gatherings. When we attend church, we are looking to enhance our relationship with God. Distractions from within and outside the church can divert us from this goal”?
Every church has its own distinct culture. In some cases, visitors experience a friendly and welcoming environment. Other cultures may leave people feeling like the church members are cliquish. In this culture, it takes years for people to feel included, find a place of service, or begin to feel welcomed in the house of the Lord.
After dealing with the challenges of the work week and our personal lives, many of us look to the church for a friendly face to welcome us into the flock. Unfortunately, this is not the case with all congregations. Many people are not sincerely welcomed when they attend a new church. Anytime a person walks into a venue that promotes itself as being friendly and open to visitors, they are greeted with cold stares upon arrival, and this can make anyone feel hesitant about returning to the church.
Other factors include the behavior of Christians outside of the church. It’s difficult to see the benefits of being a member of a church from someone who attends the church and yet engage in gossip and raise conflicts at the workplace and at home.
Leadership is one of the most vital roles in the church. We have pastors, elders, deacons, youth leaders, and choir leaders, and in places where no one is able to fill these positions, the men and women of the congregations take the oversight. In the past couple of years, numerous church leaders have had to step down due to inappropriate behavior.
The list of church leaders who were involved in some form of inappropriate behavior are plentiful. Cordell Jenkins, Marcin Nurek, Marcus Lamb, and Chris Hall are just a few of the leaders who have stepped down. Regrettably, this causes people to turn away from the church. When the leader of an organization acquires the trust of a flock, the emotional impact of betrayal can be long term. Eventually, the public will start considering all leaders of the church to be untrustworthy. Furthermore, if the audience constantly focuses on the deviations in behavior that is contradictive to the teachings of the scriptures, the true message of the word cannot be fully received by the congregation.
The church will always be a place for worship and praise. The pastor and everyone else associated with the church are humans, and mistakes are a part of life. We should not lose faith in the purpose of the church; instead, we should strive to find peace, hope, inspiration, and salvation in the word of God. There are religious organizations that strive to set an example of true Christian values.
I think it’s important to remember that our faith is fully in God and not the people within the church, and we should focus on that. Pastors are often put on a pedestal but be careful about elevating them above God or your husband/wife. Pastors are simply messengers delivering the word of God, and husbands/wives are gifts from God.