In the book by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman, titled UnChristian, they identified through nation wide surveys and questionnaires the four main reasons why Americans (particularly younger generations) don’t attend church. It’s not that they are anti-God; they are instead “institutionally suspicious” because of their perception of the following:
1. They Feel Judged – 87% percent of Americans label Christians as judgmental.
2. Church People are Hypocrites = 85% of Americans view Christians as hypocritical. Apparently, we come across as not practicing what we preach.
3. They Don’t Like Being Lectured To = Though research indicates people learn best through conversation and relationship, the Sunday morning sermon (lecture) comes across as “preachy”.
4. Church (not God) is Irrelevant – Though most believe God is benevolent and loving, what the church is perceived to be busy with comes across as irrelevant to their lives. In other words, they are interested in God, but not a perceived irrelevant institution.
“But we aren’t that way!” we want to loudly exclaim to protect ourselves. “You are judging us!” we want to counter. Before we react and build our defensive walls though, let’s pause. Let’s listen. Let’s acknowledge. Let’s smile. Let’s invite relationship. Let’s consider their perception. Let’s talk. In fact, isn’t this a great time to build a bridge?
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
-The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole
– Pastor David