Statistically in America more and more people are staying away from church these days. For many in our culture, feel, going to church is something they don’t have time for, or feel is no longer relevant in their hurried lives.
Experts say, there are four reasons for this development:
• “I feel judged.” According to studies, 87 percent of Americans label Christians as judgmental.
• “I don’t want to be lectured.” In other words, “You don’t care what I think or wonder about.”
• “Church people are a bunch of hypocrites.” A whopping 85 percent make this claim, according to researchers.
• “Your God is irrelevant to my life. But I’d like to know there is a God and he cares about me.” They don’t understand that God is real and active in their daily lives and He can make a difference.
We as Christians and churchgoers have to face these daunting facts and do whatever it takes to reverse this trend. But how? Where do we start?
As a leader and pastor of the Living Hope Community Church for 39 years, I have agonized over this, and began to confront these realities by asking our church congregants this question: “How can we face these realities and make the proper changes?”
We came up with 4 Acts of Love:
• Jesus-style Radical Hospitality! In essence, Jesus says, “You’re welcome just as you are.” This means accepting — no matter what! —people’s age, gender, looks, dress, economic status and whatever else makes a person unique.
• Fearless Conversation! Jesus was intrigued by people and loved conversation. In order to be more conversational, we took out our chairs and put tables inside our theater and began to have brunch as part of our Sunday experience. Instead of looking at the back of people sitting in front of us, people now had to engage with each other around coffee and a meal. There is now live discussion about the issues we face in every day life, and the freedom to ask questions.
• Genuine Humility! We must admit we don’t have all the answers, we don’t have it all together, and as humans, we’re all on this journey of life. We can learn from each other.
• Divine Anticipation! This means we emphasize God’s reality, presence, and action in our daily lives today. He is amazing, incredible, and wonderful now!
Suffice it to say, we have a long way to go in living out this fresh perspective on church life. Breaking with tradition is hard to change, but I can truly say, we’re moving in the right direction, and believing that our best days are before us..
Sam Meza is the pastor of the Living Hope Community Church in San Fernando.