Lifeway’s Research department released the following information:
Tripping over the church
The negative perception for many people, however, seems to be the church, not Jesus himself, according to the study.
While 64 percent of the respondents think “the Christian religion is a relevant and viable religion for today,” 79 percent think Christianity “is more about organized religion than about loving God and loving people.” Seventy-two percent said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites, people who criticize others for doing the same things they do themselves,” and 86 percent believe they “can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church.”
The belief that church attendance isn’t necessary for spiritual well-being is just as common among adults who grew up in church as it is among those who attended church less often as children, McConnell said.
“Unchurched people do not understand the connection between having a relationship with God and being with other believers in church,” he said. “In the Christian faith, these are inseparable. Jesus’ last prayer before being arrested, as recorded in John 17, was that everyone who believes in Him would be unified and work together to let the world know that God loves them and sent Jesus.
“People on the outside see the church as candles, pews and flowers, rather than people living out their love for God by loving others,” he added. “Such skepticism can only be overcome by churches and believers who demonstrate the unity and love for which Jesus prayed.”
Stetzer explained, “There will always be the stumbling block of the cross. Yet our study shows that many are tripping over the church before they hear the message of the cross.”
The research from USA Today and Lifeway is a staggering reminder that while the message of hope in Christ never changes, our methods must be continually evaluated. Our goal is not to embrace a religious club where we all look alike, rather it is to embrace loving God and loving others.- Rev. Bledsoe