Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

It’s Family Time!

4 Comments


According to a recent survey and article posted on abc.com, America is becoming “both less Christian and less religious.  The percentage of Americans who define themselves as Christian has dropped from 86% in 1990 to 76% in 2008.  15 percent of Americans say they have no religion, a figure that has almost doubled in 18 years.  Meanwhile, the number of atheists has nearly doubled from 900,000 to 1.6 million.”  The article goes on to state that just because “people are dropping out of organized religion, that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning faith.”   One person made the comment that while “I no longer attend church, I still pray to Jesus.”

Why do you think this trend is occurring?

A 2009 post on the Mockingbird blog quoted William Donohue, president of the Catholic League as saying he thinks”a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it. The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not,” he told Lou Dobbs. “Notice they are not atheists — they are saying I don’t want to be told what to do with my life.”  The person writing the blog wrote, “Perhaps if American Christianity was more about Grace for sinners and less about telling people what to do, more about God’s “yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:19) and less “thou shalt not”, people would be more interested in going to church…”

Personally, I find that to be one of the positives of belonging to the “Congregational Way of Life.”  For the most part, I am glad not to have a higher-level organization handing me a book of rules to follow.  I’ve already got one, thank you.  It’s not that I don’t find value in rules – I just don’t like to be told I HAVE to do something just because someone (another human) decides that’s what’s best for me. 

As for there being more “Yes” than “Thou shalt not’s” … my study Bible explains that “all of God’s promises of what the Messiah would be like are fulfilled in Christ – he is the divine ‘Yes!’  Jesus was completely faithful in his ministry, he faithfully died for us and now he faithfully intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 4:14, 15).

So, again I ask, why do you think this trend is occurring?  Why do people think not participating in a worship service is not something they want to do?  What can we do within our community to start reversing this trend?

As for the comment, “I no longer attend church, but I still pray to Jesus” – there is a time and a place for solitary worship or mediation.  I know some people say they don’t need to be in church because they are outside “communing with God and nature” while they’re off doing a multitude of outdoor activities.  That being said, I love having our Church-in-the-Woods services each year.  We are meant to enjoy nature and God’s handiwork.

I did a search for “organized worship as opposed to solitary worship” (or something like that), and I was brought to a web site that had a few lines that I liked.  They said, “Corporate worship is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.  It is a time to get together with our God without distraction. It is a group time. It is family time!  And He is here!”  (“For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”  Matthew 18:20) 

We are meant to be together – to decipher, to discuss, to grow in God’s word – together.  We are meant to be together … to encourage one another, to share with one another, and to be part of God’s family together.

 “America is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious,” by Dan Harris, March 9, 2009; Cyberservant; Mockingbird

 

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4 thoughts on “It’s Family Time!

  1. Lance – liked your comments. You’ve got a lot to say, so I know you could be a “guest blogger” sometime in the near future, right? 🙂

  2. Very thought provoking topic Caron, but I’m going to try and not be judgmental in my thoughts.

    1) Bill beat me to the punch related to why we exist, gather to worship, etc….our lives are not supposed to be about us, but about God’s glory and honor. The article is correct in that all of us have been told individualism reigns supreme. It’s practically un-American if we aren’t individualistic and seeking to get something for ourselves out of everything in life (ROI – return on investment of money, time, affection, actions, etc.).

    2) I too understood that Christianity was an awful lot of “thou shalts” and rules that were meant to trip me up and induce guilt, shame and a general sense of why bother; I can never be good enough. Until as recently as a year ago I experienced obedience to the “law” as a negative and against my inner drive to enjoy “my” life. It wasn’t until I was brought to a low point that I heard the Good News in many verses, but these two in particlular:
    2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
    1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

    3) I wanted to live as that new creation and to really experience the freedom of true forgiveness of my sins. In order for me to get that I came to realize I had to give something that I held onto dearly….MY LIFE, MY IDENTITY, ALL OF ME. Once I died to my will and life, I was able to live more freely for God. It’s still a learning and growth experience daily. Some days are better than others in laying me aside and living for Him. But now that I understand (in my heart and not my head) that my life is not about me, but God’s glory and honor obedience isn’t a something that binds me up, but frees me to live more fully for God.

    I could go on, but I know for many years I attended church asking of God and “thinking” I was giving to Him by doing all the right things (attendance, service, giving, prayer). I was still wanting to take, still looking for that return on my investment, still being selfish and placing myself (feelings, expectations, desires, etc) above God. I attend because I am so grateful for the gift of His grace and mercy. I attend because it’s not about me, but about HIM. I attend because I no longer own my life and I need to keep reminding myself of that in all possible ways.

  3. I would say there’s a lot of praying going on at a Cub’s game! 🙂

  4. Another great blog! I would add the scripture that says “do not forsake the assembling of the body.”

    If we look at the word “Worship”, what is it all about? It is about God not me and today most of the reasons that people have left the church is not about God but about themselves. Most of us do not know what we bring to the worship service. Each of us brings something that no one can add and when we are not there that something special is missing.

    About the rules; We will always have someone always telling us what we can and can’t do, church is not about rules it is about “Worship and Fellowship and assembling the Body of Christ”. True we can do that when we are not with other people but be honest and tell me how much you are really thinking about God when you are at a Cubs, Sox, Bulls or Hawks games?

    I think you have discovered a great and wonderful topic.

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