Why Should the devil Have All the Good Churches?

In the pioneer era of what we now call, "Contemporary Christian Music," a singer/songwriter, the late Larry Norman, posed a similar question with,"Why Should the devil Have All the Good Music?" 

Our church is doing a sermon series called Hot Topics. People have submitted questions on index cards and each week one of our pastors takes a question and expounds on it. Yesterday's question was, "Why do people in the satanic church seem more content than those in the Christian church?" My spirit tells me that whoever asked the question is struggling with their faith journey because of what they are witnessing in Conservative American Evangelical Churchianity. 

In 1997, I was doing church planting in New Hampshire. We were going door to door taking surveys about the perceived needs in the local community with a clever transition into a gospel presentation. We were approached by a couple who called themselves, "Born Again Pagans." We (my partner David and I -- they sent us out 2 by 2) had an amazing conversation with this husband and wife. I remember noticing how at peace they were. I remember being amazed at how peaceful they were. Not once did they try to convert us. In fact they praised us for following our spiritual paths. 

There we were, battling the heat of the day and the giant NH mosquitoes, becoming tired and frustrated with the constant rejection to our outreach. And there were two pagan people, as relaxed as a hound dog on a Sunday afternoon porch. Were they just deceived? Did they have any idea they were rejecting Jesus and destining themselves to a devil's hell? If so, how could they be so peaceful about it?

These were my pre-deconstruction days, of course. 

While listening to Pastor TJ, I recalled my many deep conversations with people of other faiths through the years. They each had something that I clearly did not...peace. My Hindu friend, "Swami G," was decked out in full Hindu accoutrements as he led his congregants in a group meditation. I had never been around such a peaceful environment. Everyone was completely content in their skin and desired to access their full inner spirituality and were willing to pay the price to do it.

The Amish have forsaken advanced technology in favor of a simpler, more peaceful existence. They are not afraid to go out in public in full Amish dress. They are happy with who and what they are. They are at peace. 

Orthodox Judaism believers wear their yamachas 24/7. Reformed Jews wear theirs on the Sabbath. They do so proudly and they are at peace with the path they have chosen.

I was never very comfortable with the path I chose. A faith that measures success by how many people we "led to Christ." I am an introvert, and the notion of approaching strangers with a gospel tract in hand literally frightened me. I felt like I had failed the Lord and dishonored His sacrifice. Besides, we ultimately weren't leading them to Jesus, we were leading them to mindless conformity.

The thing is, I LOVE Jesus. I love talking about Him. I love sharing His grace with others and seeing their lives changed. My preference has always been for someone to ask me about my faith first. I feel less like I a used car salesman that way. If someone really wants to know what I believe, they can always ask me and I will gladly tell them all they want to know. 

Yes, that question asked in church yesterday deeply resonated with me. It's true that Evangelical Christianity has left a yucky taste in many people's mouths. I was once a part of that system and worked hard at it for a long time. I like to believe that I helped at least one person along the way. I also believe that I hurt many people over the years, including my family.

Why does American Christianity fail to offer peace to its followers, even though it claims to do just that? Why does it place such spiritual and financial burdens on those who are seeking peace in their souls? Why is it not okay for folks to just attend church and go home once a week? Why must they feel pressured to be and do more? Is it because we are running a business instead of a church body?

This I know, millennials are leaving the church en masse because they are finding no spiritual substance. My generation fought for years for full praise bands on Sunday mornings. We never dreamed it would not only happen, but later become a sore spot for those seeking something authentic. We created a monster. "Come to our church! We have drums and guitars!" "This is not your grandparents' church!" 

Great music plus no substance equals zilch.

Yes, we have musicians, but we exclude those who are gay or transgender. Oh, they can attend our churches, but don't expect approval or acceptance. Don't expect them to become leaders in our churches. 

And don't get me started on the Evangelical treatment of women in the church. They can bake the pies but they cannot preach or teach.

Today, if you want to know what a church is like, don't read their Statement of Beliefs; look at who their leaders are. Who do they place their faith and trust in to oversee things? Women? Homosexuals? 

Millennial Christians are pulling out, and the sad reality is that many churches are okay with that. They don't know how to handle young people who question what has worked for them for decades. I pastored churches who were nearly full each week, and some where we couldn't fill even one pew. My last church had an incredible facility, most of which was blocked off so it wouldn't increase the electric bill. I stood before a large sanctuary that held 500 easily. On a "good day," we had 35-50 in attendance. Many of these were faithful senior saints who held their lunch plans in higher regard than their worship. I loved them. God loves them. Millennials have had enough.

The question that Pastor TJ fielded in church yesterday was most likely posed by someone who has been seeking something in the Christian Church that has eluded them...peace. Peace for their souls.

When faced with the reality that satanism seems to offer more peace than Christianity, what will American Evangelicals do? My guess is that they will do next to nothing like they always have. In their Americanized minds, these seekers of peace probably don't tithe anyway, and their constant questioning of things will hurt morale. Good riddance, they say.

Satanism - 1, Evangelicalism - 0.

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