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Why So Many People Reject Church

Surveys show that 80-90% of our churches are shrinking. Even as we crave meaningful ‘spirituality,’ people are more skeptical than ever of ‘organized religion.’ One writer said the fourth great awakening is happening right now, but it’s going on outside the church. Why do so many people leave the church while unchurched people will go anywhere but the church to find spirituality? Here are some possible reasons.

1. Churches talk grace but preach law.
Though every epistle in the New Testament ends with grace, most sermons are packed with subtle guilt, endless lists of do’s and don’ts, and advice on a plethora of subjects, most of which are irrelevant to the issues people face. Who cares about pornography when you are desperately lonely in your marriage?

In addition, most pastors also talk about ten minutes too long (I shudder now when I realize I did that!). Too often they ‘should on’ people a lot and most Americans have grown weary of it. We struggle enough with guilt and self-image, who wants it assaulted every Sunday morning? Sermons should be seasoned with grace. It’s the only thing that releases people into obedience anyhow. What if churches had suggestion boxes where people you could anonymously request sermon topics or other changes?

Biblically, the Church should build people up with love, not tear them down with legalism. Without that, the Church will never grow healthy and the exodus will continue, which brings me to my second point:

2. Fundamentalists too often forget God's great fundamental - love.
We’re often so busy majoring in minors we can easily forget God’s majors. What the world needs now is love, God’s love. If pastors learn to genuinely love their people and teach them to love one another you won’t be able to keep people away. When I began to do that the results were phenomenal. Churchgoers are drawn to love like bees to flowers. Sadly, new-agers often exhibit more love than Christians.

What do you feel, see and experience in your church? If it isn’t genuine love, thoughtful seekers and healthy Christians won’t stay. Here’s a church litmus test for you: does my church care about hurting people? I once asked an elder that at a very large but dead church. He said “I think so,” and fumbled in vain for concrete examples. Jesus loves broken sinners, but many churches don’t, it’s just so messy. The Good Samaritan message is too often relived in many churches. Many pastors are too afraid of their flock to love them. I do understand that. Some of God’s sheep have funny teeth. But people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

3. People don’t just want to hear our words they want to see power -- authentic, spiritual, life-transforming power.
A famous radio preacher rails against healing in his books and sermons. His arguments are all anecdotal, naming famous healers who died of various diseases as if that proves his point. Ironically, the man is a strong proponent of the Bible yet he can’t use it to deny the validity of healing. It never says that God will stop healing someday. Both Old and New Testaments are full of passages that describe God as our healer and deliverer.

It’s no wonder we don’t know how to heal. Seminaries and Bible colleges just teach preachers to talk. But God’s kingdom comes with power, and we can err, not only by wrongfully interpreting the Bible but also by denying its power.

When grace, love and power are sadly missing from many churches, it’s no wonder people wander away. Someone once said, “In the ecclesiastical twilight, the world looks at the Church, sees an emaciated body, and turns away in disgust.” Who can blame them?

If we really want to be ‘seeker friendly,’ let’s create a church where relationships go deep and people can share how they really live. Let’s replace the omnipresent judgmentalism, religious SAT tests and perpetual finger pointing with sincere confession and let it begin from the top down. Not long ago, some local pastors met with a pastor of a huge church. When they asked about the catalyst for its expansion, he said “A few years ago, we struggled just to pay our bills and couldn’t get new people no matter how hard we tried. Then the Lord convicted our leaders of our sins and we publicly confessed them to our congregation. Ever since then, we’ve been growing almost uncontrollably.”

What if your church became a place where leaders can be vulnerable and honest and lay people can dialogue with them, not just be lectured; where sincere questions can receive reasonable answers, and religious claptrap will not be tolerated. That’s a church I’d join. I’d even bring my unsaved friends to it.

I’m preparing to share with some local churches in southern California our strategies to help them double in four years or less, by doing exactly that. Let me know if your church wants to know about it.

Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at The Ultimate Breakthrough "

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any man I ever met.” – Dwight Moody

“If we could read the secret history of those we would like to punish, we would find in each life enough grief and suffering to make us stop wishing anything more on them.” Source unknown, quoted in Sunbeams.

“People decide in the first two to five minutes whether or not to attend a church again …long before they hear the sermon or worship team, or sample their programs.” – Ron Martoia, Morph.  

Scriptures of the Week

“Speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effectual working of each individual part, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” – Ephesians 4: 15-16.

 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” – Romans 6:14



Dancing With God
When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
And everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
Both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
Or by pressing Lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness,
And attentiveness from one person
And gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw 'G': I thought of God, followed by 'u' and 'I'.
'God, 'u' and 'I' dance.'
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
That I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.
My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
And mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God, as God  abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
And to guide you through each season of your life.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached.
If God has done anything for you in your life,
Please share this message with someone else.
Interceding in prayer is one of the best gifts we can give.
There is no cost but a lot of rewards;
So let's continue to pray for one another.
And I Hope You Dance!









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