Where Are the Believers?

I am thinking that God is not dead, but a lot of Believers are… if they can be found. Where, oh where are the Believers?

We have been visiting local churches since we first moved here in May. In the churches we have visited we have found friendly, loving, sincere Christians. We have also sat in sanctuaries that judging by the number of seats and size of building, not even one-fourth of the place is filled. Empty, echoing hallways, cleared out classrooms, and over half of the attendees are elderly.  There are a few middle-aged people, a couple of families, and virtually no young people or young adults. Where are the people? Where have they gone? Judging from the square footage, classrooms, and expensive construction materials used, these churches must have been thriving and bursting at the seams.  At one time–maybe for years– these must have been vibrant churches with toddlers and babies, growing families, retired couples, oldsters!  On Sundays, the folks must have poured out of these churches… where are the replacements? What are people doing on Sundays if they are not in church? Why are other pursuits more fun, more important, more exciting than church?

I realize the answer to this is not simple. The world has been drifting away from God for various reasons, and just because you’re not in a church building on Sunday does not mean you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. So what is it about “church” that is found to be uninviting, irrelevant, so boring? So unimportant that believers aren’t interested enough to even attend? I understand that God is not running a popularity contest, nor should Christians expect to be entertained, but what can be done differently to make our faith real?  I think many have found faith to be more real and relevant outside of a building.  I sometimes think huge church buildings in disrepair should be scrapped… why can’t small meeting places be rented? Or meet in homes, or meet outside during nice weather? Why can’t it be simple and invigorating to just be with other believers?

We visited a sparsely attended church this morning. I counted 21 people. The pastor said, many are sick, some are traveling, and he doesn’t know where the others are. There were honest and friendly Christians there, but I could hardly stay awake during the sermon. I asked my husband, “Do you think the pastor goes home, throws open his front door and screams to his wife, “I can’t stand this anymore!”  “I’m sick of this rut!”  “I simply cannot come up with another sermon!” ?”  We stand and sing. We sit down and listen. The pastor talks. We leave. It’s a dying church! The people are gone!

Don’t you think we need to “do” church differently? Don’t you think it could be easy to be the church to the world? Maybe do away with a pastor and just Christians meet or call one another up on the phone and say, “hey, let’s go minister to ____ by doing ____!”   Don’t you think this could be exciting, meaningful, helpful, and a learning and teaching moment at the same time? Do away with a building that needs repair, do away with committees, do away with boredom and indifference?  Serving God by serving others might bring more of the lost to Him than inviting people to come to a building.

Oh sure, all sorts of holes can be shot through my ideas, I’m aware of that–blast away, I’ll listen. I like what one pastor said when we visited his church, he said, “This is not your “normal” church!”  I liked that. I like that the service was less structured, more open, a person could share a verse or thought during the service, the pastor was open to some one else sharing what God had taught them or showed them that week. It wasn’t a free-for-all, but it was a lot free-er than a traditional church. I think church needs to be a place we look forward to going to, some place that we don’t want to stay away from for fear of losing out on some revelation from God’s Word that we could have learned and applied to our life–pertaining to past mistakes, present issues, or future concerns.

I just simply think church could be simple. I think we’d like it more, I think we’d be more effective in the world. I think more Believers would come out of the woodwork. And while I’m at it, I think the nit-picking and dissecting of other’s beliefs should end–I’m weary of it. I’m speaking of Christians here–Bible believing, Jesus Christ worshipping, Thief On the Cross saved by faith –not by works faith– You’ll Be With Me in Paradise faith. What must one do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Simple. You don’t need to do anything else, add anything else. Let’s quit worrying about what others believe and worry about our own walk–God can work with them just as well as He can work with us.  And that’s simply all I have to say about that, at least for now.


The photo above: This little country church: The people died, the people moved to town. No one left to go to church.


13 thoughts on “Where Are the Believers?

  1. 100 agree with you. We are all priests, we each need to minister to each other. That’s the sort of church I enjoyed this morning – one minister does not have all the answers. Organised church is often just Religion. I hate religion.
    When our sermon from today goes on line I may give you the link. It was quite some challenge, not a wishy washy Jesus loves you “feel good” spin.

    I could listen to many more like this, who knows I might be spurred into being more Christ like!


  2. I loved this! I’m writing a blog called “5 Reason To Try Church Again!” Check it out by the end of this week. I, too, am concerned with “where have all the believers gone??” Great post!

  3. You certainly ask some very thought provoking questions. I enjoy a sermon that I feel I can apply to my life. I do not enjoy a lot of ritual but love the praise hymns and hearing others sing when it comes from the heart. It is easy to tell when a sermon comes from the heart of God and the preacher is just the voice behind it. I have no answers but feel church is a need that we have allowed all our business with other stuff to take the place of. I don’t want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a world where the bible is unread and church is a thing of the past.

  4. Hello Joy.
    There was a church meeting on the farm this weekend where more than twenty thousand people attended, an African church. Interesting isn’t it how in the supposedly affluent nations the church is dying, or so it seems.
    What was it Jesus said about it being more difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? When you’ve got everything you need, why go to church, you think you don’t need it. Maybe?
    Maybe if the pastors treated their churches more like a business, as they seem to do in this country, then the churches would once again fill up, who knows?
    Anyway there is one thing that churches have in their favor, when someone is in real trouble they still turn to the church for guidance, even if it is empty.
    I would love to own a church like the one in your photograph, I’m sure it wouldn’t be empty for all that long.
    Bless you my fine feathered American Christian friend, FFACF, Geoff.

  5. Oh Joy, it is a thought-provoking discussion to ponder. In our search to find the church that fit our family, I was often struck in a similar way at how some churches are thriving, and others are less than. Let’s face it, we’re all just sinners doing our best to do what we believe may be right by God but unfortunately, it may be what is right for ourselves and our earthly egos.
    I recalled a conversation recently where someone had stated that they should do a church plant in a specific community because that specific denomination wasn’t present there. I was confused as there are many churches there but just not that denomination. Sometimes it may be forgotten that a Christian should be Christian, whether or not a tradition or ritual may set us a part, it is most importantly Grace through our Lord and Saviour that makes us equal. Why put another church with more administration costs, and overhead costs in a location that has many other churches – is it about God or economics?
    Many churches die because people move on to another (along with other reasons), but if churches joined together to share the good news, they may be more successful and vibrant and pleasing to God. Daddy often says that religion was created by Satan to keep us from being united.
    In one community I lived in, I had an idea to get all of the churches together to make a booklet, sharing what each church had to offer, including services, programs, etc and we could have the youth do a mailbox drop (it was over about 30 blocks of the city) and it would have involved about six churches. I was astonished and extremely discouraged by the responses I received like – “we do our own advertising”. The project never made it past the idea stage but my deepest desire was for us all to unite together.
    It is a sad reality and an obvious sign of our human imperfection.

    • Perfectly said, thank you. I often imagine Satan sitting in a corner and just snickering and giggling as he watches the confusion of Christians as to what God’s priorites really are. Oh how Satan loves arguing and discord amongst our Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

  6. Wow, what an eye-opener Joy. I agree. I grew up with constant nit-picking of other denominations, and later realised how soul-destroying it was. Find me a church which encourages loving each other, seeks to reach the lost, and is in touch with God’s love and grace, and I’m happy. Not always easy to find though, as you say.

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