21 Feb

Why is church attendance declining?  When Gallup first measured church membership in 1937, it was 73 percent. It remained near 70 percent for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the millennium.  For the first time since the late 1930s, fewer than half of Americans say they belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, according to a new report from Gallup.  There are many reasons, but could it be that they are not finding churches providing love, peace, and a "safe haven" for them?

Yesterday, I attended what I call a “safe haven” church after recently making the decision to permanently quit going to church after fifty years.  I wasn’t raised in church.  Why?  My mother said all churches are full of hypocrites.  Even as a small child, I knew she was wrong.  At thirty, I was drawn by God to commit my life to him and thought I needed to start going to church to show the world I was serious.  I thought I would find peace, love, and acceptance in a church. My husband, who was also not raised in a church, followed me in my journey.   However, this is what we ran into attending churches. 

  • The first church we joined seemed fine in the beginning.  We both began to work in the church.  My husband and I became involved in all church activities.  My husband became a head deacon and even played a major role in starting a Christian school which is now a famous one in our city.  So, what went wrong?  The full-gospel movement divided the members.  While it had always been a Southern Baptist Church, without the knowledge of the deacons, the pastor declared in an evening service that the church would no longer be a Baptist church.  He declared it would be recognized from that point on to be a full-gospel one.  He even renamed it, removing Baptist out of the name.  My husband and I were open to the full-gospel teachings but felt the pastor had handled the situation in a non-Christian manner and SPLIT it wide open, with one-half of the church agreeing with him and one-half disagreeing with him.
  • I immediately sought out another Southern Baptist Church, wanting to get away from the chaos experienced in the first church.  My husband dropped out temporarily and did not follow me.  However, a friend of mine followed me and took some of the full-gospel teaching into the new church.  This immediately caused problems.  I could see another SPLIT looming.  I suggest we both leave the church.  She went to a Pentecostal church while I went to another Southern Baptist one.
  • As soon as I got settled in another Southern Baptist Church, I volunteered to teach a Sunday School Class.  My husband started to attend with me.  We carefully stayed out of politics.  As they say, Ignorance is bliss.  So, without us knowing why, the church SPLIT.  Since we liked the pastor, we followed him and the others to start another church.  After a few months, it came out that he was being sued for sexual harassment by a member of his staff.  He was fired.
  • The members, including my husband and I, started and built a new church.  We, the members, hired a recommended pastor.  During an evening service, the new pastor, his wife and two kids were placed in front of the church during an evening service to be thoroughly reprimanded.  What had the pastor done to deserve such humiliating treatment, including his family?  He had withheld his tithing and took his family to Disney World instead.  This inappropriate way of handling the situation by the deacons sickened my husband and I and never returned to the church.
  • My husband and I did not go to church for a while.  My husband was hired by a famous resort to head up their construction.  I was thrilled thinking we were starting a new chapter in our lives.  My husband had no desire to go to any church.  I started to a church which had a good pastor.  I decided to start going to Sunday School.  I was the first one there.  The teacher was going over her lesson, saw me, did not acknowledge me.  I sat down.  A large group of ladies filed in without acknowledging me, even with a nod of the head.  It was as if I was invisible.  After the lesson was over, they all got up and filed out.  It was as if I wasn’t even in the class.  I didn’t want to go to church with folks who didn’t acknowledge me. 
  •  When we returned home in our original city, my husband and I started to a church with a really good pastor.  I volunteered to help a cousin with her class of two-year-olds.    Unbelievably, she stabbed me in the back, saying I wasn’t doing a good job.  This cousin turned out to be a drug addict and got involved in a lot of unwholesome activities.  Who’d a thought?  However, my husband developed cancer and the pastor plus an assistant could not have done more to show support for him, me, and the rest of the family.  THIS IS THE ONLY CHURCH I HAVE ATTENDED THAT FUNCTIONED AS GOD WOULD HAVE THEM DO.  However, my husband passed away, and my life had to go on without him.
  • After my husband’s death, I built a house on an island located in the Gulf of Mexico.   I started going to a Baptist Church on the island.  Everything went well for a few years until things went awry.  No sense in explaining what, but once again, I experienced a SPLIT in the church and I left with the disgruntled ones, some were charter members of the church. The ones that left met in various places until a large, well-known church started a branch on the island.  Most of us were thrilled and joined right away.  Everything went well until I joined a so-called Christian book club on the island.  I AM A WRITER, so when it came my turn to pick a book, I picked one of mine, hoping for some constructive criticism.  The meeting was held at my home, and I got so much criticism, I got rattled.  After serving refreshments and sending them out the door, I told my husband, “THIS IS THE LAST STRAW.”
  • I made the decision to quit going to church permanently.  Instead of church being a “safe haven” from the cares of the world, it has brought more distress into my life than I can do without.

Yesterday, however, after about a year, I decided to attend a “safe haven” little chapel where my second husband and I got married.  A good man is pastor of it.  I received a blessing, but I am still paranoid about attending any church. Some who read this will say that I have not been strong enough to withstand the wiles of the Devil.  I have only touched on the main things that have happened to me.  If I wrote everything I have experienced in fifty years of attending church, you would not believe me.

Could these types of things be the reason for the decline of the churches?

* The email will not be published on the website.