Six Anti-Church Evangelical Trends

 As I mentioned a few weeks back, this is a great book: Set Apart by R. Kent Hughes (and it’s less than $10!).  I liked his section where he gave six anti-church trends among American evangelicals (found in chapter 10).  Here they are.

1) Hitchhiker Christians:  These peole say, “You go to the meetings and serve on the boards and committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills – and I’ll come along for the ride.  But if things do not suit me, I’ll criticize and complain and probably bail out.  My thumb is always out for a better ride.”

2) Consumer Christians:  These are “ecclesiastical shoppers [that] attend one church for the preaching, send their children to a second church for its youth program, and go to a third church’s small group.  Their motto is to ask, ‘What’s in it for me?'”  The consumer mentality “encouraged those who have been influenced by it to think naturally in terms of receiving rather than contributing.”

3) Spectator Christians: “Spectator Christianity feeds on the delusion that virtue can come through viewing, much like the football fan who imagines that he ingests strength and daring while watching his favorite pro team.  Spectator sports and spectator Christianity produce the same things – fans who cheer the players on while they themselves are in desperate need of engagement and meaning.”

4) Drive-through Christians: “[These kind of people] get their ‘church fix’ out of the way by attending a weeknight church service or the early service on Sunday morning so that the family can save the bulk of Sunday for the all-important soccer game or recreational trip.  Of course there is an unhappy price extracted over time in the habits and the arteries of a flabby soul – a family that is unfit for the battles of life and has no conception of being Christian soldiers in the great spiritual battle.”

5) Relationless Christians: Despite the Bible’s emphasis on Christians gathering together in love, today some people say “the best church is the one that knows you least and demands the least….  Of course, the apotheosis is the electronic church where Christ’s body can be surveyed by the candid camera and the Word can be heard without responsibility or accountability.”

6) Churchless Worshipers: “The current myth is that a life of worship is possible, even better, apart from the church.  As one person blithely expressed it, ‘For “church” I go to the mall to my favorite coffee place and spend my morning with the Lord.  That is how I worship.’  This is an updated suburban and yuppie version of how to spend Sunday, changed from its rustic forebearer [namely, Emily Dickinson, who said 100 years ago] ‘Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – I keep it staying at Home‘”

I do believe these are accurate (Hughes does describe them with a little more detail – I’ve summarized them).  I have talked to people in my area with similar views of the church.  Hughes does go on to give a nice biblical antidote to these six trends – maybe I’ll list them some other time.  For now, contemplate these six and try to engage them from a biblical perspective so the next time you meet Christians like this you have something loving, biblical, and intelligent to say.

shane lems

5 comments on “Six Anti-Church Evangelical Trends

  1. […] you will too. Those of you who know me, know that ecclesiology is a significant concern of mine. In this post Lems is reflecting on R. Kent Hughes’ book Set Apart. He provides a helpful summary of […]


  2. Pat says:

    That list is pretty insightful. I think it’s pretty easy for a lot of us to start falling into one of those patterns if we’re not careful. It seems like we can even use “religious” excuses for any of those behaviors as well.


  3. Justin says:

    I disagree with the idea that one must attend church to be a Christian. The greek word Ekklesia found in the Bible that we translate to church is not talking about a physical building, but rather a group of people.
    I used to go to church in the sense that most people do these days, but I have found my relationship with God and my Christian brothers and sisters has grown more since I started to gather with them around a meal and discuss how this life is supposed to look like living out our faith. We continue to talk talk about these things, but talking has turned into walking and doing.
    I don’t have anything against traditional church, but I do think there are other ways to worship and glorify God.


    • Reformed Reader says:


      Thanks for the note.

      Notice my post didn’t have much to do with a building, but an assembly of Christians gathered around the word of Christ in order to worship him together in a corporate setting. Traditional, organic, holistic, whatever one calls it, a church is an assembly where Jesus’ disciples meet to hear his word, celebrate the sacraments, and grow in discipleship fostered and led by leaders, as Paul noted to Titus and Timothy. These are the Christ-ordained means to strengthen believers to enable them to live God-pleasing, neighbor-loving lives 24/7.

      Does that make sense? The point is we can’t scrap the NT concept of the church just because we 1) don’t like it or 2) think we have better ways/methods of “doing church.”



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