As I mentioned a few weeks back, this is a great book: Set Apart by R. Kent Hughes. 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 people 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 bailout. 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.
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