Church...and by that I don't mean a building, or a denomination or a para-church organization. I mean THE church. The one that believes there is a God, that believes that God longs for relationship with us, that He sent His Son Jesus to earth, that Jesus modeled the disciple life and then became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins so that we didn't have to be separated from God forever. That church.
The church that reads "Love your neighbor as yourself"
The church that reads "Go into all the world..."
The church that reads "For God so loved the world..."
The church that is so busy in your political posturing and finger pointing and condemnation and making sure the world knows what you are against that you forgot to tell them what you are for, what God is for...and what He told you to be about.
The church that is so busy circling the wagons and protecting itself that it is losing a battle for your children.
The church that needs to know when you are so incredibly loud in your condemnation of Miley Cyrus that you forget to tell the teenagers in your church that God loves her, you are alienating them. Because they feel that judgement on themselves. They are struggling with their sexuality and what the media is telling them and wanting to be accepted and instead of opening a dialogue with them you are picking up your bullhorn.
And you are losing them.
When you are so busy denouncing same sex marriage as the downfall of all marriages and you are dehumanizing the LGBT community as the "enemy" and the teenagers in your church have friends who are LGBT or are wondering about themselves and you forget to tell them about grace.
You are losing them.
You are pointing your finger at so many but when Fred Phelps and his hate mongers protest the funerals of innocent victims or Pat Robertson makes the most ridiculous accusations about "special rings" and the deliberate spreading of HIV, you remain silent because you are afraid that to denounce them would negatively impact the church's freedom of speech or freedom of religion. So the world looks at them and thinks "this is what Christianity looks like" and you aren't saying any different. And the kids in your church don't want the world to think that that is what they are like so they no longer publicly affiliate themselves with the church or even as Christians.
You are losing them.
The church that believes you walk into a building on a Sunday morning wearing your church mask because the church is no longer a place to be hurting and broken but a place to act like we have it all together. So your kids no longer believe they can go into their youth group and confess they cheated on a test, that they struggle with self injury, that they don't know what to do with their life. They believe that they have to carry this fake "image" and it either breaks them or they refuse to wear it so they refuse to go to church. And they are hurting, depressed and falling...and the church is no longer the place to catch them.
We are losing them.
It is time. It's time to lay down our agenda and live what God told us to live. Love. We are supposed to be known for our love. Not our political party. How is it that if I'm a Christian, I'm automatically supposed to be conservative Republican? (I'm not) That I'm automatically against same sex marriage. Against gun control. Pro-Life (but that doesn't mean I'm against the death penalty or approved as a foster parent).
Don't get me wrong...part of this is the media's fault and I'm not even getting started on them (I've done it before...read further down in my blog posts).
But a big part of it is us...as the church.
It's time to preach the message that we were meant to preach. And that does not mean that we are okay with culture (I will fight the "pimp" word until my last breath). And it doesn't mean that we are conforming. And it doesn't mean we are okay with sin. It means that we are busier preaching what we are for than what we are against.
It means looking at our kids and saying
"We are for you."
"God is for you"
"God is longing for a relationships with you. Literally longing for it." And don't follow that up with but only if you don't do this, if you take out your gages, or get a haircut...
Let the church be a place for the broken again. Let the husband admit his battle with porn, the Mom confess her temper problem and the teenager cry out because her body doesn't look like what magazines tell her beauty is so she stopped eating.
You look at your youth group and you think "Not our kids."
But, yes. Your kids. Your kids are hurting. Confused by the messages they get from the TV and music. And they need to know the church is the place to come to confront all of that...in love. That the church bands together not to fight against the world but to fight for it. That we were called out by God to go, preach the message of love to the world and make disciples.
If we need to have a political message let it be one of justice. Fight for the oppressed, the impoverished, the widow, the orphan. Fight for our kids.
Make no mistake. The enemy is after them. And if we aren't paying attention...and as a church, we are failing to pay attention...then little by little...
We will lose them.