By Kristen Johnson
Last Sunday a good friend of mine, a gentleman in his 70s, asked during my adult Sunday School class why people “my age” (40ish) don’t go to Church anymore. My answer was very simple – people my age only see hypocrisy in the Church. As one who returned to the Church after a 15+ year absence, I know all about seeing nothing but hypocrisy. I am one of the lucky one who “returned” to the fold – but, I think Christians can take note of a few things if they expect people to return to the Church, or to start going in the first place.
Adam Hamilton’s book, When Christians Get it Wrong, really encapsulates beautifully why people “my age” refuse to go to Church and why many of us who were raised in the church have subsequently announced that we are “done” with church. I believe Pastor Hamilton’s observations about how people view Christians is a big reason why people don’t go to church if they weren’t raised in it, and why families today aren’t raising their families in the church.
Although the book is short, it captures quite a lot of information on a variety of subjects including politics, sexuality, and science, among other important, relevant topics. The book was particularly important for me to read in this election season. (Actions of “Christians” during the election have, quite frankly, completely shocked me.)
It turns out that I’m not alone when I detail my experiences of a lifetime of judgment, hellfire, criticism, and a complete lack of love in my experiences in the church, particularly as a child. And, I’m not alone in thinking that Christians often “get it wrong” in their interpretation of many subjects in the Bible.
I’m one of the lucky ones – I found the Church again in “middle age.” Given my experiences as a child and young adult in the church, it’s really only God’s grace that lead me back. I’m also lucky because I finally found a denomination and a local church that loves and embraces me, no matter what, and helps me to grow spiritually while focusing on serving others, without judgment and hellfire. (Thank you United Methodist Church!)
I applaud Adam Hamilton for writing this book, because I know (from his own admission) that he has lost Church members over it. The message of the book is incredibly important and I can only encourage anyone who has been hurt by the Church to read it. I believe that Pastor Hamilton is correct in his thinking that if we Christians don’t change our attitudes and actions that we will lose an entire generation of church-goers and believers.
The overall message, as always, is to love and to serve, no matter what the circumstances.
1 John 4:7 (NRSV): Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Serve all with love.
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