Thursday, September 16, 2004

How The Backslider Got His Groove Back

This list of “15 Reasons To Go To Church” is on a local church’s web site:

Even if you, your friends or your family members are not believers, there is
value in going to church. Want to live longer? Go to church. Want a more
satisfying sex life? Go to church. Here are some facts that are reason enough to
get up on Sunday mornings and hit the pews:
1. Church attendance is the
number-one predictor of marital stability. (Journal of Marriage and the Family,
2. Attending church is helpful in the prevention of cancer, heart
disease, and mental illness. (National Institute of Healthcare Research in
America, June 2000)
3. Teens who attend church are four-times less likely to
commit suicide. (Journal of Chronic Disease, 25)
4. People who attend church
are more likely to remain married and have a better sex-life. (David Larson,
National Institute of Mental Health)
5. Church attendees stay half as long
during hospital stays. (Duke University)
6. Those attending church are
five-times less likely to require antibiotics. (Southern Medical Journal, July
7. There is lower blood pressure among men who attend church versus
those who do not. (Duke University)
8. There's an additional average life
expectancy of seven years. (Demography, May 1999)
9. People attending church
report a 50% higher weekly average family income. (UCLA School of
10. Church-goers have fewer heart attacks than non-church-goers.
(David Larson, National Institute of Mental Health)
11. Those who attend
religious services in their youth have about $11,000 more in yearly income by
their early 30's. (UCLA School of Medicine)
12. Cities with high church
attendance have the lowest crime rates. (Crime, Values and Religion,
13. People attending church are physically healthier and less
depressed. (The American Medical News. 3/4/96)
14. Alcohol abuse is 300% less
for those who attend church. (UCLA School of Medicine)
15. Church attendance
moves the underprivileged out of poverty and into the middle class. (Why
Religion Matters: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability. The
Heritage Foundation)

Many churches the last 20-30 years has become addicted to pragmatism and the model of the pastor as CEO. I read an interview with this pastor a few years ago in Leadership, and he told the magazine that he no longer thinks of himself as a shepherd. He is a rancher now. (Which means, for those not familiar with the administrative world of church growth culture, that he now oversees his close circle of pastors and not the flock at large.)

Pragamtism is addictive because it promises numerical growth, which in turn means increased publicity and influence. But pragmatism is not only a bad philosophy, it has turned into a sin. Laying aside all the statistical problems with the above list, I believe it is wrong to promise people more money, more health, more friends, and more sex if they come to church. I guess Catholic Priests don’t count.

The rise of interest in the Missional model is a good antidote to this kind of blatant and shallow consumerism. Church should no longer promise to be a spiritual Wal-Mart. Pastors should no longer be disconnected from the souls of the flock. (There are plenty of pastors who follow the CEO model who don’t even meet with most of their pastoral staff on a regular basis-only the inner circle team.)

I should quit before I really say something I will regret.


Pat said...

Don't stop now- how do you really feel about this?

Steve said...

Hey Phil-

Great post! Hope you are doing well!