I have quit church in the past. It never lasted long. A Sunday feels empty without church attendance. It’s because I was raised this way.
But many don’t have the social void to drive them back into the pews. Most people have no motivation to search for a shred of belief in the carnage of a bad church experience.
And, typically, it’s not just bad relationships that scares people out of a valiant effort to become religious. It is a deeper sense of failure. The pressure of Churchianity breaks people. The message of the evangelical church becomes a terrible burden. Pray more. Believe harder. Give more. The broken feel beyond repair – they have tried but they just suck at the application of the message (‘doing the gospel’).
They have started 100 bible reading programs and failed every time. They don’t want to raise their hands during worship. Things are falling apart at home. They hate their spouse. They can’t stand their kids. Going to church just reminds them that they suck at everything.
The church looks at the weakest people in a congregation and assigns to them all the heavy lifting.
Rod Rosenbladt, in his lecture The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church, gives insight into why this is so:
The upshot is always the same: broken, sad ex-Christians who finally despaired of ever being able to live the Christian life as the Bible describes it. So they did what is really a sane thing to do: they left! The way it looks to them is that “the message of Christianity has broken them on the rack.” To put it bluntly, it feels better to have some earthly happiness as a pagan and then be damned than it feels to be trying every day as a Christian to do something that is one continuous failure — and then be damned anyway. Trust me on this one. This is how things look.
Many good Christians squirm to read that. They squirm because they wish they had the bravery to give up a weekly reminder of failure for a life of ‘pagan happiness.’
Does Christianity have anything, really, to offer the broken? Do the failures have any hope? Rosenbladt continues, with a potent message that will anger the virtuous and invigorate the broken:
What the “sad alumni” need to hear (perhaps for the first time) is that Christian failures are going to walk into heaven, be welcomed into heaven, leap into heaven like a calf leaping out of its stall, laughing and laughing, as if it’s all too good to be true.
It isn’t just that we failures will get in. It’s that we will probably get in like that! We failures-in-living-the-Christian-life-as-described-in-the-Bible will probably say something like, “You mean it was that simple?!” “Just Christ’s cross & blood?! Just His righteousness imputed to my account as if mine? You gotta be kidding!” “And all of heaven is ours just because of what was done by Jesus outside of me, on the cross – not because of what Christ did in me” – in my heart, in my Christian living, in my behavior?!” “Well, I’ll be damned!” But, of course, that’s the point isn’t it? As a believer in Jesus as your Substitute, you won’t be damned! No believer in Jesus will be. Not a single one!
Not a single one.