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God, Why Do I Need the Church? (2 of 5)
Hebrews 10:24, 25; Romans 12:3-8
Conventional wisdom says that here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, people attend church more often than people in other parts of the country. Not so, according to a recently survey by MTSU professor Robert Wyatt. Only about 32 percent of those Middle Tennessee residents surveyed said they attend worship services weekly. That's the same percentage George Gallup found for weekly church attendance nationwide. "We're loose-tongued about our religion—it's our style to talk about it more," said Dr. Wyatt, "but when you really ask people about their religious practices, the data shows something different. . ." (The Tennessean, 4/16/00)
Sociologists tell us that we are living in one of the great spiritual awakenings of all time. What is different about this spiritual awakening is that it is not taking place in our churches, nor is it resulting in more people attending church. It is not even Christian. It is an individualistic revival. People are creating their own versions of God and creating their own pathway that seems right to them. People say they are opposed to organized religion. So they choose instead disorganized religion.
Sheila Larson spoke for a lot of Americans when she described her personal faith: "I believe in God. I'm not a religious fanatic. I can't remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way." When author Robert Bellah asked her to describe this personal faith, she said, "It's Sheilaism. Just my own little voice." (From Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah, 1985).
For many of my generation, the church is often the last place people expect to find God. Not only do those outside see the faith see the church as irrelevant; so do many Christians. Many of today's adults came to faith in Christ, not in a local church, but through Campus Crusade, Navigators, or some other para-church ministry. In Evangelicalism, we speak frequently ab ...
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